How Authors Can Find a Good Editor

The growth of indie publishing has also seen a growth in freelance editors. This leads to a dilemma: how do you find a good one? The trouble is, anyone who thinks they're good at grammar can now set themselves up as an editor and this creates wildly varied pricing, from dirt cheap to hourly rates that seem extravagant. When looking for an editor for your work there are four things you should consider.

1) Qualifications/Professional Memberships

Not all good editors have formal editing qualifications; however, their possession, coupled with a professional membership, is a good sign. Prices from these editors may be a little higher, but you can hire them with a reasonable degree of confidence in their work. To find such editors, search for professional editing organisations as they will often have a directory.

2) Experience
There are many good editors out there who have no formal training but who do possess several years experience working as editors at small presses. Check their working history and, if possible, read a couple of the works they've edited. This will give you an indication of their abilities. Although, do not base your final decision on it. After all, editors cannot force authors to change things—the story remains the author's baby at the end of the day—so a few editorial issues may not be the editor's fault if an author dug in their heels.

3) Word of Mouth
If you are looking for an editor, ask around in author groups and check out any recommendations. Nothing trumps a good recommendation from someone who's already used an editor's services. If you see several recommendations for the same editor, that's certainly a good sign.

4) Pricing and Flexibility
When you have a shortlist of four or five names, contact those editors to obtain a quote. Any editor worth pursuing will offer a no-obligation quote and many will do a sample edit of one or two pages for you upon request, so you can see their work. Compare the prices, but don't judge solely on that. After all, the more qualified and experienced an editor the higher their rates are likely to be. Costs will also depend on the type of editing service you require. Alongside the four points already mentioned, consider how their availability fits in with your schedule, the manner and promptness of their reply to your enquiry, and the general 'feel' you get from them based on your correspondence with them so far.

I will expand on this topic further in a video later this month, so keep an eye out for that both here and on YouTube. Join me again next month, too, when I will conclude this discussion by looking at what you can expect from your editor once you've hired them.