Last week, you read my tips for deciding what kind of editor you need.
Now that you know what kind of editor you are looking for, here are some details you’ll need to know before hiring him or her, regardless of whether it’s a copy editor or a developmental editor.
Are they willing to provide you with a sample edit?
Most editors will happily offer a sample edit of a certain length. This is the best way to ensure you will like their style. Do they use Word, Pages, Scrivener? The sample edit will help you determine if their process works for you. And you will learn a lot about their communication style. When you are hashing out nuances in your novel, you’ll find it very helpful that you and your editor can communicate effectively. Which brings us to our second point.
Do your communication styles match?
This is important, because if you can’t communicate, your editing situation will be a nightmare. Before you sign a contract with a freelancer, ask them questions. Understand what their rates are, their turnaround time, their invoicing procedures. Do they communicate exclusively via email or are they willing to Skype with you? If you need a face to face in order to communicate and they will only communicate through Twitter, you might be up for a challenge. Ask the questions. If they are professionals, they will be used to answering them. (Of course, check their website first, because they may have already spelled it out.)
Is your editor a professional?
Let me tell you what I mean by that. Sometimes writers live in fear of the mighty editor. That’s not necessary. An editor can give you feedback—honest, good, feedback—without being condescending or patronizing. In the end, you’ll feel much better about the notes he or she provides if you don’t want to scratch out their eyes when you are done reading their critique. On the flip side, you don’t want someone who is just going to tell you nice things and make you feel all fuzzy inside. That doesn’t do you any good. You want honest feedback from someone who doesn’t get a thrill from being nasty. In addition to acting like a professional, check their website for quality. If there are typos in every sentence, you probably would’t consider using them to do a final proofread on your book.
One of my favorite editors of all time, Brenda Errichiello at Forest North Books, has this fabulous advice for you when deciding on an editor. Go with your gut! She says, “If something feels weird or off–it probably is. On both sides. Editors want to work with people they like and peoples’ work who they can be invested in!”
Where are these magical creatures hiding?
Check with your writer peers for recommendations. Word of mouth is very powerful in this business so follow the advice of those who have gone before. But keep in mind that an editor that worked with Suzy Sassafrass really well, might not work well for you because we all have different writing and communication styles. So once you get a recommendation, do all the things listed above. Keep in mind Bibliocrunch has a marketplace specifically created to connect writers with the industry professionals they need to get their book to press. Check out their members only site for more details and start searching for an editor (or even a cover designer) today!
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