Before hiring an editor, there are several things you will want to look at and ask before agreeing to work with them. In this post, I’ll share 4 things you want to know before you consider working with an editor.
We recommend checking their websites for these things before even contacting someone. However, not every editor will have all of these on their website, so you may need to contact them to get more information.
1. Editing History
Check for types of books they have edited. Editors that edit fantasy, might not be the best choice for historical fiction (or non-fiction). Non-fiction editors may not be the best choice for children’s books. Some editors are versatile, others are not. So check their history to see what genre(s) they work in the most.
You will also want to know how seasoned they are. The more books they have edited, the more experienced they are. Experienced editors have a process and usually know what they are doing. Most authors will recommend hiring a seasoned editor.
However, hiring a newbie can be a great way to save money, just know that they won’t catch everything and may require some training. You also won’t want to pay as much for someone with little to no experience.
How much an editor charges will vary depending on their experience, work load, and several other factors. The more satisfied clients they have, and the higher their work load, the more likely they are to charge more. However, just because someone charges an arm and a leg does not mean that they are worth it. We recommend looking for someone in your price range and making your decision based on that.
Most editors will either list their prices by cost per word or cost per page. An editing page is 250 words. So if they are charging $2.50 per page, it would be 1 cent per word. If you have a 75,000 word book, it will cost you $750 to get it edited by that editor.
The Editorial Freelance Association has common rates for editing on their site if you want a better idea. You can find that at: www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php
3. Description of Editing Process
As I said earlier, different editors classify editing differently. Look for what each edit includes, how they track it, and how they work. Do they go through it once, twice, etc.?
What this comes down to is you want to know what you are paying for. Knowing how in depth their process is can help you decide between them and another editor that charges the same amount.
4. Sample Edits
One of my editing friends says “any editor worth their salt will offer a sample edit.” This is where you send them a chapter or certain amount of pages from your book, and they edit it (free of charge) and send it back.
Always, always get a sample edit before making a commitment to an editor. This lets you see how they edit with a real life example. You will get a feel for how they work on your book and it will give you a good idea on whether or not you will work well together.
Having someone return an edited book where they completely destroy your writing style is never a fun surprise. Getting a sample edit beforehand can eliminate wasting time and money on an editor that sees things completely different than you do.
While those are the four main things we recommend looking for before considering an editor, there are other things you will want to know before you agree to work with someone. Here are some examples:
- Turn Around Time (how long will it take to get your book back)
- Communication Preferences (how will they communicate with you)
- Editing Style Guide (know what they use as a reference for editing)
- References (check with other authors to see if they would recommend the editor in question)
- ______________ (if you have any personal preferences or questions, make sure to let them know up front and see if it will cause any problems.
What do you look for when hiring an editor? Leave your answer in the comments below!
You can find a list of editors we recommend here.
Veronica Washington says
My first book publishing experience was costly and I lacked pertinent dos and don’ts however; with this second book it is “proceed with caution.” I am looking forward to your tips for a better marketing strategy and ways to cut costs.
Heather Hart says
Sorry to hear about your first experience, but I’m glad we can help!