Ah, the daunting task of finding an editor. And not just any editor . . . the right editor. The one who will mesh the best with you and your style of writing. From knowing what kind of editing your manuscript needs to understanding pricing, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
First things first:
- Ask for a sample edit.
Most editors will provide a free sample edit, generally up to a certain word or page count. This is a great way to gauge if you and your editor will be a good fit; it gives you an opportunity to take a look at what kind of feedback the editor gives. Did they mesh well with your particular voice? Did they allow your writing to keep its unique tone and voice, or did the editor try to mold it to fit their own voice? Did they miss any glaring errors? Was their feedback constructive and helpful, or was it condescending?
- Find out what kind of experience and/or qualifications they have.
Have they worked for a publishing house? Do they have many years experience, or are they just starting out? Keep in mind that’s there’s nothing wrong with opting for someone who’s just starting out; in fact, it may save you a few bucks. You might find college students or even professors who freelance part-time. I, myself, am a college student, majoring in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in fiction, and will soon be offering editing services — keep checking back!(Personal experience: I once made the mistake of not finding out an editor’s experience/qualifications. She had a good price on manuscript evaluations, so I figured, why not? I was looking for feedback beyond beta readers on a manuscript I’d already done several rounds of revisions on. Some of her comments made it sound like she barely dealt with the public — quite condescending and closed-minded. Also, her feedback was all over the place and contradictory. She came across more like somebody who just likes to read as opposed to a qualified editor. Fortunately, I was only out ~$20 and a lesson learned.)
- Know what their main focus is.
What type of editing are they most comfortable with? Proofreading, copy, or developmental? Substantive/line? Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Some editors may focus solely on one or the other, while some may do more than one. What’s also important is to know what type of editing your manuscript needs. Proofreading should be the very last step, while developmental should come first.
- Find out their pricing before asking for a sample edit.
Don’t waste their time and your time by asking for a sample edit before finding out if they’re out of your budget.
Finding the right editor, the one who meshes well with you and your writing, can make all the difference in the editing stages of your manuscript. Working with the wrong editor will make the whole experience unpleasant (and potentially cost you more money if you end up having to hire a different editor — I’ve been there!). Take the time to make a list of potential editors and ask for sample edits, and make sure to keep an open mind to editors.
Here are some extra resources to help you find the right editor:
The Editorial Freelancers Association: www.the-efa.org
Standout Books: https://www.standoutbooks.com/how-choose-right-editor/
The Creative Penn: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/07/14/how-to-find-the-right-editor/
The Write Life: https://thewritelife.com/how-to-find-an-editor-crucial-questions/