Do we really need a professional editor to hack and slash our deathless prose – well yes, in general we do. There are very few people who can effectively edit their own work, simply because it’s almost impossible to be objective.
How to get around this, if you can’t afford to hire an editor? One way is to join a writing group, where your writing can be reviewed by others. The only drawback to that is you’re dealing with “amateurs”, who may or may not have the ability to proof read all the tiny little errors that appear. Having said that, I’ve been very fortunate in my own workshop group, in that one member is a journalist and another is a school librarian. Both are well versed in culling excess adverbs, repetitions, inconsistencies and rampant punctuation.
Another option is to read your work aloud and record it. When you listen back to it, it’s much easier to spot errors. You could also choose to download a reading programme, which will read highlighted text back to you. The only problem with some of these programmes is that the “voice” can sound like a computer, with no highs or lows. However, if you can get past that, they too are great at pointing out mistakes.
Make no mistake about it, editing, whether professional or DIY, is crucial. One only has to read some of the self published works to realise this. Your work is your baby and you have to give it the best start in life you can.