As a novelist, one of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received was to get a critique partner. There’s nothing better than having a like-minded writer reading and reviewing your work. When it’s time to submit to agents, however, it’s not a bad idea to run your work by a freelance editor first. Here’s why:
The Little Things: A good critique partner is looking at the whole story – flow, characterization, voice. While she may mention that your punctuation needs work, it’s not her job to correct it for you. There are plenty of good stories out there written with poor grammar. Just because you can tell a good story with bad grammar doesn’t mean you should. Let the editor help you with the details.
Industry Standards: Did you know there are different standards for memoirs, novels, and inspirational novels? Your crit partner may not know that either. A professional editor, however, should be current on these standards, not to mention having the resources to research them.
Detachment: Your editor is not your friend, partner, or fellow story teller. She’s a professional, hired by you to perform a job. She’s not going to flatter you just so you’ll like her. For an editor, it’s not about making friends. It’s about doing the job and doing it well.
Your critique partner is essential. He’ll help you strengthen the story and encourage you along the way, but being a good cheerleader doesn’t make for a good editor. Don’t sacrifice one person for the other. Take the time to have both sets of eyes review your manuscript. An acceptance letter will be worth the wait.