The right editor often works at homeEvery author needs the right editor. This is an important step for the completion of a book. After diligently working on a manuscript, it is a grave mistake for an author to skip the editing process. Authors cannot adequately edit their own work. Friends and family members are no substitutes for a professional editor.

When looking for the right editor for your book, consider the following criteria.

Criteria for Selecting the Right Editor

  1. Hire someone with whom you can work. If you cannot trust and respect your editor, do not entrust your manuscript to him or her.
  2. Hire someone with proper qualifications. This person should have a good reputation. It is smart to ask for references and check them out. They should have at least a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or communications. If the person has worked as an editorial assistant in the publishing industry, they will also have good credentials.
  3. Find someone who works under a contract that clearly spells out expectations. The contract protects both parties. It ensures a mutual agreement on “scope of project,” timeline, potential costs associated with the project, actual rate and payment schedule. The more the author and editor are in agreement, the better the relationship will be.

What does an Editor Do?

A professional freelance editor will “scrub” the manuscript. He or she will not only clean up spelling and grammatical errors but also suggest deletions, plot points, and rewrites. The editor prepares the manuscript for publication.

Depending on the scope of the project, an editor creates more fluid prose. They won’t change the “voice” of the author. They won’t change the research (unless factual errors are discovered). They won’t alter the author’s innovative ideas and methods. The editor revises and enhances the text.

Most professional book editors will scrutinize the structure of the manuscript to be sure it is cohesive. They will suggest cutting or adding text, usually with the approval from the author. These changes will need to be discussed prior to signing the contract.

Working closely with an editor, it is advisable to set up routine checks on the pages as they are completed. Before I accept an editing project, I like to set up a review with the author after the first 25 pages for a small fee. The author and I can decide if we want to work together without investing a lot of time or money. If the author is satisfied, a contract can be drawn up. If the editor is interested in the work and feels the author has reasonable expectations, an agreement can be made.

Finding the right editor is not easy. It takes time. The relationship between a writer and an editor needs to be a close arrangement of mutual respect. Both are working to create the best manuscript possible. The editor’s reputation is as important as the author’s credibility. Once you’ve found an editor with whom you can work, stay with him or her for as long as you’re writing books.