There are many editorial consultancies and freelance editors who will, for a fee, help writers polish and refine their work before submission: but are they worth using, and what are the drawbacks of using these services?
The first, most obvious drawback is that there is no guarantee your book will be signed even if you do pay to have it edited. Even the best editors can’t turn a badly-conceived book into a best-seller: what they can do, though, is take your raw material and help you make it the best that it can be.
Then there’s the issue of cost: if you want to employ a good editor you have to pay a good, professional rate—even though there is no guarantee of a book deal at the end of it.
It’s also important to remember that there are a lot of people who are keen to part you from your money. There are plenty of freelance editors who don’t have the skills they claim to have who won’t help you improve anything about your manuscript: if you’re going to use a freelance editor you must ensure that they have real professional publishing experience.
Finally, is it really a good idea for you to pay a freelance editor to bring your book up to scratch before you submit them? As usual, it depends. If you learn how to edit your own work effectively as a result of using paid-for editors, and put those new skills to work on subsequent books then yes, it probably is worth doing; but if you learn only how to refine the book in question, and can’t then work on your next book without the same level of assistance then there might well be trouble ahead. Especially if your publisher is expecting your second book to be as capable as your first.