I am currently working on a novel that is just about finished.  I know I need to put it aside before I attempt to  revise.  However, I was wondering what most of you thought regarding revision.  Is it best to self edit or have a professional editor revise?  

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I checked out meetup for my area (NJ outside of NYC) and there were some meetings in Montclair, but more of a writing jam-session type of meeting. I'm looking to find two or three other writers of YA/MG to work with as serious crit partners!

If you are a children's or YA author, join Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). It's a national group, with local chapters. Once you join you can get on the listserv and then just ask if there are any groups looking for a new member. That is how I was lucky enough to find mine. They truly are the best help and support for me.

Also, check your local library. If there isn't one already, you can always ask a librarian to help you organize one.

Tx Shannon!

I have considered joining SCBWI - also considered going to the conference in NJ in June. I didn't know that the listserv exists, I thought there were only online forums. Sounds like a really good option, and definitely makes the $80 membership fee seem more reasonable!

And yes, I'm MG/YA and am looking for 2-3 serious crit partners in the Maplewood/Montclair NJ area . . .

Join! I dragged my feet for two years before joining. Now, I can't imagine not being a member. Once you  join, you'll see there are many perks to being a part of such a diverse and supportive writing community (like She Writes!).

First, I searched for a writers association or guild in the area where I live.  In that association, they had a directory of writing groups by genre.  The groups tend to be small so you need to find a group that is looking/open to new members. 

In my experience, people come and go based on where they are in their writing journey. 


I think you need to self-edit first, just to have something a bit more "presentable" to show people. Beta readers (if you're lucky enough to have them and they're able to offer an honest critique) can be the next step. This will give you an indication of confusing areas, parts where it gets slow/unbelievable, and so on. At that point, I think you need a proper editor. If you can find someone to offer an exchange, then wonderful. If you have the money to have a professional editor work on the novel, then great. What you can't do, however, is hope that your book will be taken seriously without editing, and that a publisher will have it edited for you. They may, but some don't.

I was astonished at the things I missed after quite a few self-editing and revision passes...including whole sections where I'd used two characters' names interchangeably! So embarrassing. :)

I check the pacing and structure for myself. The critique groups I've used have been extremely helpful to me and I've been with them several years now. Over all flow is one of my strongest parts of writing and critiquing. I guess it's different for every author. I've run across some fabulous posts about structure by a writer/editor and have taken his advice to heart.


He also has a book out that focuses on just story structure.


I hope this helps. :)

Critique groups sounds like a great idea.  Can you inform me of some good ones?

I just pitch my first novel to agents at a writer's conference and I was asked by a few of them if I had had my novel edited by an editor which I had.  First I did a revision and then I sent it to the editor. The evaluation I received was tremendously helpful. 

Hi Jerilyn,

I've been accepted to a pitch conference in November, and would also like a final pass done by a professional editor. I potentially have someone, but I was curious how you found yours and if it was someone who specializes in your genre (mine is adult urban fantasy/paranormal romance).



If your goal is to publish or self-publish, I would suggest doing both. When you revise yourself, little details will come to light that aren't exactly as you'd hoped they would be. You might notice a verb in one chapter and a sentence structure in another that don't convey exactly what you wanted them to convey. (I am in a MFA  in writing program and we have to do revisions but now that I am doing them I can really see the wisdom of the process.) Then, unless you are a grammar guru (God knows I'm not!), it is very much worth it to bring in a friend from the pub. industry or a hired pro with professional editing experience. Pros see the the missing comma and the small consistency glitch that the writer doesn't. I take the time to point this out because a friend of mine just self-published a fun children's book with engaging characters. However, the same minor grammar mistake is repeated several times and it distracts the reader from his storytelling.




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