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Finding A Professional Editor (It Doesn't Have To Be Complicated)

Finishing a book is a huge accomplishment. Entering the editing stage can be exciting, but it can also come with some confusion. Should you self-edit? Hire an editor? Both? If you're an Indie author seeking to self-publish you may be on the cusp of many of these questions. To help you along, we at Writing It Wells are cultivating the answers to these questions and more. Check out our posts all month long in our Editing Series here.

Today's post is a much-requested topic from our Instagram poll: How to find a professional editor. Many writers have to undertake the task of finding their own professionals. While those of you lucky enough to publish traditionally have an editor assigned to you by your publisher, if you're doing this task on your own it can be a little daunting. There's a lot of confusion around what editors actually do and how to find one. It seems that most writers understand the need for one, but aren't sure where to start.

What are the steps you should take to find a professional?

That's an excellent question.

Here is your step-by-step guide to finding the right editor for you:

Step 1: Figure out what kind of editor you need

As you've learned in our last post 4 Types of Editing You Need To Know, there are four different types of editing: Proofreading, copy editing, line editing, and developmental editing. Knowing the difference between these types and understanding what falls under each can help you narrow down what type of editor you're looking for. This is where things can be the most confusing, as many people assume that searching for an editor is a one-stop shop only to find out that that's not the case.

Here is a quick glance at the different types. To read about them more in-depth, refer to our post linked above.

  1. Developmental editing is the first type to occur, you usually have to have written a few drafts first, and you do not have to have a professional handle the process.

  2. Copy editing is the second round. This should be done by a Copy Editor, and is something every book needs. It fixes the grammar/spelling errors in a manuscript.

  3. Line editing is the third round. It is done by a Line Editor. This ensures the elements of a story are consistent throughout and that the language used is polished overall. Also a necessity.

  4. Proofreading is the final necessary editing stage. It occurs right before publication to confirm that everything looks the way its supposed to before the book is sent for distribution.

Finding the right editor for your needs is important. While having each of these types is the best-case scenario, it may not be necessary for your manuscript. It may also not be realistic for your budget. In the end only you can decide which best suits your needs.

Step 2: Utilize resources to help you understand the process

Once you narrow down your needs, you should look into the process of editing further. It's a good idea to have a deeper understanding of how each specific category works. This will allow you to make an informed decision later on about who you choose to hire to help you. Check out the resources below. We've chosen works to help you gain further insight. You may find that you feel comfortable copy editing for yourself, but developmental editing is where you need to hire a professional. Or you could learn more and decide that while you're a writer, editing isn't your forte.

All About Editing: 55 Easy edits to improve your writing skills (Writing, Editing And Proofreading Skills Book 1)

Applying the 55 easy editing steps to your fiction will allow readers and reviewers to evaluate your novel purely on the strength of your story and not on weak prose, overuse of adverbs, repetition, and fluffiness. In the process, you will learn to become an experienced and competent editor that can produce work that competes and surpasses industry standards.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

In this completely revised and updated second edition, editors Renni Browne and Dave King teach you how to apply the editing techniques they have developed over the years. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.

What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)

Understand what editors actually do and the many roles they play behind-the-scenes with Peter Ginna's What Editors Do. Editing is an invisible art where the very best work goes undetected. Editors strive to create books that are enlightening, seamless, and pleasurable to read, all while giving credit to the author. This makes it all the more difficult to truly understand the range of roles they inhabit while shepherding a project from concept to publication.

Step 3: Think about your budget

Another thing to consider is how much you're willing to spend on editing overall. This particularly comes into focus when you're self-publishing. Most Indie authors are working on a budget, which means there's only so much to go around. Comparing what services are out there, whether hiring an individual editor versus a publishing company service is worth it, and finding out what specifically you need can all affect overall costs.

The easiest way to keep track is to create an excel document. Take note of things such as the name, contact information, services offered, pricing, genres, and website information. Later you can research the ones you'd like to know more about and make an informed decision.

We'll be covering some common Q&A questions in regards to editing and costs later on this month in our Editing Series.

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Step 4: Use services to help you find professionals

Using an editor finding service can save you a lot of time. These sites host editors all in one place so you can easily find them. Depending on their associates and genre, each offers something different. A few examples include Reedsy, EBook Launch, Servicescape, and Scribendi.

In our next post, going live next Tuesday, we'll be creating our own directory detailing the specifics of these services, what they offer, the names and services of individual editors, genres, and the costs associated.

Keep connected on Instagram @writingitwells. You'll find updates, new information, get to know me, and see personal works of poetry, short stories, and more!

Step 5: Look for qualified editors with great reviews

Do your research. When you search for any other service or product, the first thing you do is compare what's out there and double-check the reviews. Use the same approach here, as often editors will offer slight differences in their services and pricing. You also want to find someone who is experienced, credible, trustworthy, and efficient with proof of their work and client recommendations.

Step 6: Contact and seek opinions from several editors

Don't settle for the first editor you feel is a strong candidate. Once you get a few you feel could be a good match, go ahead and contact all of them. Share your synopsis and a sample of your work, typically your first chapter. Ask them nicely to provide some feedback and then sit back and wait. Typically they'll provide their thoughts and from there you can get a glimpse into what type of editing style they have and what it'll be like to work with them. This leads into the final step.

Step 7: Find someone you "click" with

Most importantly, you have to find the editor who is "right" for you. Just because someone is the best on paper, doesn't mean that they're the person you should work with. You have to find someone who is going to share your vision, get along with you on a personal level, and in general will help you see your vision through to the end. An editor's job is to make sure your book remains "your" book, not change it to suit their idea of what it should be. Make sure that you feel one hundred percent comfortable before moving forward.

When you're self-publishing the reality of finding an editor can be a little daunting. Understanding the process and what your work requires will help you streamline the process. Knowing that you're allowed to "shop" for the right editor until you find one who shares your vision and style will help alleviate any stress surrounding the process.

Affiliate Links Disclaimer: When you visit and click on a link, it may be an affiliate link. This means that I will be paid a percentage of money for the service, software, program, or product I am recommending. The book cover images used are from the Amazon website in association with their affiliate program.

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