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While we’re on the topic of editing and refining, hiring a professional is always an option. Today we’d like to offer some practical advice on questions to ask yourself and characteristics to look for when choosing a professional editor. Today’s post comes to us from Elizabeth Rains. Elizabeth is a journalism graduate with editing experience, and she is available for freelance editing work. If you would like to contact Elizabeth about contracting her services please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choosing an Editor
Your book is finished. Or, maybe it’s just an idea on a scrap of paper. Either way, you know you want to work with an editor before sending your manuscript to the presses. So, what do you need to know?
What services are available?
Basic editing might range from fixing grammar and spelling mistakes to fact checking. More in-depth editing might also include assistance with character or plot development, or reorganizing your chapters to improve the flow. Different editors offer different services, so make sure they offer what you need.
Do you want to have an editor with you through the entire process, or after you’ve finished the first draft?
Working together from the beginning provides the opportunity for more in-depth understanding of your work. Plot holes, factual errors and other issues can be addressed immediately.
Working with an editor after you’ve finished might mean that you have a more objective eye, since the editor hasn’t been in the trenches with you since day one—but it might also mean major overhauls of certain sections, which can create domino effects on following plot points or organization.
How do you know which editor is the best fit for you?
Chat with a few before making a final decision and check out their online profiles or websites. Get a feel for their personalities so you can narrow down your choice, because you’ll be working with your editor for a while. A good working relationship is crucial. Discuss how you will communicate, how much time you can commit, experience and passion.
- Communication and Time
Do you prefer video chatting or discussing your manuscript over a cup of coffee? Your preferred method will dictate your choices.
Regardless, make sure you can devote time to communicating with your editor—things don’t always translate well via email or comments in a Microsoft Word or Google Doc file, and you need to be on the same page. Ask how frequently your potential editor likes to connect and discuss.
- Experience and Passion
In particular, if your niche has its own culture, you might want to find an editor with experience in that area. That way, you can avoid—or at least reduce—learning curves. On the other hand, maybe you just want someone with general editing skills, so work experience might precede knowledge about vampires versus werewolves.
However, don’t count out editors who don’t have years of experience with your niche. I am currently editing a novel about naval combat. A few weeks ago, I could not have told you what “GQ” (General Quarters) meant or what a wardroom was (it’s a dining room for a ship’s officers). Now, I can! If someone lacks a wealth of experience but is otherwise qualified, ask if he or she is willing to learn.