8 Tips for Hiring a Professional Editor

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So you have your manuscript all written up—congrats! That’s the first step to becoming a bestselling author. Unfortunately, there are many additional steps, and it’s not an easy path. Your manuscript isn’t quite ready for publication yet. You need the careful, expert eye of an experienced professional editor.

Professional editors do more than simply fix typos and clear up grammar mistakes. They eliminate ambiguity, alert you to plot shortcomings, and tighten up your prose, among other things. They offer a professional outsider’s perspective on your story to help mold it into the next must-read, so if your manuscript is ready, it’s time to send it off to a seasoned professional editor.

Looking for the ideal editor is intimidating, but you want to make sure you’re hiring the best professional editor possible. We’ve compiled some tips to aid you in your quest.

1. Have your manuscript all ready.

Before sending off your first draft to a professional editor, you should first have it edited by a nonprofessional editor: you. Not even professional editors can effectively self-edit, as your own perspective and inherent understanding of what you meant to say can block you from picking out even blatant errors. However, that’s not to say you can’t polish your manuscript up a bit yourself. Try to cut it down to the accepted word count in your genre, eliminate any blatant structure and plot issues, and run a quick spell check before getting a second opinion.

2. Know what type of editing you need.

Editing comes in many different forms, from developmental editing, to line editing, to copyediting, to proofreading. Different professional editors specialize in different areas of editing, so make sure you hire one who specializes in the type you need. Do your research beforehand to learn more about each type, and reflect on your manuscript to determine what help it requires.

3. Start your search long in advance.

Finding the right professional editor for your manuscript isn’t a simple process. It takes time to scout out the ideal candidate, and then you have to take their schedule into account. If an editor is available immediately, it likely means no one else has booked them, which is not a good sign. A good professional editor typically has a number of projects lined up, meaning they may not even be able to start on your manuscript for several months. Take your own timeline into account and plan accordingly.

4. Pay for high-quality editing.

A professional editor’s services shouldn’t break the bank, but they shouldn’t be too cheap, either. Editors are professionals, and like any other professionals, they need to earn a living. If the editor’s rates are too low to live on, they are likely doing editing on the side. If you want a full-time professional, you’ll need to go with higher rates. Similarly, if you choose an editor with the lowest livable rate, they may not be so skilled. In short, you get what you pay for.

5. Find an editor who understands your voice.

Everyone has a unique style of writing. Even though you’re having a professional editor polish your work, your unique voice needs to remain intact, because it’s your book, after all. Professional editors are experts at adapting their editing style to the material, but some simply can’t work effectively with particular voices. Before you jump into an editing contract, get a sample edit from the prospective editor to make sure they “get” your writing and can deliver the results you want.

6. Communicate what you want.

No two professional editors are the same. They’re people too, and they all have their own editing styles. Some authors and editors simply don’t work well together, regardless of skill, so communicate with your editor to make sure you two are a good fit. Explain your goals for the book and what you hope to achieve through the editorial process. Specify the depth of editing you prefer. Do you want the editor to change only outright mistakes, or would you prefer suggestions for deeper structural changes? Do you prefer gentle feedback, or can you handle constructive criticism? Lay out clearly how you want the professional editor to proceed with the job.

7. Trust your editor.

Once you’ve found a professional editor you like, trust in their skills and expertise. Having your precious manuscript edited can be painful, as the process will expose all its shortcomings and may force you to cut parts you worked hard on. But everything a professional editor suggests is for the greater good of the book. Take a rational approach to revising and bear in mind that the editor is simply trying to help you produce a better book.

8. Review the edit promptly.

Once you receive your edited manuscript, which will likely be in the form of a Word document filled with Track Changes, don’t waste any time jumping into revisions. You may not agree with all the changes, and you may not understand the rationale behind the suggestions, so having questions is natural. But be respectful of the editor’s time when responding to their changes, and don’t wait too long to do so, as your editor will likely have started on new projects and may not be able to recall the details of your manuscript as more time passes.

After all the time and effort you’ve poured into composing your manuscript, the least you can do is invest in a highly skilled professional editor. You owe it to your book to secure the ultimate in editorial talent, which will get you that much closer to the bestseller list. Looking for a professional editor may be daunting, but with our tips, you should be successful.

If your manuscript is ready, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with a superb professional editor now.

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