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How to Choose a Freelance Editor for Your Self Published Novel

Have you written a book and are now ready for someone to edit it? Make sure you choose your editor wisely!

Here are some reasons why you should choose your editor carefully, as well as steps to take to vet your edit.

Why to Vet Your Freelance Book Editor

It’s important not only to choose any editor for your book, but also to choose the right one for you. Here is why you should take the time to vet them.

Understand Their Qualifications

Are you looking to hire a generalist or a specialist? Chances are, if you’re writing fiction, you’ll feel more comfortable working with an editor who is familiar with your genre. You will have a much better time getting suggestions that are helpful and useful and geared towards your genre if you’re working with an editor who has experience in that genre.

Now, if you’re looking for an editor and you can’t find one within your genre, you can ask for recommendations. For instance, you can get word of mouth referrals from other writers (where a lot of my business comes from).

One way to do this is to find specific writing groups and see if those folks include writers and editors because some people do both, or see if the writers there have people they have enjoyed working with and would recommend to you.

Determine If The Project Rate Fits Your Budget

Another reason why to vet your editor is so that you are getting your money’s worth. Depending on whatever your budget is, you need to make sure that you find an editor within the budget that you want.

If you have an expected budget range and you’re looking for an editor that may be outside of that range, it’s better to know now than when you ask them for their project rates and other details that will help your decision making.

You should also vet your editor in order to look for red flags and determine whether they are a good fit. Red flags may include:

  • Their attitude is not a good fit – If it seems as if their tone from either phone calls, Zoom calls, or email is just not vibing with what you want, continue looking for an editor that better fits your needs.
  • Their editing style is not a good fit – Does the sample make you feel like they understand your tone and have enhanced the story rather than take away from it? If that’s the case, they may not be a good fit.
  • You feel uncomfortable with the process – If the editor is not clear enough with your about the timeline, how their contracts are set up (or say they don’t offer contracts), or anything else that signals to you they can’t be transparent, it might be time to consider someone else.

Make sure you have an editor that provides contracts and upfront fees or payment plans and things like that, so that you can secure your spot because there’s nothing worse than having paid an editor secure your spot and then they don’t work on your project at all.

How to Vet Your Freelance Editor

Ready to look for an editor for your book? Here are the steps you need to take to do so.

Step one: determine what kind of edits you need.

Editors may define their services in different ways, so you need a good understanding of what you are looking for. As an example, I typically offer either developmental edits or line edits for clients. Some hire me for both services, but not always.

Learn more about developmental edits versus line edits.

Step two: get referrals and make your list.

Gather information about the editors you want to consider. Between asking writer’s groups and your own research, your list might include their contact information, services relevant to your needs, and any testimonials you may have gathered from others.

Step three: talk to the editors about your project.

Once you have editor information gathered, it’s time to share your project details with them. Some information that is important to share ahead of time when you reach out includes your genre, word count, budget, and timeline of when you’d like the edits completed.

Learn about common questions editors as their prospective clients.

H3: Step four: see if they are open to doing a sample edit and have availability that aligns with your needs.
Some editors may require a paid sample, with the cost going toward your project rate, and others may offer a free sample edit. Both are valid ways to vet an editor. A typical word count to send for a sample edit is between 500 to 1,000 words.

Step five: review the sample edits.

After you have gathered the samples, compare across the board which ones are meeting your expectations and have good feedback and which ones fall short. From there you can decide which is the best fit between their quality of work, the rapport you have with them, and any other factors that you feel are necessary to have in a good editor.

Keep in mind that sample edits may include tough feedback, so it’s important to keep an open mind and avoid choosing an editor that showers you with compliments. You’re paying them to critique your work, so if the feedback is fair but also focuses on polishing your work, then you know they’re moving in the right direction.

Contact a Freelance Book Editor

Many factors go into choosing the right editor for your project, so take it seriously. The editor you choose the voice and tone of your story, and gathering samples to compare against your goals is an essential part of the process.

Contact me to learn more about my processes and to request a sample edit. I’m happy to hear about your project goals and to see if we’re a good fit.