1. What kind of editing do I want done?
A content or substantive 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. Know whether you want one or the other or both and find out what each costs?
2. Is this person 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. Get 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. If you want a memoir or family history edited, you don’t want an editor who specializes in self-help or how-to books.
5. Does the editor offer a short consultation or edit 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.