Let’s say you’re about to finish writing a novel that you’ve been working on for the better half of eight months. Or perhaps you took part in the National Novel Writing Month challenge in November. Needless to say, you’re ready to move to the next step: you’re looking for an editor. You’ve heard that it’s important to have someone with a trained eye review your manuscript, making sure all the while to dot every “i” and cross every “t.” But with so many editors out there, finding the right one for your project can be a challenging, time-consuming, and—at times—costly process. Knowledge of the publishing industry certainly helps when trying to make a decision, particularly where publishing standards and best practices are concerned. But not every person who is publishing books today has access to that type of information. While there are certainly articles on the internet that can steer you in the right direction, many authors may benefit from enabling industry experts to assist them in their search.
At times the author-editor relationship can be antagonistic. When an author feels that his or her talents are somehow receiving rough treatment from an editor, he or she may be tempted to get upset, perhaps even fight to maintain certain aspects of his or her writing. But the most agreeable relationships with editors involve healthy connections that enable authors to understand how to look at his or her own work more objectively. In that type of relationship, projects can benefit from the union of creativity and structure, which can present the best experience for readers.
Many authors and independent publishers post jobs on freelancer websites like Upwork, hoping to find the right person within the right price range. Others will post to higher-end marketplaces, like member associations, that can promise top-notch candidates who expect to be compensated equitably. But the new reality of the freelancer marketplace has created new concerns for the consumer. He or she must be able to understand how to pick the right candidate. Earlier I mentioned how great author-editor relationships enable the author to understand how to see his or her work more objectively. In order to make a good editor decision, objectivity is important.
There are a few things you can do, of course, to ensure that you find the best possible editor for your project.
1. It’s okay to post jobs on freelancer websites and job forums. Just make sure you understand as much as you can about the candidates before offering to hire. Oftentimes freelancer sites with social interaction widgets can give you great feedback from other clients. Use those to your advantage. Also, most freelancer sites have profiles, oftentimes with samples of previous work, work history, and levels of expertise in various subjects.
2. To get the best possible candidates, I recommend posting jobs on sites that represent members who are professional editors. One of the most popular in the United States is the Editorial Freelancers’ Association. You can post a job for partial and full-length projects, and you are guaranteed to get responses from top industry editors. Expect to pay the going rate for services if you want to post there.
3. Ask prospective candidates what types of titles they have worked on by telling them to supply a titles list in their application. If you mention the genre of your book in the job post, you could say, “Please include a list of titles you have worked on that are similar to my genre.” This is handy for nonfiction and fiction genres alike.
4. A great way to get a feel for the perfect editor match is by asking a prospective candidate to submit a sample edit. It could be from your own book. The test should be no more than six or eight pages. Pay close attention to how your candidates respond to spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors, as well as any constructive comments they provide.
5. Lastly, the more specific you are in your job announcement, the greater your chances of attracting the right type of editor for your work. Refrain from one-liner posts, unless there is an issue with space (i.e., Twitter). At the very least, your announcement should include:
a. The working title of the manuscript
b. Genre, length (number of words), number of chapters
c. A brief description of the work
d. Your intention once it’s been edited (seek agent, self-publish, book contest, etc.)
But sometimes even this is not enough. The notion of an author finding an editor seems a bit like a cat finding a dog. A cat wouldn’t be bothered with a dog if it didn’t have to be; the same can be said about authors and editors. Again, maintaining some objectivity enables you to make better choices. But, then again, how do you know that you are making the right choice for you? Even if an editor is confident in the number and type of projects he or she has worked on, that editor may not be the best fit for you. What is the standard rate for an editor’s services, and how can you know that you are getting a good deal? How long should an editing project take, and what level of editing do you really need? These questions are important ones to answer, and experience can help you make heads or tails of everything with greater results.
For a limited time, Lampas Books is offering to assist authors in finding the right editor match. Click the link below, and tell us about your project and where you are looking for an editor. Then we’ll review your candidates and help you pick the right editor. We lend to you our nearly twenty years’ experience working in the publishing industry (with editors, proofreaders, literary agents, and other publishing professionals) and help steer you in the direction that will lead to the most rewarding relationship.