This is a question that I hear a lot.
In my opinion, yes, you should. I understand that your sister’s, husband’s cousin is a high school English teacher, and that he checked over your books, and that you are an accomplished writer who majored in English in university. I understand that you had everyone in your local writers group look over it and give you reviews. I understand that you have jumped through every inexpensive and free hoop to have others edit your book. However, unless a professional and experienced editor, being someone who went to post-secondary specifically with the intent of being an editor, who dreams of grammar and breathes syntax, and who makes this their bread and butter, works with your book, it really isn’t going to mean much.
But it’s expensive!!!
Ok, so it costs money, and that isn’t something that grows on trees. I get that. I understand that you have put a lot of work into this book, and that you feel like, now, that you have completed the writing process, you are done. You want to get this show on the road, and get this baby printed, converted to an eBook, just on the market already.
I have to ask you though, would you do your hair up, or spend some time putting on your makeup, and then proceed to waltz out of your house naked? Not likely. I also imagine that you wouldn’t feel like you had put your time in after a few years of raising your kids, and send them off into the world on their own at five either. I know that these are extreme analogies, but really, it’s true. If your book isn’t polished, then it really isn’t ready for literary consumption yet. Would you think that it would be fair for you to pay for a book and not have it be the best that it could be?
I’m not giving my book up to some stranger, just so that they can mess it up!
I know that it can be a scary thought, as well. Many authors self-publish because they don’t want to lose control over their content. The thought of giving their book to an editor and saying, here you go, do as you wish, it is intimidating. It is important that you find an editor that you are comfortable with, and that you are sure is the right fit. Get them to do a couple sample pages for you, using pages where you are the most concerned about the content, and see what they do. Express clearly to them what you are trying to convey, and what tone you are trying to set. Then, once you are sure that you have the right person for the job, trust them.
They are there to help you, and to help your book. They are only being honest and looking out for you if they tell you that something is wrong with the way that you wrote that sentence, or that you have a part in your book that doesn’t actually pertain to the story. They aren’t trying to bully you. Also, if you get an editor that uses a format like Word, where you can choose to accept or reject changes, you have the power to do just that. Listen to what they have to say, learn from them, and grow as an author in the process.
At the end of the day, though, I will tell you what I tell all of our authors, the decision is yours to make.