10 Things to Look For When Hiring a Book Editor

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So you’ve finished the first draft of your manuscript. Congratulations! That’s no small feat. However, not even the most talented, most prolific authors can churn out a perfect manuscript in one try. The next thing you need is a fresh pair of expert eyes to offer suggestions, revisions, and new perspectives to make your story more captivating and marketable. You don’t want just anyone to revise your precious manuscript, though. You want only the best book editors in the industry.

Finding a skilled editor for your book can be quite a challenge, which is why we’ve gathered some useful tips to help you along.

1. Price

Editors don’t come cheap, so you have to be willing to part with your money when you hire a seasoned professional to polish your novel. Editors all have their own prices, so the costs can vary widely, and they depend on the type of edit you’re seeking and the turnaround time you’re looking for. Most book editors charge by the word, but some charge by the hour, and in such an arrangement, you should clarify the payment parameters in a contract before beginning the work.

2. Turnaround

You have your schedule, and editors have theirs. Before you dive into a contract, make sure your schedules match. Each book editor has a different speed, so if your deadline is too urgent for a slow editor, you’ll need to find a faster one. You also have to consider that the turnaround will depend on the length of the manuscript and any special requests you might have. Don’t forget that you’ll need time to review the changes, as well.

3. Editing format

There are two types of book editors: the old-school ones who edit with pen and paper, and the modern ones who use MS Word’s Track Changes feature. Figure out which format works best for you before you hire an editor. If you decide to go old school, make sure to familiarize yourself with editing markup.

4. Editing style

No two book editors are the same. They all have their own editing styles, and you should choose an editor whose style aligns well with your needs. Do you prefer light, conservative editing or heavy, deep editing? Do you want an editor who offers gentle criticism or an editor who isn’t afraid to be harsh if it means improving the manuscript? Think carefully about the level of criticism you’re comfortable handling.

5. Specialties

Book editors have their own specialties. A business nonfiction editor won’t be able to help you develop the characters in your fantasy novel, and an editor of philosophical books may not be able to gauge the correct level of vocabulary for a children’s book. Determine your genre, and look for an editor well versed in editing that type of book.

6. Experience and training

Anyone can call themselves an editor, but that doesn’t mean they truly are one. Some people think simply being well read qualifies them for book editing, but your manuscript deserves someone with actual training who actually understands the ins and outs of the publishing market and the subtleties of the English language. Make sure your editor’s training is accompanied by experience, too. You don’t want to be anyone’s first edit. Ask the book editor which publishing houses they’ve worked for or what other books they’ve edited.

7. Style guides

As the author, you don’t have to worry too much about strictly following a style guide when writing your manuscript. However, once your book enters the editing stage, your editor will need to format it according to a consistent style. Make sure they’re fluent in the style you’re using. For nonacademic books, this will typically be the Chicago Manual of Style.

Also, in a given piece of work, there are likely to be unique stylistic choices. In these cases, it’s best to find an editor who will provide a stylesheet so you can stay consistent with this style when writing sequels or follow-ups to your book.

8. Editing service

You probably can’t get away with just one round of editing. Book editors offer different services, so be aware of which stage of editing your manuscript is ready for and which services the editor you want to hire offers. Typically, you should look for developmental editing first, then line or copy editing, and finally proofreading. Of course, this can vary depending on your manuscript and how the first round of editing goes.

9. Openness to questions

Don’t think all your work is done as soon as you find an editor for your book. The process of reviewing and implementing the editor’s changes and suggestions is often a longer and more demanding procedure than authors think. It’s entirely possible you’ll have some questions about the editor’s recommendations, and in this case, it’s ideal to have an editor who’s available for discussion. Clarify beforehand whether your book editor will be available for such communication and, if so, via what medium.

10. Availability for future editing

If you find a book editor you like, chances are you’ll want to stick with them and have them edit other documents related to the manuscript, such as press releases or other promotional materials. If that’s important to you, make sure to ask whether your editor is open to smaller projects, as well.

Finding the right book editor may seem daunting, but editing is a necessary part of the publishing process, and your manuscript will be better for it. A good edit is worth the investment, so take the time to do your research and find the best possible editor you can for your book. If you’re having trouble finding the best book editors around, try ProofreadingServices.com, whose expert editors boast years of experience and know exactly how to make a manuscript shine.

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