So your book is so close to being finished, or finished already – sealed with the last two magic words: “The end!” It is now time you pat yourself on the back, rest, and let the fun begin: celebrating this grand achievement with some mashed potatoes, bubble bath, chocolates, or Groupon massages.
Wait! Not so soon. I know the feeling we writers get when done penning a manuscript. It is so cathartic to our well being. However, finishing your draft is just one of the many roadblocks you have to overcome in self-publishing. It merely means one road has come to an end, and others lies ahead. In other words: editing the draft, promoting the book, and also amassing a fanbase.
If you refer to the title of this post, you already know it aims to lead you through finding a book editor; but if you are looking at self-editing, here is an article to inspire you all the way.
Let’s take off.
What is A Book Editor?
Ideally, a book editor can be an individual or a book editing firm whose practice involves refining a piece or pieces of written work. Most book editors have some level of higher schooling: holding a major in English or journalism; required to be objective in their work, ruthless, and have some insights into the craftsmanship of a story.
Two critical questions most authors asking when seeking a professional book editor, are:
1. Is Getting A Book Editor Right for My Book?
The honest answer is: it all depends!
Why do I say so?
As an author, you know the first line of defense in self-publishing is self-editing; however, your book would be better with another pair of eyes to critique. It is always the ideal option.
An independent editor can be the difference between publishing an average book and a bestseller.
On the other hand, if you are a professional editor, or have been trained to edit, then you might get away with publishing a book without seeking editorial services.
2. What About Beta Readers, And Can They Replace A Professional Editor?
Anyone can be a beta reader: friends, family member, or anyone in an online writing group or critique cycle. Unlike professional editors who can cut to the chase, beta readers provide feedback similar to that of an occasional reader.
They too can serve as editors for your book. You can let them provide suggestions on your manuscript, straighten out the issues they find before you drop your draft to the editor.
Here are the places you can find beta readers for your book:
Four Things Editors Can Bring To Your Book
Working with a professional book editor is the standard rule in self-publishing. Nothing matches the experience an expert can bring to your story, especially these days where readers have become so judgemental, critical, and unsupportive.
Here is what your book stands to gain from an experienced editor irrespective of the role.
1. Polish Style
Here, editors will review your writing for word choice. They will examine your book for uniformity of context and vocabulary to ensure no cliches. They will look at whether you are using enough expressions and what response they evoke on a reader.
2. Cut The Excess Fat
Sometimes when we write, we find ourselves with redundant, lengthy, and clumsy sentences. Editors will help cut these missing words to make the syntax and context clean for the reader to understand.
3. Identify Plot Holes
Here, editors examine for the theme and character consistency: knowing where the author is coming from and guiding them to their destination.
4. Mood And Tone of Your Book
The mood and tone throughout your book should be consistent and effective from scene-to-scene.
A professional editor can help determine if the mood is working with the scene, its placement in the book, and if you should go for something else in that moment to pull readers along.
This is really important for getting readers emotionally invested in your story.
Ready to Hire A Book Editor
OK. So you have already done the heavy lifting, poured your heart and soul into your manuscript, and understood the benefits your book stand to gain from an edit. You may also have self-edited, probably made all the necessary corrections friends and family members suggested. Now you are thinking it is time to tighten those loose ends in your story by sourcing out the services of an experienced editor.
Before you do that…
Here are The Reasons to Outsource for A Book Editor
- You need an extra pair of eyes with good judgment to identify any errors that passed by your notice.
- You are too busy: If you are an editor/author, such that you have not time to edit.
- You have a budget: There are a lot of factors that go into getting a quote for editorial services. We have got things like genre, editor’s experience, and the shape of your book as factors that will affect the overall cost of editing a manuscript.
- You are terrible at self-editing.
If you answered yes to all these reasons, then finding a professional book editor will surely make sense to your book.
Now the easy part.
Who Can Edit Your Book? Freelancers or Book Editing Agencies
Hiring editing agencies seems to be the most viable option for most authors looking to outsource for book editing. It is the standard norm in self-publishing.
These firms comprise a group of professional editors fighting for the same goal or experienced authors with a registered business to see authors or writers beyond the editing process. Their editorial process is rigorous and may go through three methods: a developmental edit, copy edit, and proofread – your choice!
However, you could also delegate the work to freelancers, who are standalone professional editors with unimaginable options at their disposal: not limited by the knowledge of in-house editors.
Here are the places one can find a professional book editor, whether freelance or an agency.
- ACES: The Society for Editing.
- Authors publish.
- Society for editors and proofreaders (Sfep).
- Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).
As aforementioned, hiring agencies may seem like the best option. However, it can be difficult and expensive, especially on the time factor. If you are low on resources and want the work done quickly, start by hiring freelance editors.
Here is why:
- First, it is cheap.
- You can decide to hire and let go when you want.
- You can opt to pay a fixed rate regardless of the length of your draft.
On the other side:
- Freelancers may work for multiple authors at the same time or even an agency, hence may not be involved in the work as much.
- Freelance editors can be unreliable.
How to Hire a Professional Book Editor in Three Steps
#1 Decide on the type of book editor you want.
#2 Reach out through job ads or in the mail.
#1 – Decide on The Book Editor You Want
Editors like all of us come with different talents or skill set. There is a development editor, a copy editor, proofreaders, and content editors.
So, the first step to hiring a professional book editor is to be clear on the editor you want to polish your book.
In this stage, avoid using human instinct, so as not to pick an editor who may not meet your book editing demands.
With that information in mind, there are metrics you need to check in this decision-making process:
1. Vendor/type of Services
Find what other services the firm or book editor provides. If it is a traditional book publishing or editing firm, find if they can help publish your book and possibly market it on your behalf. Such “after-sale” services may relieve you the extra marketing/publishing cost of your book.
Which books have they edited? What relevant experience and knowledge do they have with editing? What is their level of education? Do they work with companies or individual? And in what capacity and what sector? How about their reputation, reviews, and portfolio? Ask the editor if they have any training or certification and how long they’ve been editing. These are just but the few questions to ask before settling on who will polish your book.
No need paying a King’s ransom when shopping for a book editor as you have already spent enough on the writing process. Finding how much the cost of their service is can go along way in meeting your book’s financial obligations.
- Genre or your priorities.
- Editor experience level.
- State and length of the manuscript will also influence the cost
4. The Editing Your Book Needs
As an author, it is upon you to determine what type of editing your book needs. If you are new to editing or self-publishing, then you already know that your book will deserve more than a proofread.
5. Customer Experiences and Reviews
How quickly are other authors ready to recommend their services? What about customer reviews or references? Are there any worth compelling to enable you to go after their services?
The answers you will get from this decision-making process will affect the whole process of hiring a book editor, such as places to look for an editor. So you should try and get persuasive with every question or decision you make.
#2 – Reach Out in The Mail or Via Job Ads on Book Editing Sites
Having decided on the editor you want, you can do a job ad on job boards or writing groups and wait for the applications to roll.
To succeed at hiring an editor from job boards or on book editing platforms, give clear instructions regarding the editor you want to wade off ‘non-serious’ editors. Then vet them one after another.
Here is a sample job listing on Flexjobs for a client seeking a proofreader.
Do you notice how specific they are with the type of proofreader they want for their client?
Their goal is to find and only attract the relevant person for the job, by:
- Giving clear instructions on how one should apply.
- Asking insightful questions to determine their genuine interest in the niche or editorial experience.
- Giving the applicants a reason to apply by including the budget, packages, and basically what type of editing they will do.
Without that much clarity, you may end up with the wrong editor; hence, more work on your side.
If step one was not easy, fear not! There are other ways of finding a professional book editor.
Since you already know your industry, you can narrow down to self-publishing. Looking for a self-publishing site like Self-Publishing School and enter the word editor on the search bar. The report you will get will show you the names of editors who are hired on a freelance or full-time basis or have written content for the site.
Here at Self-Publishing school, our most relevant search for editor gave us Qat Wanders. You can now go further and search if Qat (or the editor) appears more frequent on similar sites, find their contacts then reach out through mail asking if they can take editing work within or outside their routine.
Also, you can find editors on social media, writing groups, or professional platforms like LinkedIn.
Eventually, once you have found an editor, you can ask knowledgeable editing questions such as:
- What tools and SW they use for editing or tracking changes.
- Companies or authors they have worked with in editing.
- Knowledge and book editing experience of your niche
- Level of education
- What value or addition they will bring to your book
Of course, this you do after going through their profiles.
You can also use your referral network to find a book editor. Referrals are great for seeking the right editor since you are relying on a trusted source and their experience working with that editor.
#3 – Test
So you have already chosen the editor to polish your book, it is now time to challenge them – early – by putting them on probation. The most important part for both parties at this stage is the ‘test draft.’
A ‘test draft’ will determine whether the editor is reliable, talented, or skilled, and whether he/she will make your book business go through the ceiling.
In the ‘test draft,’ decide the number of words or pages to edit and duration it would take for the editor to complete the work. Negotiate also on the pay rate, a discounted if possible.
Luckily, and in most cases, you will find that many editors are willing to edit the first chapter of your book for free.
If they do not satisfy you with their work, you can pay as agreed and say goodbye.
Found A Professional Book Editor?
If their services meet your standard and specification (the edits and comments they inserted in your book a good match for you) in the trial phase, it is a neat sign you have found a good editor. You can now see your book on book review sites. It is now time to bring the editor up-to-date with your plans.
The next step is to communicate your book goals and probably the challenges you experienced while writing the book or the other matters you need the editor to address in your book other than the usual editing.
At this stage, ensure you give the editor all the detail about your book as your relationship will depend on a successful onboarding experience.
Working Together With Your Editor
Once they have understood your book goals, it is time to establish a good working relationship with the editor.
Unfortunately, there is no one exact way of doing this. Each author will have to devise his/her way of maintaining an excellent relationship with an editor.
However, here are some ways we think may be of help if you are stuck.
- Showing them the author you are and your expectations.
- Your overall budget.
- The tools you will use for work and collaboration. Google docs, Slack, or Microsoft word tracking changes. Such tools make commenting, editing, and communication seamless for both parties.
- When you will want the editing work completed
- Keep them motivated by making their job easy. I know editors are always eyed-shaped, ruthless, and will surely fill your pages with red marks as they go through your book. Do not make their work unbearable. You never know, the relationship may develop into a potentially long-term one as you will need more of your books edited or learn how to be an editor yourself.
Other ways to keep them motivated include:
- Sharing your book news and your progress.
- Show performance metrics if you got any or provide ratings.
- Let them know of their importance to the success of your book. Editing is challenging, as Stephanie Rische puts it: “sometimes an editor’s job is to find the pulse of a manuscript and resuscitate it. Sometimes an editor’s job is to hold the author’s hand and coax her through the final chapter. Sometimes the editor’s job is to recognize a thing of beauty and then get out of the way.”
- Offer feedback on their work, reviews, and referrals.
These the ways you can succeed in hiring a professional book editor.
To learn more about editing/publishing or how to take your manuscript to a bestseller, check these sources to expand your knowledge base
- Self-Publishing Companies: What to Expect & If It’s Worth it.
- Book Editor: How to Work with an Editor For the Best Result.
- How to Publish a Book in 2019: A Step-by-Step Guide for First-Timers.
- Do You Need a Book Editor? Why Authors Have to Hire Editors.
Have you worked with a book editor before? How was the experience? We would love to hear them in the comments section below.