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Choosing an Editor


How to find the right editor for you!

Many editors are booked weeks or months in advance, so bear that in mind!


It's also important to find an editor who has experience with your genre and is enthusiastic about your topic. Make sure they offer the kind of editing you believe you need.

Get personal recommendations by asking fellow writers. Contact any published authors you may know, and canvass writing groups on social media. It's sometimes safer to go with someone people you trust have done business with. 


Another safeguard is to find out if the editors you're looking at have a professional presence - for example, a website, social media presence, references. In other words, do they seem well-established? I know references could be misleading, but with a solid online presence, it's unlikely.


If you're not sure of the kind of editing you need, be upfront and discuss it with your candidates. 

Get sample edits from several people. Many editors do these for free - anything between 200 words and 500. See how they work, how they communicate with you, do they show an intelligent and informed interest in your topic, do they keep to agreed timeframes, do they respond quickly, and - the big one - do you feel the two of you could have a good working relationship? 

Make sure your editor understands your deadlines and is comfortable with those. You don't want to have to delay publishing a book you've planned for a particular holiday, or that's on pre-order.

Pro Tip: never put a book on pre-order without discussing it with your editor. 

You need detailed timelines if you're paying by the hour. Never pay for everything upfront, and if you're concerned, make sure there's a contract in place. It's usual to pay a deposit to book your place in the queue, and some editors will require that 50% of the price is paid by halfway. Discuss your editor's requirements and get everything in writing, contract or not.

Editing is not for the faint-hearted, so don't be offended by criticism. It doesn't mean you should give up writing! If you're committing to the process, you can't afford to take professional input personally. It's always great to find an editor who's kind, but you also want an editor who's going to help your manuscript become a highly polished work of art, and that can be difficult for all of us at times.


It's horrible to be told your carefully planned themes or plot are not so well-planned, or that your writing waffles too much. It's rough when someone tells you one of your characters lacks depth - or that some of them should be taken out altogether. It's hard to cut out sentences and paragraphs you spent days crafting, and it's tough to be told you should split your manuscript into two or three shorter books. It's no fun at all to be presented with a manuscript that seems to have more corrections in it than words (don't be afraid to ask why an editor has made a particular suggestion; it does help if you feel you're making informed decisions). Yes, find someone who can be gentle, but let them also be honest - even ruthless. If you're paying attention, it'll make you a better writer, which is a priceless bonus.


Ultimately, editing is about making your book stand out, getting those 5-star reviews it deserves, and having your readers come back for more. You need to find an editor you can trust to help you achieve that!

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