Editing is a major and important investment…. SO how do you find the right editor ?
I spoke to Greer Glover, editor and creative writing mentor, with many years of experience and training in fiction editing under UK and US editors. She feels it is important to choose a good editor who is the right fit for you and suggests a methodical and organised approach to finding that person
“Do your research and use your network,” she says. “Ask any of your writer or author friends if they can recommend an editor. This is a great place to start. It means that the editor has earned approval by doing a good job.
Alternatively, search directories of professional editing and author organisations. Editors either ‘earn’ the opportunity to advertise themselves in a listing through a combination of membership and experience, or they pay to advertise.”
She says it is important to look for an editor specific to the job you need.
“The good news is there is a whole range of editors who are experts in different editing areas.
Editors can specialise in specific fiction genres or they may specialise in non-fiction subjects. Many editors have the skills that can cover more than one type of work but there are those who prefer to work solely on one type.”
Your Starting Point
· Prepare a list of editors of 5-10 editors.
· Check out the website – are their services clear?
· Does the bio sound credible and relevant?
· Are there any testimonials?
· Is it clear on the website how their costings work?
· Are you able to discuss the costs for different editing services with the editor?'
Make contact and ask for a sample edit
· How responsive are they?
How do you evaluate that sample once you receive it?
Here are Greer's 5 steps to finding the right fit.
Step 1 – Is the editor on the same wavelength as you?
Does she/he “get” your voice and your story? Does the feedback give you a resounding feeling of recognition, of the editor having put her thumb on parts of your story you suspected weren’t quite working as well as they could, of a big internal “yes” to comments?
Do you like his/her editing style and personality? Editing is a strangely intimate relationship; you’re inviting someone to critique not just your work, but corners of your psyche even you may not be aware you reveal in your writing. Do you like the editor’s approach? Is it formal and businesslike; or informal with a more personal feel? You are choosing someone to work with so look for an element of compatibility.
Does the feedback make you excited to dive in and start tackling revisions? The right editor will spark your passion for your project, even if you know it may be a lot of work, not leave you feeling deflated or discouraged.
If the answer to all these subjective questions is yes, then move on to the next step.
NB - Yes, of course, consider the specifics of the editor’s work in the sample BUT Greer Glover also points out,
“A good editor will ask questions to make sure you’re clear about what you want. Handing over a piece of writing with the instruction to edit it may seem simple enough, but a good editor will want to ask a few questions before running the red pen through any text.
Expect to discuss the level of editing required. Editing is a general term and a lot of people don’t realise the different options available. For a novel, for example, there are choices ranging from a developmental edit, which looks at the big-picture storytelling elements underlying the novel to see if they’re secure; to a manuscript critique, where general guidance is given on how well a story is working. A copy-edit examines the accuracy and consistency of text, along with spelling, grammar and punctuation.
She says that when it comes to proofreading, in her experience, “Clients often ask for a proofread when what they’re after is a ‘proof-edit’, where re-writing is expected alongside the traditional proofread.
“Questions may also be asked about the intended audience, publishing expectations and deadlines – all of these things show that a good editor is working in your interests from the outset.”
Step 2 – Do the edits reflect your vision?
As far as the work itself is concerned, the most important consideration is whether the editor seems to understand your intentions in the scene/story and their feedback is designed to help you achieve it.
Many authors have an idea of editors as brutal red-pencilers, tearing apart their story. That’s not the purpose of a good edit – skilled editors will help you express your vision and voice as effectively, impactfully, and elegantly as possible.
Publishing is subjective. No one’s suggestions are the “right” ones; a good editor works to help you achieve your vision, not his but that doesn’t mean his/her edits shouldn’t offer constructive suggestions for how to do it.
Step 3 – The cost… what would you expect to pay?
Greer Glover says, “A good editor will charge industry rates and these can be found on some websites like the CIEP.
What’s striking is the number of people who expect editing work completed at a very low rate.
Many editors will have had an entire career working in editorial roles. Often they’re writers as well as editors, and they’ll have a wealth of knowledge about the different ‘writing industries’, such as traditional publishing, self-publishing, journalism or copywriting.
They’ll know how to edit in digital, on-screen or hardcopy formats. They’ll be skilled in commenting on your work in a sensitive manner.
Crucially, they’ll know about editing and also about understanding what a client wants to achieve from their text or copy.
They’re not ‘having a go’ at editing as a side hustle. They’ve made editing and writing their life so you’ll need to pay the going rate if you want your work edited properly, to industry standards.”
Some editors offer sample edits to see if their work fits you as an author, and if you fit them as a client. It's an area worth thinking about.
Step 4 – Should you sign a contract straight away?
“Absolutely not!” says Greer. “A good editor won’t rush you into making a decision.
The editing of any writing project requires careful thought, consideration, and time, and so, too, does a decision surrounding which editor to choose – especially if you’ve spent hours, weeks or even months creating a story or series of articles.”
Step 5 – Is it normal for different editors to suggest completely different edits?
“Yes!” says Greer. “Editing can be highly subjective and unless it’s a straightforward proofread, it’s likely that no two editors will make the same editing decisions. A good editor knows this and understands that where a client is happy with a sample edit from one editor, they may not be as satisfied with one from another.
Make sure you’re happy with his or her level of expertise as well as when your work is scheduled for completion. Both need to match. A good editor will understand.
Remember! Knives aren’t the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too!’
"The writer may have the vision and creativity to write the story, yet it often takes an even stronger editing gatekeeper to collaboratively bring that story to life as the final product.”