Are Editors Necessary for a Great Novel?

This author's opinion on using editors and proofreaders.

Michelle Massie

2/8/20234 min read

Are Editors neccessary? In my opinion? Heck yes! But only if you want a well-rounded, engaging, complete story. The first book I published on Amazon I did NOT have edited, due to some financial constraints.

I kept it on Amazon for a month. Then I unpublished it to rework. It was an embarrassment. Full of language errors, incomplete characters, and plot holes.

Time to re-work it!

Thanks to Fiverr, I could afford some freelance editors and a proofreader! Editors first!

Developmental Editors

I did not know just how many editors were out there. For starters, my story desperately needed a developmental editor. The developmental editor looks at the big picture. These are the editors that come first.

Developmental Editors can help with a variety of issues.

  • The voice of your story

  • How to organize and outline

  • Identify things that are excessive and rearrange phrasing and writing that seem out of place

  • Making sure you have a strong plot

  • Your story structure is strong

  • Making sure you have powerful characters, with strong character arcs

  • Showing, not telling

When do you need to get a developmental editor?

That depends. Developmental Editors are just what they sound like—they help you develop your story. After I rewrote my first book, I hired my developmental editor off of Fiverr. It was probably after my third draft.

I felt like my story didn’t have enough detail, but couldn’t pinpoint where. My developmental editor was great and gave me such wonderful insight and valuable feedback.

Possibly you need help earlier along in your story. Maybe you need help organizing or developing the theme of your story. Just remember, editors are there to edit, not write the story for you.

Copy/Line Editors

Copy editing comes after your developmental edit. After you are done with your big edits, like fixing characters, plot holes, and story structure. Copy editors aren’t as necessary as developmental editors in my opinion, but still extremely helpful in catching language that didn’t fit, or sentences that need to be restructured.

Copy editors will pay attention to:

  • Sentence and line structure

  • Clarity of the story

  • Grammar/language/word usage/punctuation

  • Consistency and flow

Again, not as important as a developmental editor, but for a clean novel that sounds and writes well, they are extremely helpful.


Proofreading should be the very LAST thing you do to your book. (I made this mistake and ended up having to pay for a second proofread after I changed my manuscript.)

Do you love your book? Is it formatted? Are you done with ideas, fixed all impurities, and think it is the BEST? Then you, my friend, are ready for proofreading!

Proofreaders verify:

  • Punctuation

  • Spelling

  • Grammar

  • Capitalization

  • Formatting

And if anything, please do not skip the proofreader! I am highly doubtful any writer could ever successfully proofread their own work. Because it is your work. And by the time you have read through the last manuscript, you can probably recite it word for word, anyway.

Proofreaders find the little things that you won’t see until your book is published and out there. A missing comma here, a missed capital letter there. These things drive any author nuts! Proofreaders are worth every penny.

I get that not everyone can afford to pay for editors and proofreaders, as well as the other expenses that go along with self-publishing a book. I soo get it.

If nothing else, get a friend to read your manuscript! Then pick their brain! What did they like, and what didn’t they like?

There are tricks and tips for proofreading your own work. I read my entire manuscript BACKWARDS to try to look for errors. It was effective, though a pain in the you-know-what. Reading it out loud is also a great way to catch those sneaky little invisible typos.

I also put together a handy little guide, for some of the most common writing errors!

Fiverr is my go-to stop for any service related to my self-publishing. They are all freelancers, so prices range from high to low, depending on the experience the freelancer has.

I have always been able to find very affordable and quality work. I would recommend them to anyone who can’t pay $2,000 for an edit! The reviews are immensely helpful and really give you an idea of how each freelancer works and how dependable they will be.

That’s a wrap for my take on editors and proofreaders! I hope it has been helpful!

As always, Happy Writing!


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