Since the advent of self-publishing, there has been a huge number of editors offering their services with a varied range of experience, price, attention to detail, and style. Finding and then choosing one isn’t always easy, and can be very daunting the first time.
1. Decide what sort of editing help you need
All editing is not created equal. Editing types range all the way from content to developmental edits, which will give you a general idea of where your story is strong and where it is weak. I usually start with this kind of editing. On the other end of the scale, is proofreading, which only picks up obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. In between, you can get various forms of line and copyediting, and I’m not completely sure of the difference! Most editors will tell you what services they offer, and the different prices they charge for each service. Some will offer a mix of styles.
Once you know what sort of editing you need, you will be able to ensure that the editor you choose can do the things you need to improve your story. You may need more than one editor/edit pass on your book. I usually have two, a developmental/story edit, and then a copy/line edit.
2. Don’t just use Google to search for ‘editors’
Yes, if you do this you will get a LOT of search results. And the ones up the top will be the most popular, most expensive, and probably booked months in advance. If you have the money to spare, by all means, pick the best! If you’re like me, and on a budget, this will probably just discourage you.
Turn away from Google, and head for your favourite writing forum. NaNoWriMo, Goodreads, Kboards, World Lit Café, the official Kindle boards, and many others, all have boards where people can advertise their skills, and you will find many posts with people offering their editing services. If you can’t find one, start one to ask for recommendations! You should be able to quickly build lists of edits that are suitable, and hopefully, some that are in your price range.
Which brings me to my next tip:
3. Know your budget
Before you choose an editor, or even before you look at too many, you need to decide how much can you afford to spend on editing. Be realistic. If this is your first or even your second book, don’t decide how much to spend based on how much you’re hoping to earn! (Unless your first book sold thousands of copies, in which case, ignore me and go write more books!) The reality is, that a $2,000 editor probably isn’t going to mean you earn an extra $2,000 on your book! Editing is important, but it doesn’t sell books on its own (cover and story are far more effective at this).
Once you have an idea of your budget, stick to it. The first thing I look for when I go to an editors webpage is the price section. If it’s out of my budget, I close the page and go on to the next one. If they don’t tell me what their price is, I do the same, because it’s almost certain to be out of my price range! Generally, I have a range – what I’d like to spend, and what I’m prepared to spend if I find an editor I just love.
Editors charge in different ways. Some (very few) will list prices for certain word counts, some will offer a price per page, and some will offer an hourly rate. If the price is per page, make sure you ask the editor what constitutes a page, as this varies! Some count 500 words as a page, other’s just count pages, but when your manuscript has certain margins, font size, and line spacing. Work out how much your whole manuscript will cost before you commit.
4. Consider your timeframe
When I first started looking at editors, I was surprised at how quickly they booked out. Many are booked out months in advance! If you’re trying to find an editor at the last minute, be prepared to either pay a lot more than you wanted to or to make do with an editor who wouldn’t be your first choice. The earlier you can book an editor, the better.
Of course, this never works for me, because I’m just not good at figuring out how long it will take me to get my book to the point where I need an editor. I’m hoping I’ll get better at this with more books/editing experiences under my belt. This often means I’m having to choose between working with the editor I want and getting my book out in the timeframe I want.
5. Ask the editor if they will do a sample edit
I cannot stress this enough! Before you hire an editor, they should be prepared to edit a sample of your actual novel for you. Actually, you should ask three or four editors for a sample edit before you make a choice.
This will give you an idea of what sort of things they will be looking at, how many issues they pick up, and whether their style meshes with yours.
6. Be aware that it will hurt
Editing is tough. You don’t want an editor who will sugarcoat the changes you need to make, and no matter how good you think you are, an editor will find things you need to change! Every time I get an edit back, even a simple one, it hurts. I have to take a couple of days to go over the changes and think about them before I’m ready to make a decision. Don’t rush it. Let the hurt pass, and don’t pick the editor who makes you feel good, pick the one who will make your book the best it can be!
Culled from Rinelle Grey