When a writer hires an editor too soon, both suffer for it. Some writers send off their unedited, unrevised patches of work to an editor and hopes the editor can make something of it. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Writers should always edit their own first completed draft before sending it off to an editor to act as a ‘second’ pair of eyes. When’s the right time to hire an editor, then? Before you scout for an editor, ask yourself these important questions first, and do not skip any of them.
What’s my main reason for hiring an editor – to make my writing better, to point out mistakes, or because I'm tired of it and just want to get the publishing process done with?
Am I hoping to send it to an editor who can dramatically change my work into something readable that everyone can understand?
Have I made sure my manuscript is as good as I can possibly make it, by using other resources available like proofreading tools and/or beta readers?
If your answers to these are positive, then you may be ready for an editor. Next, you need to know the level of edit you’d need for your book. Do you need a proofread, copyedit, line edit, or developmental edit?
Profreading focuses on only spelling and punctuation errors
Copyediting focuses on Grammar, sentence structure, Vocabulary, Syntax, fact checks
Line editing focuses on Intended audience, Eliminating jargon, Organization style, Conciseness, chapter flow
Developmental editing focuses on Critique of theme or thesis, Target audience, Development of ideas, Overall structure
Know the level of edit your manuscript would need, and understand that not all editors can (or will) edit on all levels. Contact editors before you’ve finished your book (or finished self-editing your first draft), so you can decide who to go with earlier on, and find out when they can be available to take on your project. Most expert editors may not be available immediately, so be ready to wait, which is why you have to contact them before you complete your writing or initial editing. Don’t be in a hurry to get the book publishing process finished. If you want to make a good name for yourself as an author, then take your time and go through all the required steps without rush. Slow and steady wins the race.