You are finished, or almost finished with the manuscript for your book. You have revised it diligently and asked friends and family to act as beta-readers. You are happy with what you have, but you understand why people like Ricky Pittman of Writers Weekly say, ““Every writer has blind spots to his or her own writing.” You know that when Jerry Simmons of Readers and Writers says, “Having an objective, experienced eye to evaluate and edit your work is worth its weight in gold,” he’s right. You want to find a good editor for your book.
How do you know when a person is the right editor for you? Here are five questions that will help you decide:
1. What kind of editing do I want done?
A content edit, seeks to improve the quality of your manuscript, to make it more coherent, by adding, changing, cutting or reordering elements of the book. The goal is to help you tell your story well. A copy edit focuses on correctness of grammar, syntax, word choice, punctuation and spelling. Both are important, but they are often sold separately and at different rates. Decide whether you want one or the other, or both, and find out what each costs. These costs can vary.
2. Is this editor someone I’d be comfortable working with?
In some respects this is the most important question. Revising a manuscript can be a very personal and sensitive process. You don’t want someone who makes you feel like you’re back in high school English, looking at red marks all over your paper. Choose someone who will work collaboratively with you to help you improve your book.
3. What is the editor’s experience?
You’ll want to find out how long the person has been editing and something about the books they’ve edited. Ask for testimonials from clients the editor has worked with.
4. Is the editor familiar with your genre?
In particular you’ll want to make sure that the editor is experienced in your genre.
Editor Nancy Peske calls it the #1 myth about hiring an editor. “Any editor can help you with any type of book you’d like to publish.” In reality, says Peske, “Excellent editors may work in several genres, but for the most part, editors specialize. They can’t be experts on everything, and an editor with integrity will tell you flat out if he’s not the right person to help you with your book.”
If you want a fantasy novel, memoir or family history edited, you don’t want an editor who specializes in mysteries, self-help or how-to books.
5. Does the editor offer a consultation to allow you to see how he or she would edit your work?
Many editors may offer manuscript evaluation or hourly consultations on a portion of your manuscript. These generally come at a relatively low price and let you get a sense of what you can expect from this person. It will definitely give you an insight as to whether they will be a good fit for you
Here’s an important final thought. Making sure you choose the best editor for your manuscript rather than the cheapest one will help you make sure that your self-published book realizes its full potential.