Looking for Editors

Attack of the Red Pen: Part II – I Think You Need Professional Help

By on August 07, 2014 . Category Column

Last week, I talked to you about how to take to your own manuscript with red pen in hand, inner editor at the ready, and start making changes.

But are your own eyes enough?  Probably not.  We have a way of going blind to our own work—after all, no one will ever read your book as many times as you, and odds are you’ve already been over it multiple times.  You aren’t going to see half of what’s there anymore.

This isn’t to say that self-editing is ineffective—it is—however, after a few rounds, once your book starts picking up that nice sheen of the freshly polished, you’re going to want to get some back up.  You’re going to want to know that it’s ready for the public.

You’re going to want to seek professional help.


Calling in a Pro

If you decide you’d like to work with a professional editor, you’re going to want to get someone who’s a right fit for you.  Things to consider:


- Your work’s genre, age group, word count, and other stats.
– Your specific editing needs (story structure, grammar and spelling, character development, etc.)
– Your time-frame
– Your budget
– What you want to get out of the editing service


When you look for an editor, keep all of these concerns—and any others you might want to add to the list—in the forefront of your mind.  They’ll want to know, and you’ll want to make sure you’re hiring someone who specializes in what you’ve got.

Start with these resources:  Your network of writers, online writers’ publications, and a basic Google search (also check the resources listed below).  You can also check out the blogs and websites of other independent authors, especially those you respect.  Sometimes, they’ll post about their editing experiences.

When you ask your writer network, be sure to make specific inquiries about the quality of the editor.  What was their experience?  What was the turnaround?  Was the editor pleasant to work with, but also honest in their critiquing?

And keep an eye out for the following red flags that can spell disaster for you:


- Some referrals (particularly form other industry pros, like publishers/agents) can earn a percentage for the referrer, so make sure your referrals aren’t motivated by money
– Not being able to find credentials, history, past clients, and examples or samples of their work
– If they seem secretive about their process or won’t answer your questions in an up-front manner
– If they aren’t choosy about the work they edit (most editors have a preferred genre, style, etc., so anyone who isn’t picky is probably desperate)
– Indicators that they’re not a seasoned pro, like a lack of past clients or a short time in the industry
– If they’re going to be having an intern or assistant do the editing


In particular, look for editors who are members of one of the following:


- Editorial Freelancers Association (US)
The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (UK)
The Institute of Professional Editors (Australia)
The Editors’ Association of Canada


This will help ensure the professionalism, experience, and resources to do your book justice.  (P.S. – This is the list of resources I mentioned earlier!)

And lastly, be sure to get everything in writing, and to discuss all parameters of the business arrangement you’re entering into.  Ask questions, take time, and make sure you’re comfortable with the person you’re hiring—they are, after all, going to critique your baby!  Take your time finding the right editor, and put the necessary legwork and researching into it.  Read up on the person, check them out on social media, talk to past clients; it’ll be worth the effort in the long run.


Have you ever hired a professional to help you with your manuscript?  What was your experience?  Would you recommend anyone?


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