Finding a “Good” Editor

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Finding a “Good” Editor

How to find a good editor. 11 things to look at when choosing an editor.

What is a “good” editor?
Each author’s opinion will vary on what makes a “good” editor. Ultimately, a “good” editor is an editor who provides an author with a quality, professional service, meets the author’s editing needs, works in a timely fashion, and is a good “fit” for the author and his/her book.

Each author is an individual and will have his/her own requirements for editing needs as well as the qualities they feel will make a “good” editor.

When selecting an editor, an author should look at a variety of factors. Here is a list of some things to consider when choosing an editor.

1) Price
This shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but it is something everyone considers. Asking what a “good” price is for editing will yield many answers. Asking this question is akin to asking how much it will cost to repair your car without the mechanic knowing any details. As with any other service, prices will vary depending upon what you need done and the service provider. I wouldn’t say there is such a thing as a “good” price. This is a matter of opinion. Everyone has a different financial situation and budget. What one person considers a good price might be too expensive for another.

A lower price doesn’t mean low quality and a higher price doesn’t mean high quality. When you consider the price, you’ll also want to see if payment plans are available and which payment methods are accepted.

Prices for editing will vary based on the type of editing (copy/line, content/developmental), the degree of editing required, the number of passes included, and the editor. All editors do not use the same rate system. Editors might set their rates by the page, by the word, or by the hour. While many editors provide you with a rate based on a sample edit, some will have a flat rate based on word and/or page count. Some editors do not list rates on their websites. If the rate isn’t listed, contact the editor.

2) Type of Editing Needed
There are different types of editing. Content/developmental editing is often more expensive than copy/line editing. Content/developmental editing looks at plot, plot holes, character development, flow, transitions, etc. Copy/line editing focuses on sentence structure, punctuation, subject-verb agreement, passive vs. active voice, paragraphing, typos, etc. Some copy/line editors will note any issues with plot, characters, and transitions if they see them. Proofreading is the last type of editing done and usually looks at spelling, typos, capitalization, and punctuation.

3) Sample Edit
Does the editor provide a sample edit? How many words? Is the sample edit free? If the editor charges for the sample edit, what is the cost? If the editor charges for the sample edit, is this cost deducted from the total editing fee if you choose the editor?

The sample edit is used for the editor to determine an editing rate based on the author and manuscript. The sample edit will also provide the author with an example of the editor’s work.

4) Editing Process
How does the editor provide the service? Are Microsoft Word Track Changes and Comments features used? What is the average turnaround time? Does the editor provide updates during editing? What does the editor require from you before, during, and after editing?

5) Communication
What type and level of communication do you need? Is the editor available via e-mail, Internet chat programs (e.g., Facebook messenger, Skype), phone calls, and/or text messages? The communication process starts before you choose your editor. Does the editor respond in a timely fashion (usually within 2-4 business days) of your initial editing inquiry?

6) Editor’s View on Editing.
Is the editor a stickler for rules? Does the editor understand that sometimes rules are broken (e.g., use of sentence fragments in dialogue or for emphasis, using passive voice when appropriate). What is the editor’s goal and belief in respect to editing? Will the editor ensure your voice and style are maintained?

7) What You Know About the Editor
Have you heard about the editor in writing/book communities? Have other authors recommended the editor? Have you read a book edited by the editor? Does the editor have a website and/or social media sites? Is there a list of past projects the editor has worked on? Does the website give information about the editor and the service provided? Are there testimonials/reviews listed on the editor’s website and/or social media sites? Does the editor have a preferred genre? Are there any genres the editor won’t edit?

8) Editor’s Attitude
Is the editor professional? Courteous? Respectful? Does the editor explain things in a way that is easy to understand? How does the editor treat the author and any questions he/she has? Does the editor provide any additional assistance/feedback beyond working directly on your manuscript?

9) Editing services contract
Does the editor provide one? An editing services contract will spell out the particulars of the service the editor provides, editor and author requirements, scheduled date of editing and timeline, payment details, and protects the author and his/her work.

10) Availability
When is the editor’s next available editing date? How far in advance do you need to book an editing slot with the editor? Will the editor allow you to book an editing slot now for a future date? Will the dates the editor has available fit with your timeline for other book-related tasks and potential publication date?

11) Good “Fit” For You and Your Book
After looking at all the other factors, determine which editors you would like a sample edit from. Once you have obtained a sample edit and quote from your selected editors, review each sample edit and the information gathered about each editor.

When you are deciding which editor you will hire, you want to consider all the above-mentioned factors and ensure the editor is a good “fit” for you and your book. Will the editor meet your requirements for you and your book and provide a professional service and working relationship?

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I wonder what a reasonable range for an editor would be.
Very nice article.

Amor Libris (Kelly Hartigan)

Thank you, Amy. It’s hard to give an estimate on a reasonable range. What one person considers reasonable, another person might consider expensive. As stated above, there are a variety of factors that can affect price. One that isn’t mentioned is the length of the manuscript. Do you have a price range that you would consider reasonable for a manuscript of a particular length?

Good article. This is a lot to think about when picking an editor.

Useful article, editing is a a really tricky business…

You gave excellent coverage to this topic. Your series is very helpful.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Amor Libris (Kelly Hartigan)

Thank you, Arlee. This is my first time participating in the A to Z Challenge. I’m glad to hear that people are finding my posts in this series to be helpful.

You’re right, price should never be a deciding factor in any purchase. It’s all about value.

This is absolutely right. I hate when people assume that we have lower quality, because of lower prices. I love this article. <3