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First, Finish the MS — by Andy Scheer

Don’t hire an editor too soon.

How much would I charge to edit his manuscript, came the inquiry from a first-time author. He said he was 90 percent done with his memoir’s first draft.

That’s way too soon to hire an editor.

First, he needed not only to complete the first draft, but also to polish it through rounds of rigorous self-editing.

But it would still be too soon to hire an editor.

Next, I recommended he run that version past five beta readers who fit the target audience. Only that way could he be sure there were no gaps, redundancies, or sections that didn’t work.

Still, it might be too soon to hire an editor.

Before professional editing, let an experienced editor critique it.

Before professional editing, I suggested he let an experienced editor critique it, using criteria such as these.

Only then — after making the revisions the critique called for — would it be time to consider which professional could perform an edit sensitive to their style and subject matter.

The better the manuscript, the better the results after editing.

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