“Do I need an editor?” This is perhaps the most common question in the world of publishing. The answer is a resounding YES!
Would you ever go to court without legal representation? I would hope not. Even a lawyer will hire someone to represent them. Don’t be that crazy person who thinks he’s the smartest person in the courtroom, and represents himself. No matter how good of an editor you think you are, you need to hire a professional. Believe me when I tell you – your readers will know if you don’t.
Once you’ve finished writing your book, the next step on the road to publication is hiring an editor. For a lot of authors, especially newbies, this can be an overwhelming part of the process; but it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is vet your editor.
Vetting an editor is basically the same thing as choosing your next car or deciding which school your children should attend. You need to do your homework.
Follow these eight easy steps to find the perfect editor for you:
1) Website: Does their website look professional? How many years have they been in business? Do they clearly outline their editing/proofreading process?
2) Testimonials: Read through the testimonials (if provided). Do they seem genuine or do they sound like they come from one voice (person)? If they all have the same style, they may be fake testimonials.
3) References: Always ask for references. If you were thinking of purchasing a certain type of vehicle, wouldn’t you ask friends who drive that make and model what they think? Likewise, ask the editorial company to provide you with references. Then, make sure you contact them. Let the references know that anything they tell you will be held in the strictest confidence.
4) Quotes: Get quotes from several editors and editorial services. This will give you a feel for the going rate.
5) Sample Edits: Make sure you read some of their sample edits – preferably something they did for a client, and not the example they have on their website. After you narrow it down to a couple of editors send them your manuscript and have them edit 2-5 pages. This will give you an idea of their style, along with the cost and turnaround time.
6) Compare: Don’t just compare price and/or turnaround time for your book. Look at what you get. Some questions to ask yourself: Is a consultation call with your editor included? Will you even know who your editor is? (Some large editing service won’t even tell you the editor’s full name.) Will they edit just grammar or content, or both? Do they offer referral awards if you send a fellow writer to them?
7) Clients: Inquire about previous projects the company or editor has worked on. Have they worked on any best sellers or books written by celebrities? Not everybody is destined to be a best seller or rich and famous but, generally, it’s a good sign if they have some prestigious clients.
8) Credentials: Always get the credentials of the editor(s). Were they an English high school teacher or a copy editor? Also, always ask how many years they have been editing.
After you’ve finished the vetting process, and have decided on which editor or editorial service to go with, make sure to get a contract that includes the type of editing that will be done (content, developmental, etc.), turnaround time, cost, and payment schedule.
These eight steps may seem like homework but it will be well worth it when your book is polished, published, and receiving 5-star reviews.
Feel free to reach out to us – Jacobs Writing Consultants for a sample edit and quote. We look forward to reading your story.
T.M. Jacobs, a native to the shoreline area of Connecticut, now resides in various locations along the east coast with his fiancé traveling and working from their RV motorhome. He has published nine books, over 400 articles published in various newspapers and magazines, teaches classes on writing and publishing, and currently is the owner of Jacobs Writing Consultants. He is the founder and former editor for Patriots of the American Revolution magazine and has been a freelance writer for over 30 years. His book, The 1864 Diary of Civil War Union Soldier Sergeant Samuel E. Grosvenor: A first-hand account of the horrors at Andersonville Prison is a biography of Grosvenor who kept a small diary while in the Andersonville Prison. This title was featured on C-SPAN2 TV.
You can contact him at the following links:
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EXCELLENT article, T.M! I wish everyone who’s seeking an editor would memorize it; it shows how to separate the wheat from the chaff in just a few east steps.
As one of Angie’s recommended editors, I frequently educate people on this topic, too. You’ve done an outstanding job here!