Author Steps – Choosing An Editor
Posted on June 7, 2013
I’m working hard to get my current writing ready to start the editorial process. I thought it might be helpful to others who are beginning to look for professionals to help with your own work to know how I went about choosing my main editor, Cheryl of Ink Slinger Editorial Services.
There are a lot of freelance editors that you can find through online searches, many who work for themselves as well as for publishing houses. The services they provide can vary as can their fees. Some charge hourly while others charge per word. Part of my own research was done when I created my own editing business that is now on hold while I’m working on my own writing. But instead of me going through my process of who to hire, I want to feature what my awesome editor Cheryl wrote in her blog post that truly breaks down the first steps in finding an editor that will work the best for you.
You can find her full blog post titled “Is your editor doing the job you expect?” here, but here are some of her bigger points:
“Editors can be expensive, and the quality of work you’ll get varies widely. Like anything else in life, you’ll want to research your editor choices and get referrals. Check out any books they’ve edited if they’re listed. Don’t be afraid to ask for titles if they aren’t…
“Proofreading and copyediting are two very different jobs. Authors often confuse a proofread with a light copyedit. If you need someone to tame your compulsive comma abuse, you’re asking for a light copyedit. If you need someone to go over your MS one last time for any missed comma corrections and grammar errors, then you’re getting a proof. Be honest about your needs and hire appropriately. When you do, you’ll get the most out of your money…
“No matter what, there are basic things a copyeditor should do. Let’s review what a copyeditor does. I’m including proofers, because it is technically editing, but I’m adding the distinctions between a proofer and a copyeditor, so you know what you’re getting with each. If you skip a copyedit and go straight to a proofreading, you might find that what you think you’re getting a proofer to do is beyond their scope of duty (and sometimes training). Some generous editors that receive a proofreading project that has not been edited may choose to continue with a very light copyedit if the errors are mild enough, but more often than not, they’ll return it with a note stating it’s not yet ready for proofing and offer copyediting services instead…”.
Read the whole blog post here to see Cheryl’s simple overview of editing in three steps. I would also add that you want to check what genres the editors typically work with. One of the reasons I chose Cheryl of Ink Slinger Editorial Services is because she works specifically with speculative fiction, which covers almost all of my works.
When you find your short list of possible editors, see if they will do a sample of your work. You should try out an editor to see if they work well with you, but this does not mean agreeing with you on every point. You want an editor to do their job, which is to get your writing in its best shape possible. But you also don’t want to work with an editor that you know you’ll be fighting with right off the bat. Getting samples from different editors will help you know who you communicate well with as well as who gives you high quality work.
Cheryl’s blog post can help get you started on your journey of finding the right editor for you. Hopefully, you will also be able to start building your team of professionals to help you get your work ready for publishing, whether that is to self-publish or to start querying agents.
Tagged: Book, Communications, copy-edit, edit, editor, Proofreading, Publishing, Writing and Editing
Based on the average number of copies a self-published book sells, it has always appeared to me that a professional editor will charge more than the book is likely to make. Did this possibility figure into your thoughts as you began researching the best editor for your work?
Malcolm, thanks for asking your question. When adding up the cost for editing, especially for higher levels of editing like developmental, the total cost starts looking very daunting. As a former editor, I can understand the fear of investing that money and not getting the return back.
My philosophy is that the best amount of money I can invest is in a good editing of my book. If my book is edited to the best it can be, it will be a better read. If it’s a better read, then it is more likely to get good reviews from readers. A work that isn’t well edited risks losing readers. One of the biggest points that people who are against self-published authors is the editing seemingly not being as strong.
One of the ways I can keep my costs down are to edit myself as much as possible. Even if I weren’t a former editor, there are ways to do that without spending much money. One is to get beta readers to help catch general problems in the story – structure, continuity, ideas. Most beta readers will read for free. The other is to read the work out loud to catch as many issues grammatically as possible. If you I can get my work in its finest form prior to getting it to my editor, it won’t cost as much either with a per word rate or hourly.
There is a definite correlation between the stronger a writer is, the less work an editor will do. But the other side is that if you find a good editor, he or she can make writing shine.
I don’t look at the investment per book either. For self-published writers, it usually takes more than one book to catch a regular audience. So while the money may not be made back immediately, the idea is that it will eventually.
So in my budgeting for my book, the most money I have ready is earmarked for editing (with the second most being for a professional-looking cover).
These are good points, ones that are often skipped over by a lot of people as they rush books into print. The book has to capture people’s attention for the editing to matter (other than the writer’s personal satisfaction). Bad editing turns readers away. Great editing usually isn’t noticed because people expect it if most of the books they read come from mainstream publishers. What I would want would be a promotional effort that brought in enough readers to pay for the editing. Nothing is certain here, though suffice it to say, paying for the editing will take more than a couple of blog tours. 🙂