Really, this article should be called “Why Can’t I Just Let My Friends and My Mom Edit My Book?”
The answer to that question is really two-fold. Yes, in fact, you can let your Mom and your friends edit your book. Just know that, unless your Mom or your friend is a professional editor, you are going to end up with a product that won’t sell nearly as well as its potential if edited WELL. And, as an added bonus, you will receive scathing reviews from people who try to read and won’t finish your book because of the poor grammar contained within its covers.
Why is it worth shelling out a couple thousand (or more) for a good editor? One – you reach the greatest audience because people whose opinion is respected on Amazon, et al, leave nice reviews. Two – you can actually hold your head up high and be proud of your work. That might not sound like a lot, but give it a try.
Let me share with you a secret. You won’t always like the editor you’ve hired, especially when they’re telling you that your book requires a great deal of rewrites and cutting of precious passages to be really good. But hold in there. Keep a copy of the original on your hard drive and go back to it occasionally to make sure you’re on the right track. Then read both manuscripts when you’re finished with the editing process. Even you will be amazed at how much better you sound after that difficult process!
A good editor finds plot holes. They find grammatical and tense inconsistencies (e.g. unexplained changes from first to third person). They help you find passive voice passages that can be rewritten. They help fix spelling (spellcheck doesn’t find everything!). They help reorganize. A good editor is invested in making your work shine…if you let them. If you won’t let an editor make big changes, or if you are only paying them a small fee, they will not be invested in making your work wonderful.
Give us a chance! Good editors are worth the expense!