Hiring an editor can sometimes seem to be a bit of a minefield, full of do’s and don’ts. It’s super important to have a proper editor look over your work, so I’ve thrown open my blog to the brilliant Sarah Fox to give you 8 crucial things to consider when you think about hiring an editor!
Take it away, Sarah!
Hiring an editor can be more stressful than selecting a house or a spouse. Okay, so it isn’t that bad, but it can feel that way. Your book is your baby, so it is probably about as stressful as finding the perfect babysitter. If you have the wrong editor, your life can become a living hell. If you select the right one, it can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I have eight criteria for you to help you pick the perfect one.
Cost can be an instant deal breaker. If an editor is outside of your price range, there is simply no way you can work with him or her. Period. Please don’t be that person who asks for a discount or a special deal. Would you do that to a lawyer or doctor?
However, you don’t want to go for the cheapest editor either. You usually get what you pay for in life. It is definitely worthwhile to research the rates of potential editors and save up in advance.
A lot of people claim they are editors because they have edited a friend’s paper in college. You don’t want to hire one of those people.
- Do they have actual experience editing?
- Have they worked for a company?
- Do they a portfolio or client testimonials?
Make sure the person you are working with has at least some experience editing in a professional context.
Make sure the editor’s expertise aligns with your work. If someone specialises in editing cookbooks, you don’t want him or her editing your fantasy novel. Genres have certain conventions, and you want your editor to be familiar with them. Make sure the editor has knowledge of your genre.
4) Type of Editing
There are three general types of editing (terms and definitions can vary slightly depending on the editor).
Developmental editing is when an editor reviews your story for plot holes, lack of character development, etc.
Copy-editing is when the editor checks your grammar and makes sure your writing is organised in a logical way. This also includes suggestions on how to reword sentences or restructure paragraphs.
Proofreading is when the editor checks for typos and layout problems.
Some editors only do developmental editing while others do all three types of editing. Hire an editor that actually does the type of editing you need.
Does the editor share the same vision for your work as you do? Let’s say you are writing a campy novel. You don’t want to work with an editor who wants you to make it a serious, earnest piece. A good way to see if you are aligned is to get a sample edit from the editor or talk to him or her on the phone or Skype.
Editors have different processes. Some will edit your document in Word with track changes and others will use a Google doc. Some will reread your document several times before sending your manuscript back to you while others will charge for each read.
Make sure your editor’s process works well for you. If you don’t have Word on your computer, you probably don’t want to work with an editor who only edits in Word.
7) Communication Style
It is absolutely imperative that you have compatible communication styles or you will have a long road ahead of you. If your initial email exchanges are stilted or confusing, then it is not a good sign for the future.
You also want to make sure the way the editor communicates his or her edits works for you. Some editors will meet with you on Skype to discuss the edits with you while others will just send you edits without explanation.
Also, you want to make sure his or her type of comments jive with you. Some editors will be straight shooters with their suggestions while others will try to deliver bad news gently. Make sure you don’t end up with an editor that leaves you sobbing every time you get edits back. Again, a quick phone call or sample edit can clear this up.
Is this someone you actually enjoy talking to and spending time with? You will be spending a long time with this person, so you make sure you actually like him or her. You are handing over something very important and personal to this person. Make sure it is someone you can trust.
If you get bad vibes from the person, run for the hills. Your gut is always right. Often it comes down to that certain “X” factor. You either click with the person or you don’t.
I hope these criteria help you find your perfect fit when hiring an editor, and you ride off into a beautiful, bookish sunset together.
Over to you, folks! Have you got any burning questions about hiring an editor that you’d like Sarah to answer? Pop them in the comments below!
Sarah Fox is a novel writing coach and editor who helps ambitious authors start and complete their novels.
When she is not working on her own novel, she writes for Quirk Books and Imaginary Book Club.
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