How to Find Your Perfect Editor

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How to Find Your Perfect Editor

Katie Cook No Comments

The writer/editor relationship is a trusted partnership. A good editor will strengthen the author’s writing without changing their voice or purpose. Finding the right editor is a bit like finding a good doctor, you want someone you can confidently trust with your most precious resource—your writing.

Qualities of a Good Editor

Editing is a mix of knowledge, intuition, and skill. You want an editor that listens and understands you and your intended audience. The editor should know the rules of grammar and the ins-and-outs of a style manual, but they should also have the insight to know when to bend the rules to support the author’s style. Supportive yet exacting, the editor’s goal is to provide the polish so the author can shine.

Five Tips for Choosing Your Editor

1. Understand the types of editing.

  • If you need help at the sentence level and are looking for someone to fix punctuation, find typos, and make sure you’ve used “its” and “it’s” correctly you will want to hire a copy editor.
  • If you need help at the paragraph level, revising sentences for clarity and flow and creating seamless transitions from one paragraph to the next you should find a line editor.
  • If you need help organizing your thoughts, structuring your work so it flows better, or need to cut 200 words from an essay, you should seek out the services of a developmental editor, like me!

The Editorial Freelancers Association provides a handy overview on the types of editing and the suggested rates for each.

2. Search by specialty.

Much like you wouldn’t ask a podiatrist to diagnose your stomach pain, a legal editor probably isn’t the best fit for your sci-fi novel. While all editors are able to spot a typo, you’ll get the most helpful feedback from an editor that specializes in your genre.

3. Evaluate a sample edit.

Most editors will provide you with a free sample edit. The length of the sample edit varies by genre and type of edit, but the standard is usually 4-10 pages. Often, an editor will ask to look at the entire work before accepting a job. This allows the editor to evaluate your work and make recommendations for the type and level of editing service needed. After receiving your sample edit you’ll want to closely review all of the edits. Look at the edit overall and make sure that you agree with the style of edit and the directions and suggestions that the editor provided.

4. Make sure you communicate well.

Before hiring an editor come to an agreement on how you will communicate. Do you want to work over email? Or do you prefer to discuss things over the phone? Clarify your prefered mode of communication and make sure that the editor is also comfortable with the arrangement. Communication also extends to the editing process. Will you work in Google Docs, Word, PDF, or hard copy? The editor you select should have the experience and tools to edit in your preferred medium. By clarifying the process and your expectations from the beginning you help ensure a fluid, positive working relationship.

5. Look at their previous work and recommendations.

Anyone can call themselves an editor, and there is a big difference between a professional editor and someone who can spot a typo in the Sunday paper. If the editor doesn’t have a website, don’t be afraid to ask for a list of books or publications that they have worked on and ask them to share some recommendations or client testimonials. If the editor’s only qualification is that they have self-published a book, take the time to read a bit of the book to evaluate their work. Everyone needs to start somewhere, but if you are apprehensive about an editor’s qualifications you should find another editor.

A supportive and knowledgeable editor is a valuable asset. Hiring an editor can be a significant investment—take the time to choose wisely.

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Your business is unique, that’s why I tailor my services to fit your needs. Tell me about what you’re working on and I’ll let you know how I can help. What are you waiting for? Schedule your free 30-minute consultation today.