Remember back in school or college days, when if you asked your teachers how to improve your English, you would get one sure shot answer:
They could not have given a better advice. When you read books, you get the story as well as see how the grammar and sentence construction works. Over the period of time you learn better vocabulary as well as have an intrinsic sense of how English as a language works.
So, as a new author, when you write a book, along with that awesome sauce story line, it is your duty to provide your readers with excellent English (if you are writing a book in English). What is the use of a good story, if it is written and executed terribly?
How would you like if you went for a movie where, even though the story is excellent, the set is terrible, the acting is horrendous and the director has shot it from any god forsaken angle that makes no sense. Would you still call it an ‘excellent movie’ just because the plot was good?
Yea, its exactly the same for books.
So, now the question is do you need to spend more on hiring an editor even if you feel your grasp on language is impeccable? How does it make sense to hire someone to do something that you are sure you can do it yourself?
The answer to this is, a good editor brings more to the table than just proofreading (i.e. checking grammar and spellings) your work.
It is the editor’s job to see if your story works, if your characterization is proper, if you are making a mistake in your time line, if you need to work on descriptions, or if your sentences need to be shortened.
The editor sees to it that your readers should not have this reaction after reading your work:
How to choose an editor?
There are tons of editors out there, with different skill sets. Some even offer different kinds of services. The question is how do you decide which one to go for.
The answer is quite simple. You need to talk with the editor, see if they are willing to do a sample edit. See if what they have worked on suits your book. Basically you need someone who would polish your work while retaining your voice.
There are dangers of both under editing and over editing. Under editing would mean there are still quite obvious errors in your book, while over editing would remove your authentic voice from the book, thus making it lackluster. You need to ensure that your editor understands this and then starts work.
Do not go for the cheapest option available (unless, that editor has proved himself/herself for you.) While you may be saving bucks now, you would not get great reviews. Which means less sales. Remember David Ogilvy’s Mantra “When you give peanuts, you get monkeys.”