The following post was written by Maria Zannini as part of her Indie Roadshow.
If you self-publish and can invest in only one thing, hire a good editor. You can get by with an average cover, zero advertising, and glitchy formatting, but you can’t escape unscathed if you publish with poor editing. A bad editing job will haunt you forever. Although I have phenomenal critique partners, including two who were editors at their day jobs, I didn’t hesitate to hire a freelance editor for my first foray into self-publishing. It was my only large expenditure, but worth every penny.
When you work with an editor (particularly on developmental edits) you’ll discuss, argue, and compromise on a thousand and one points. Working with an editor is a relationship, and the best relationships have chemistry and trust. Your editor will not make you do anything. She will offer suggestions and alternatives. It’s up to you to make the final decision.
A good editor is professional and keeps all information about your manuscript confidential. She is a good communicator and will explain her edits clearly and succinctly. She also makes herself available after the job is done. Don’t expect her to hold your hand, but do expect that she will be there to answer questions about any suggestions she made.
But how do you find an editor and how do you know s/he is the right person for the job?
If you’ve been published elsewhere you have an advantage. Not only do you have experience working with an editor and what an editorial review entails, but you have some understanding of what you want and need from this relationship.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to work with various editors yet, don’t fret. There are ways to find and evaluate potential editors for your work. Here are a few tips.
• Don’t Google for editors. Chances are all you’ll find is some corporate house of cards that’ll stiff you for nonessentials with people who may or may not be qualified.
• Get recommendations. When you’re ready for an editor, talk to your friends or peers whose published work you admire and ask them who edited their last novel. Many editors freelance even when they have a steady day job with a publisher.
• Once you have the names of several editors, engage each of them in a dialog. Ask them about their services, fees, and turnaround times.
• Ask if they offer a sample edit. Many editors will provide one or more pages of edits of your manuscript for free. This is useful when you want to learn more about an editor’s skills, or you’re not sure what an edited page will look like.
• Ask for their credentials and references.
• Don’t be intimidated by the fee. Professional editing can be expensive. (A good editor is worth it.) If you can’t afford a full developmental edit with comments and corrections, ask about a developmental edits letter, or a proofreading edit to catch grammar nits.
• Love your editor, but don’t be afraid to cheat on her. Using a second set of eyes can catch anything the first editor missed. Also, if you used a particular editor for the first manuscript, try a different one for the second and compare the final results.
Types of Edits: Edits are generally divided into two camps: developmental edits and copy edits.
A developmental edit will analyze the story, the story arc, the characters, where you need more information and where you need less. Developmental edits are usually the most costly, but it’s the one edit I wouldn’t want to ignore. Between my critique partners and alert readers, I might catch minor typos and missing punctuation, but a developmental edit is all about the story.
Copy edits cover things like grammar, typos, and punctuation. If syntax is not your forte, get thee to a copy editor.
Fees are generally negotiable. While you’re in negotiations, ask about package pricing, or select services. Fees vary widely. Some charge per page, others per word.
Below are a few editors you can query. SF authors might recognize Deanna Hoak. She’s edited quite a few outstanding novels.
Anna Louise Genoese
Talk to your published peers. Ask for recommendations. Exchange a few emails with the editors you think you might like to work with and get a feel for them. An editor is one of the most important people to have on your side. Choose wisely and you’ll find it’s the best money you ever spent.
Back to You: Does anyone have any specific questions about finding an editor or what an edited page looks like?
I hope you’ll follow along with the rest of the Indie Roadshow as I share the things I learned on my road to self-publishing.
The Devil To Pay is available at Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99. It is the first book of the series, Second Chances.
Synopsis: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and bad tequila. Shannon McKee finds herself at the end of her rope, and she bargains her soul in a fit of despair.
Shannon’s plea is answered immediately by two men who couldn’t be more different from one another. Yet they share a bond and an affection for the stubborn Miss McKee that even they don’t understand.
When Heaven and Hell demand their payment, Shannon has no choice but to submit. No matter who gets her soul, she’s not getting out of this alive.
Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels.
Follow me on Facebook or my blog.