How to find an editor? It’s a big hurdle for many new indie writers, and was my own greatest worry when I was at that stage with Rise of the Sparrows.
I knew it was the most important thing I needed to do for my book, but where to start? Which edit did I need? Would an editor change my book? How expensive was this going to get?
Editors aren’t scary*. They’re people who want the same thing for your book you do–the best.
There are personal differences, of course, so it’s important you find the right editor for you. How do you do that?
Allow me to show you.
*I’m definitely not just saying that because I am one.
The Right Editor for Your Book
Before we begin the
hunt search, let’s define who the ‘right’ editor is. What do you want from this partnership?
Above all else, you should hire an editor who gets you and your book, and who can help you draw the most out of your characters and your world. All editors can do this, of course, but not every editor will connect with your writing.
For many writers, their editor is also their ideal reader. I’m one of those lucky writers. My editor knows what I want from my writing, because we’re on the same wavelength.
You’ll be working closely with your editor, so ask yourself what you want and who you’d rather not work with.
Search Your Social Media
If you’ve been building your author platform for a while, you might already have added an editor or two. In fact, this is how I found mine!
If you have added some, go to their websites and take a look at what they offer. Is it what you’re after? If not, move on. If it is, make a note of their name and maybe send them an email or a message on Twitter.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just something like ‘Hi, I’m [your name here] and I’m looking for an editor for my [your genre here] novel. Do you accept new customers?’
Editing a book takes time, so don’t assume the editor of your choice is free right now. You may need to book in advance–but if you want this editor, it’s worth the wait.
Your Choice of Edits
I honestly had no idea what to choose. Turned out, how to find an editor wasn’t as complicated as picking the right type!
Here’s a quick summary:
A developmental edit is the most expensive service you can get, but it’s also the most in-depth. Your editor looks for larger issues and fixes, such as plot holes, paradoxes, and pregnancies that last 12 months.
A line edit makes sure your sentences and paragraphs flow well, make sense, and are generally easy to read. Things like repetitions and unnecessary words are cut here.
The proofread is often the smallest and cheapest edit you can pay for. Your editor fixes spelling mistakes and missing punctuation; therefore, it’s the quickest edit to apply to your WIP.
It’s what most people think of when they hear ‘editor’.
Some editors also offer manuscript evaluations. It’s the cheapest edit you can get, but it’s also not in-depth. Instead, you’ll get a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as some other things you might want to consider. For example, if your writing is repetitive, your feedback will say so but it won’t highlight examples in the writing.
It can be perfect if you want professional feedback but don’t feel ready for a full edit just yet, or if you want to know where your writing shines and where it needs improvements.
Also, make sure the editor you want edits the genre you write. Not every editor works with epic fantasy, and many editors aren’t happy to take on erotica.
Moreover, some editors only do proofreads, while others only offer developmental rounds.
Their websites should say which services they specialise in, but ask if you’re not sure.
Every edit is priced differently, and as with everything in this industry, every editor charges different fees.
Editors who’ve been in this business for a while tend to charge by the hour. This can get pricey fast (and it’s harder to get an accurate estimate of the fee), but you might find their experience reassuring.
Honestly, editors charge anything from per page to per word to per hour. Ask for a quote before you commit to anything, so there are no nasty surprises later.
Some editors charge for each edit separately. Others include a proofread with the line edit, and a proofread and line edit with the developmental round. Some give returning customers a discount.
Never assume you know what you’ll be charged. Unless you hoard a secret fortune under your basement, I’m guessing you’ll want to know numbers rather than hope for the best.
Speaking of–don’t expect to pay £50/$75 for a full developmental edit of 150,000 words. Edits take time, a lot of work, and thought. An editor who takes pride in their work won’t charge you peanuts for something that’ll take them months to complete.
Get to Know the Editor
If the editor you want is on social media, you can get to know them a little first. Make sure your personalities don’t clash and that you’re a good match. Any edit is teamwork, so it’s important you don’t dislike each other.
While it’s secondary, perhaps, to the editor’s skill, I do think it matters. My editor is funny, friendly, and supportive all the way through. I wouldn’t want to work with someone who’s so serious you can see their blank expression in every note they send you.
An easy way to get to know your editor is by requesting a sample edit. Most editors offer this, but the amount they offer varies. Some offer to edit the whole first chapter for free, some will do the first page, while others will do the first ten pages.
It’ll give you a good idea of whether you’ve found the right editor for you, or whether you need to keep looking.
British English and American English
Many editors are happy to work with either. I write my books in British English, but I’m happy to edit American English. My own editor is American and doesn’t change got to gotten because she knows which is British.
So don’t let an ocean between you and your top choice get in the way! Editors should know the difference, but ask the one you want to be sure.
Signing the Contract
Yes, there’ll likely be a contract. It’s nothing scary–it’s just a confirmation of the services and fees you both agreed on. It’s safety and assurance for both sides.
While it’s not common for people to make you do all the work and then mysteriously disappear without paying a penny, it happens. The contract is just there to make sure they have to pay at the end of it.
This may sound scary, but it shouldn’t be unless you’re planning on cheating your editor once all the work is done.
We do have blacklists, and we talk to each other.
Sometimes, shit happens. Your editor knows this and won’t hold it against you. If something’s come up and you can no longer pay the full deposit or final fee, talk to your editor.
Not all editors are equally flexible, but it’s unlikely they’ll get mad because you had unexpected hospital bills, or because your car has broken down and can’t be fixed.
Contrary to popular belief, editors aren’t monsters. If life gets tough, email yours and see if you can’t work something out.
I’m willing to bet they’ll understand your situation.
In two weeks, we’ll look at how different social media sites can help you build your author platform. In the meantime, you might also like:
Do you have any other questions about hiring an editor or the process itself? Have you had a bad experience and are unsure about trying again? Would you like a recommendation? Make a tea, and chat with me! 🙂
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