In the last article, we looked at how to self-edit your novel. But once you’ve finished editing your manuscript, the next question is naturally, “How do I find an editor?” You don’t want to hand your manuscript over to just anyone. You want someone you can trust. Someone who will improve your book’s structure, writing, grammar, punctuation, etc., without changing your story and your voice.
Finding the right editor can be a process. And once you do find one who sounds promising, there’s still the unknown of the editor’s quality of work and how well you two will work together.
While there is no one-size-fits-all for finding the right editor, below I share where to look for an editor and what qualities to make sure an editor has before working with him or her.
Where to Look for an Editor
1. Ask Friends for Recommendations
Word of mouth goes a long way in any business. You’ve no doubt used this yourself. Would you rather try a new restaurant because they promise the best steak or because your friends are raving about how great the steak tasted? It’s natural to try something at the recommendation of a friend.
The same holds true for editing. Finding an editor can be daunting, but if your friend had a great experience with an editor, you’d be more comfortable using that editor yourself.
And if you don’t have any local friends to ask, you can always turn to social media. My personal favorite for recommendations on anything writing is Facebook groups. Here are some of my favorite for you to get involved in:
2. Google Search
This one is probably a given. A simple Google search will pull up editor’s websites, Facebook pages, and blogs that include long lists of editors. This isn’t a bad search option though. It will take time weeding through all the search results, but this is how a lot of people find their editors.
3. Freelance Websites
Websites that host freelancers’ services are becoming more and more common among writers and business owners. These freelance websites offer a wide variety of services often at affordable prices.
This could be a good option for you if you’re looking for a quick turnaround. Many editors can take weeks or months to edit manuscripts, but most freelancers can offer the same service in a fraction of the time.
They can also be more affordable. That could be because they are trying to establish a portfolio of work or because it’s something they can do on the side. Cheaper isn’t always better, but there are many qualified editors available at a reasonable price on freelance websites. Here are some popular freelance websites:
After narrowing down potential editors to a select few, you have to decide which one will be the best fit for you and your book. To make that process easier, I’ve include below four things you should learn about an editor before working with him or her.
What to Look for in an Editor
1. Good Communication
Once you find an editor you’re interested in, contact him or her. Reach out and introduce yourself. Share what genre your novel is, how many words it is, and what type of editing you’re looking for. If you have any questions, include those as well.
When and how an editor responds can tell you a lot about the type of service you can expect. If the editor takes a long time to respond, you might get the same slow editing services. If the editor’s answers to your questions are riddled with grammar and spelling errors, you might not want to entrust your book to that editor. Granted, no editor is perfect, but you will be able to tell from your communication if this is someone you could work with.
Editing can be an ongoing process and require lots of back and forth communicating. Make sure you can easily and happily discuss things with the editor you choose.
While a bachelor’s or master’s in English isn’t required to be an editor, the person you choose should have some amount of education in the field of grammar or editing. Even being an author doesn’t ensure that the person would be a great editor (though those people do exist). Whoever you choose will be making decisions about the way you write and the grammar you use, so it’s wise to look for someone with a degree, certificate, or some other special education in writing, editing, grammar, or a combination of those subjects.
Just as important as education is experience. Someone with little to no experience will still be trying to figure out all the nuisances of being an editor, and they are more likely to miss something or change something that doesn’t need to be changed than someone who has been in the business for a few years. If you hire a new editor, just know that you shouldn’t have to pay top dollar for their services.
If you’re looking for developmental editing (which focuses on helping you better craft the plot, structure, and characters), you will want to find an editor who specifically has experience in your genre. You don’t want a romance editor telling you how to better shape the plot of your paranormal novel.
If you’re looking for copy editing (which focuses on spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.), experience in your genre is not a requirement. Correct spelling and grammar is the same across all genres.
When an editor’s experience or education isn’t clear online, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s important to have all your questions answered before investing in an editor.
4. Types of Services
The types of editing services (developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, etc.) and the defections of those services usually vary from editor to editor, especially today when the traditional editors in publishing houses aren’t required to publish a book.
When you contact an editor and choose a service, make sure you are perfectly clear on what that service includes. You might need what one editor calls a copy edit and what a different editor calls a proofread. If you’re not sure what editing service you need, tell the editor what you’re looking for (e.g., editing plot structure or editing your word choice), and let the editor tell you which of their services that matches up with.
Some editors will even let you send them a sample of your manuscript. This can help the editor steer you toward your different editing options, and some editors won’t give you a price until they’ve reviewed your writing.
And if an editor offers a free editing sample, send in a sample of your work for him or her to edit. This is the best test for determining if an editor will provide the type of work you’re looking for.
And there you have it! Hopefully, this helps you see that finding an editor is absolutely something you can do. It will probably take some time and research and contacting multiple editors, but getting your best version of your book in front of readers will make it all worth it.
Do you have any signs of a good editor that you could add to this list? Share below to help others in their search. And complete the action steps above to get started on finding an editor that's right for you and your book.
Keep writing and editing!