If you’ve made it to the stage in your book-writing process where you’re ready to look for an editor, congratulations! You’ve accomplished something pretty darn cool.
Now, on to finding the right person for the job.
Maybe this is your first time looking for an editor. Maybe you were dissatisfied with previous editors. Or, maybe your go-to guy or gal is unavailable for your project. Either way, you’re up against a pretty daunting challenge. After all, editors are pricey, and you don’t want to drop a big chunk of change on someone who will be a poor fit for your project.
Of course, you want someone who fits your budget and works with your timeline. But here are four other tips that will help you choose the right professional from an endless sea of options.
1) Don’t assume that pricier means better. Indie editors can essentially charge whatever they want, and some of them charge exorbitant prices. Unfortunately, these prices are not always justified by the results. Don’t blow your budget, or decide editing is too pricey for you, based on a single high quote. Be diligent and shop around. There really are affordable, high-quality options out there.
2) Don’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. Sometimes you do get what you pay for. Choosing the lowest-cost option by default can be tempting if you’re on a shoestring budget. But poor editing is only marginally better than no editing. Don’t throw your money away. Save up and expand your budget. Or, be very diligent and patient, and seek out a very affordable quality editor. They are out there.
3) Get samples. Quality is (almost) everything. Once you’ve reached out to editors and received a few quotes that are within your budget, ask each prospective candidate for an editing sample (usually a mutually agreed-upon number of pages from your book). Most editors will be more than happy to provide samples. If an editor won’t provide one, consider it a red flag. Carefully evaluate every sample to see whether/how each editor has improved your work, and whether you agree with their changes.
4) Look for someone who fits. A great editor may not be great for you. Some writers prefer grammar sticklers, while others want someone more relaxed and flexible. Some writers prefer tough love, while others want a gentler, more collaborative approach. Some writers want a quick, business-like experience, while others want to build a relationship or mentorship. Finding an editor who understands what you need and how you work is almost as important as finding a quality editor who will work with your budget.