Whether you’re in the process of writing a novel or looking to polish a completed manuscript one thing every writer needs at the end is an editor. You need someone that’s experienced, knowledgeable and meshes well with your style of writing. This can be harder than it may seem. If you do a simple google search for an editor you’ll see a nearly endless amount of results with editors of all types offering their services. So, where do you start? How do you find the editor that’s right for you?
Well, those are the questions that I’ve been asking myself recently too. And here’s some of what I’ve learned along the way.
- First of all, if you are using Google to try and find your editor you’re already going in the wrong direction. That magic abbreviation, SEO, means that the results you find in Google may not always be the best ones. People spend a lot of money to get their websites at the top of the list. Some of them are perfectly legitimate, but there are a good few that are not reputable editors or simply scam artists. When it comes to editors your best bet is word of mouth from other writers that have used their services. Don’t trust testimonials on their sites. It’s easy enough to fake them or cherry pick only good reviews while ignoring the bad ones. Personally, I’d be a little wary of someone that claimed that every single one of their clients was satisfied and not a single one had anything remotely bad to say about them.
- While the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” is something we wish that our readers did it’s very easy to apply that same rule to a website. Your website represents you on the internet and it speaks volumes about how you wish to be presented. That’s part of the reason why I recently took time to revamp mine, as I wanted to present a better image of myself. If I visit an editor’s website and it looks like it hasn’t been updated in 10 years, or if it’s poorly constructed, information is missing, or anything else looks suspect on it I will skip them without a second thought. Is it fair to the editor? Perhaps not, but if you can’t take the time to ensure that you have a presentable website then that makes me wonder about what other things you may be slacking off on.
- Another important topic is the pricing. Just about every editor has different pricing for their services. Take the time to review their pricing and do some calculations ahead of time to ensure that their pricing is not only fair, but affordable to you. It’s very easy for editing costs to get out of control. Also, make sure their pricing matches their credentials. If someone only has a Bachelor’s degree and very little experience editing and they’re trying to charge, let’s say, $80 an hour then I would be extremely suspicious of that. This leads into the next point.
- Make a list of editors you’re interested in and research each and every one of them before you even send an email out. Check out their Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Whatever you do don’t go in blindly. I like to look at past interviews and forum posts that mention them. I’ll list a few reputable places to find information at the bottom of this post.
- After you have narrowed down your list to editors that you’re intent on contacting I encourage you to have them edit a sample of your writing; the first page or first 5 pages is usually the standard in that regard. Most editors will do this for free. Editors that want to charge you for a sample edit should also be highly questionable. Personally, I wouldn’t use an editor that wouldn’t provide me a sample of their work without charging me for it. When you’re working with an editor you’re trusting them with dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of your work. You want someone that is going to be able to get the most out of your writing, identify your weaknesses and truly care about helping you succeed as a writer.
- Time their responses to your inquiries. If you’re attempting to contact an editor and it takes them a week, two weeks, a month or more to respond then that’s a very good sign that they’re either overbooked or slacking in their duties. With the ease of communication that emails provide these days there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t get back to you in a timely manner (I consider this 24 – 48 hours). If said editor is so busy that they absolutely cannot respond to emails fast enough to get responses to you in a reasonable time frame then that editor needs to hire a secretary or bring in more editors to assist them with their tasks. Again, be extremely wary of any editor that falls under this category.
- Never pay in full before receiving their work. Standard practice is to pay half up front and half when the work is completed. When you pay them up front they then have your money. From that point it’s very easy for them to delay finishing your edits or simply run with your cash without another word.
- Before even starting your search for an editor be certain of what kind of editing you need. There’s several different forms of editing that vary quite a bit on what they actually cover in your manuscript. If you purchase Copy Editing, but in fact need Developmental Editing, then you’ll be extremely disappointed with the results. Another potential form of editing is hiring an editor as a Mentor. These editors will typically work very closely with you, point out flaws in your writing, and help you strengthen your writing by coming up with exercises to improve your ability in a certain area. This tends to be one of the most expensive ways to hire an editor, but for a newer author it can be extremely productive. Having beta readers or critiquers is a great way to get feedback on your writing, but only a seasoned editor can give you what you really need to get your book ready for publication.
I hope these tips have helped. There is an ocean of editors on the internet and it’s extremely easy to become lost within it as you try and figure out what and who you want. As promised, here are a few links to websites where you can usually find out about an editor without having to rely on Google.
Somewhere out there is an editor for you. Best of luck in your search.
Until next time.