Finding the Right Editor for Your Manuscript

The idea of finding an editor can be a terrifying prospect for any writer. To hand over something you poured your soul into for months to a complete stranger can seem like a monstrous task. And, if you are anything like me when I started, you feel completely lost when it comes to where you should look for an editor.

Google It

The first thing anyone does these days when wanting to find information is searching on Google. The problem with searching throughout the thousands of pages listing freelance editors and editing circles is credibility. Technically, anyone can call themselves an editor, copy editor, proofreader, etc. online. Unless an editor has a provable résumé, you might find yourself with someone who charges a fortune and provides very little usable editing for your manuscript.

My verdict? I’ll pass.

Freelance Editor Networks

Without naming the site, I found a network of editors professing to be the best option for writers looking for an editor. Listing profiles of all the editors in the network made it easy to find a few who I thought would be enjoyable to work with on the manuscript.

After submitting a form describing the work I needed done, I received four responses over the next three days—each with an attached sample edit of the first page, résumé, short bio, and price quote.

It’s a sad reality, but editors are not paid what they were before the economy went sour. Unfortunately, some people seem to have missed the memo, and quote a price more appropriate for 2003 instead of 2013.

My verdict? Hit-or-miss, certainly not for self publishers without a large wallet.

Author Referral

Out of all the options available, if you can contact an author whose work you admire to see who edited their book, go for it. It is no guarantee you will have a good relationship with the same editor, but you will have a substantial idea of their editing capabilities.

Finding My Editor

After feeling like I had exhausted all options available to me, I stumbled upon a post on Reddit by author Michael J. Sullivan. Seeing how open he was in the thread, in addition to posting helpful threads elsewhere on Reddit, I decided to contact him to see his process for finding an editor as a successful self publisher. Thankfully, Michael was more than happy to help me out.

He told me he used Craig’s List—something that did not even occur to me. He also explained his process for making a spreadsheet.

Take the first 3 pages of your manuscript and add a few errors to it (like it’s instead of its…missing a closing ” on dialog and maybe using through instead of though.

Place an Ad on Craig’s list. Say you have a novel that is xxx words long and you are looking for an editor. Explain what in particular you are looking for (just copy editing, developmental editing) ask them to send you an email.

Make a spreadsheet – first column is email of people responding. Second column is $’s then have a column for each “error” (those planted by you and others that are found and edits come in) and mark which editors find which ones.

Send an email with first 3 pages, indicate that that is xxx words of a yyy manuscript ask them to edit/return the 3 page sample then give you an estimate for the full book based on what they have seen so far. As responses come in – fill out the spreadsheet. Choose one or two editors from the list.

I did just as Michael suggested, creating the spreadsheet and waiting for the handful of responses I expected. To my complete shock, I received dozens of responses to the ad I placed.

After weeding through them all, I found the perfect editor for my book.

My Verdict? Thumbs up!

Photo credit: Jenny Kaczorowski via photopin cc.

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