Do I Need An Editor For My Self Published Book?

This is one of those questions with several answers; a trick question if you like. The nearest I can get is, ‘probably.’ I have edited more than fifty self-published books, fiction and non fiction and in every case I had no doubt that I was needed and that it would pay my client to pay me! I have been following a discussion on line, which is sure to bewilder anyone looking for information. Yes, there was good advice, but also bad advice and fits of childish temper on the part of people who ought to have known better. One popular question was, ‘can a writer edit his or her work?’ That’s a tricky one. If you are writing a memoir or a book about a subject that you know backwards, the answer is usually ‘yes.’ In fact, the writer can do what the editor can’t, having more knowledge of the subject. That doesn’t mean that the editor is ignorant, merely that the writer will keep remembering things, researching fresh material and needing to update while writing. Back in 1991, I wrote a memoir called Breakfast the Night Before. It was published by a famous London house, André Deutsch. I had already had two novels accepted by Collins, also of London, and experienced a publishers’ editor. I didn’t know there were such people! I discovered the hard way that I could resist changes if I was sure I was right. When I wasn’t sure, I kept quiet. The books had done well, but I was nervous about the memoir. To my astonishment it came back to me with minor tweaks and nothing that I couldn’t understand. I discovered that the editor was the publisher herself, a prize-winning author, Diana Athill. Later, she wrote a wonderful foreword for my non-fiction Part-Time Writer, Notes and Reflections. Incidentally, Breakfast the Night Before was...