You have written books yourself. Do you believe someone can self-edit or should everyone have someone else edit their writing?
Writers always edit their own material. They pretty much have to. How they do it can make a difference:
- More or less edit as they go--write some, edit that, repeat.
- Use what I call the Jay Cronley method (I once worked at the same newspaper with Jay, who wrote Funny Farm, Quick Change and other novels that were made into movies). It goes: write, lay it aside a while--he recommended two weeks at least--and go back over it.
- Or a combination, which I think most writers do.
For however little it's worth, like most other writers, I keep an eye on things while I write--check facts, spellings, syntax, etc. And sometimes, especially while writing fiction, I'll set the work aside for a few days before I'll go back to read it from the beginning or some point far enough back to suit me. I'll edit as I go, and pick up where I left off. After I write the end, that begins a whole other, long cycle of rereading and revision, beginning to end.
But every writer is different, and every project is different. Still, the point to be made is that every writer self-edits.
The big question is, can we trust self-editing as sufficient for publication?
Short answer: No.
Full disclosure: I did, years ago, self-publish a solely self-edited title. How I wish I hadn't. And I never will again. I'm not saying I didn't edit and revise and rewrite, like the experts counsel. I certainly did. And I'm not reticent about my skills as an editor--I'll tell anyone, I'm one of the best I know. But that time I learned that confidence won't catch everything. And it can't stretch nearly enough to cover comprehensive developmental editing of my own work. I see that truth reinforced every time I write for publication, regardless of the project.
In a nutshell, others' eyes see other things. Also, a writer must never forget that she or he may be a reader, but is not and cannot be the reader. Through each story, fiction or otherwise, runs a boundary as real as it is invisible. On one side is the writer, whose understanding of the story and everything to do with it is necessarily more intimate and complete. On the other is the reader, who must be introduced to the story, word by word, idea by idea.
Only an independent editor can be relied upon to make sure the story works for the reader.
Having dealt with all that, the next matter to consider is the editor. The only advice I dare to offer and that even approaches specificity is to find one you can trust. How you work that out has to be up to you.
What kind of editors do I trust? I trust ones who edit for the reader.