10 Questions to Ask Before Choosing An Editor for Your Book

Have you recently completed your manuscript? Gone over it yourself a time or two? Then it’s probably time to hire your first developmental or line editor—and once you think you’ve found the right one, it can be really tempting to just send your book right to them and forget it for a while. But that’s not how it should work.

When I edit, I make sure that my work is super collaborative, which means that I work one-on-one with my author throughout the entire editing process. Because of this, it’s important to me that I “click” with my authors—that we are both comfortable and open with each other.

Developing a connection with my authors helps me ensure that they will trust me to help them make their book the best it can be, and I think every author should feel the same way about their editor. So how can you make that happen? 

The best way is to do thorough research before selecting your editor, so here are some questions you should be able to answer by the time you’ve made your decision.

1. Does this editor work in my genre?

Not every editor will work in genres that they aren’t interested in, especially those who focus on developmental editing. You’ll want to find out which genres your editor has an interest in and which ones they have experience in for best results. A historical fiction editor may not be a fan of your futuristic, sci-fi novel, and that will make for a tense professional edit!

2. How will this editor charge me? By the hour? By the word?

There’s nothing wrong with either of these methods—it’s completely up to the editor which they think is more fair. But you, as the author, should consider which of these methods make you feel most comfortable. Either way, make sure you also find out how you will be charged, what method of payment they expect, and by when you need to pay them. All of these things will help you decide if you want to work with this editor in more than just a creative capacity.

3. What sort of things will this editor do for you? What won’t they do?

All of my authors get as many one-on-one consultations with me as they desire before, during, and after my editing—but not all editors are like this. Some editors will charge you an hourly fee for phone conversations and even email correspondence, and some don’t have time to do these things at all.

On the other hand, your editor may be able to offer additional services apart from simply editing. They may also be able to format your manuscript for submission to agents or publishers, and some even have friends in cover design that they can connect you with. Finding out what sort of opportunities the editor can provide is a great way to narrow down your decision.

4. How does this editor act online?

Before you commit to an editor, look them up on social media, and examine their website. If their website looks outdated, or their social media accounts are full of cursing and complaints, that could be a red flag. Additionally, do your best to contact your potential editor and see how they act in their correspondence. Remember, you want your editor to be modern and professional online—so hold them to a high standard.

5. Is this editor qualified?

You’re forking out a lot of money to get your manuscript edited—so you don’t want all that cash to go to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Ask your editor: Do they have a degree? Are they working on one? Any certifications? A high school diploma? If the answers to any of these questions are “no,” do they have enough experience to substitute for the education? Make sure you pick someone who you feel is completely qualified to do the job right the first time.

6. What will this editor expect from me throughout the process?

Do they want to be paid in installments? Do they require a down payment? Will you need to participate in constant video chats with them? You should know the answers to all of these questions and more about their editing process and how they plan to work with you. If they don’t expect anything from you, that’s a sign that they aren’t really in it to help you succeed—they just want to get a few bucks.

7. Does this editor require me to credit them in my published manuscript?

While it may not be a deal-breaker, it’s important to know this going in, especially if you plan to publish traditionally—because not all publishing houses are willing to include this acknowledgement, especially if they have their own editorial staff that will go over your manuscript again.

8. Will this editor make me sign a contract? What will it entail?

The answers to the last two questions will likely be in their contract if they have one—and they should have oneAny freelance professional or business-owner should protect themselves and the rights of their customers by having a contract that they require you to sign. Be sure to read the full contract that your editor gives you before signing it, even if you really like the editor. If you can get a head-start reading it by checking out a sample of their typical contract on their website, even better!

9. What have others said about this editor?

Hopefully, you will be able to find at least a few reviews or testimonials about your potential editor, but if you can’t, you can always evaluate their work yourself by asking for a before-and-after example of their editing.

10. What is my gut feeling about this editor?

My mom always said to trust your gut feeling—and when deciding who to give hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars to, this is super important. If something feels fishy or makes you uncomfortable, don’t feel guilty about moving on and finding someone you trust more.

Once you ask all of these questions, you should have a good idea of what kind of editor that person will be, and you can make an informed decision about whether or not they are the right fit for you.

I offer freelance editing services! If you’re looking for an editor for your novel, I urge you to consider me. Learn more here.

Michelle sign off


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