I hope you haven’t been holding your breath for a week waiting for the second part of Kristen’s post on finding the perfect editor for your book. Waiting with bated breath is good. Holding your breath for a week? Not so much.
Now here’s Kristen with the rest of the questions that will help you in your editor search.
Go for it Kristen:
Last week I shared four of seven questions every author must ask to find the perfect editor for your manuscript. The first four questions are easy, focusing on narrowing your search to editors who offer the type of editing you need, who specialize in your genre, who have experience, and who have a portfolio and testimonials for you to look over.
Now, we’re getting into the serious stuff. By the end of this, you’ll have found the editor that’s right for you.
5. What is the editor’s attitude?
Real talk: There are too many editors to settle for one that doesn’t contribute to a healthy author-editor relationship. When you make first contact with an editor, pay attention to how they communicate.
- Do they have time to talk to you on the phone about your project?
- Is conversation with them easy, and do you see eye-to-eye with your plans for the book?
- When you ask about their experience, are they open and communicative?
- Do they seem excited about your project?
The author-editor relationship is famously collaborative, meaning if you don’t feel your editor is onboard 100%, move on to the next option. Your manuscript is understandably an important project—and usually a major part of your life. It deserves the respect of an engaged, enthusiastic editor.
6. Does the editor offer sample edits?
As you narrow your search for an editor, you may find several editors that may be a good fit for your project. Getting a sample edit is often the only way to know for sure which editor is right for you. Most editors will be happy to do a sample edit of 500-1000 words on your manuscript—just ask! Once you get the sample edit back, ask yourself:
- Did the editor’s sample edit make a difference in your novel’s excerpt?
- Do you feel that the edited material reads better than the original?
- Pay attention to the editor’s stylistic choices, such as using em dashes (—), semicolons (;), and italics. Do you like their style? Do you feel like it’s right for your book?
The best editor will be able to match your writing style, so all editing changes will be seamless to your original writing. The final result will be a beautifully polished book, highlighting your skills as an author.
7. What about contracts and pricing?
Before making the final decision, pay attention to two more important elements: if the editor offers a contract or written agreement, and if the price is reasonable.
As a book editor, I require a contract with every project, which provides the details of any editing project in writing, including the payments, editing services provided, and a confidentiality agreement. At the very least, protect yourself and ask the editor to provide a written agreement prior to you submitting payment or your manuscript.
Finally, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to selecting a book editor. The Editorial Freelancer’s Association’s Editorial Rates Chart is the gold standard for how much editing should cost, so make sure your editor falls in the ballpark. Generally, more experienced editors will charge more, while less experienced editors will charge less. You get what you pay for.
BONUS: Editing company or freelance editor?
Your search may turn up freelance editors, or editing companies—big difference between the two. Editing companies can have five or more editors on staff, several of whom will be working on your manuscript. Although multiple eyes on a document can be a good thing, conflicting editing styles and an inability to communicate freely with your editor may turn some authors off.
Generally, freelance editors own their own companies, take on fewer projects, and are the sole editor of your manuscript, meaning you’ll be working with one person (the editor) throughout the entire process. You’ll get to speak directly with the editor you’re working with and form a personal connection with her. That personal connection I make with the author is why I will always be a freelancer. Maybe I’m just biased. 😉
When you hire an editor, you’re paying them thousands of dollars and giving them the power to improve or destroy your work. Choose wisely!
Book manuscript editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of Kristen Corrects, Inc. , which provides manuscript editing services. Working independently allows Kristen the opportunity to interact with clients and provide them personalized service. There is nothing better than communication and friendliness in a business world that is slowly becoming less focused on people.
Kristen is included in the 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing and the 2015 Guide to Self-Publishing, both published by the prestigious Writer’s Digest. She is also part of the credible Writer’s Market, Publishers Marketplace, and Editorial Freelancers Association and plays a pivotal role as senior editor at Modern Gladiator magazine.
Reading is Kristen’s passion, so when the workday is over, she can usually be found curled up with a good book (alongside her three cats, Sophie, Charlie, and Jack). She loves pizza, cat videos, watching The Bachelor, and traveling, and is likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, Idaho.
What are your personal experiences in working with editors? What advice can you offer readers?