Editors: 3 questions to help you find the right one

Okay, so you’ve written your masterpiece, your 80K-word novel, your 40K novella, or something in between. It’s all shiny and pretty and you need to find an editor to make it even shinier. We talked a little bit about the different types of edits in the How Much Does it Cost post, so if you need a quick refresher on developmental edits, line edits and proofreading, check out that post. The question now is, how do I find an editor? Do I really need one?

 

Finding an Editor

One of the main reasons people tend to look down on self-published works is the quality of the writing. In the early days of self-publishing on Amazon, anyone could just put up their first draft, slap on a cover and hey, published! Then the entrepreneurial writers came along and made a business out of it, producing works polished enough to compete with trade publishing. However, the bad name still lingers—and you still do see some sloppy first drafts up for sale.

A traditionally published book is often pared down and polished until it shines. Sometimes, honestly, a self-pubbed book is sent out when it’s just merely gleaming. That’s often a big difference to readers—and yet, it’s an easy mistake to avoid. As we said in our very first post:

“Self-publishing isn’t about doing away with the gatekeepers. It’s about making yourself your own gatekeeper. Releasing a book that isn’t quite ready or good enough will harm your career as you’ll put off any potential readers. Before you self-publish, please be sure that your book is the best that it can be, not according to your own standards, but in accordance with worldwide publishing standards.”

Actually, let’s amend that: before you send your work ANYWHERE, make sure your work is the best that it can be. Because if it’s not that great, the agent/publisher isn’t going to take you on either.

So with all the freelance editors out there, how are you going to find the right one for you? Here are three questions to ask that will help you pick the right one.

 

Editors: 3 Questions to help you find the right one

1. What are your weaknesses?

It’s not nice to talk about weaknesses, but sometimes you need to. If you’re great at story plots but not so great at grammar, you’re better off looking for someone who’s more of a line editor. If your language skills are awesome but your plot and story development are meh, you should be looking for an editor whose strengths are in developmental edits.

Ultimately, every writer needs both, but when you’re hiring an editor, you should really concentrate on finding someone who can help shore up your weaknesses.

 

2. Does the editor understand your vision?

Everyone has agendas. Even you. You probably have a specific vision for your story and what you’re trying to achieve with it. And sometimes the vision your editor has for your story is going to be… different.

The most important thing about a good editor is that they understand what you are trying to do as a writer and then work with you to achieve that through your work. So if you’re aiming to write The Great Malaysian Novel using Malaysian English, you’re not going to work very well with an editor who insists on italicising every local term or correcting everything according to the Queen’s English.

 

3. Do you get along with the editor?

This doesn’t really have anything to do with your writing, your writing style, or your work. It’s to do with personality. You could have found a really great editor with really great pointers on how to improve your work, but if everything they say or the way they say it makes you bristle with annoyance, your partnership isn’t going to last very long. Either you’ll get upset, or they’ll get upset, and then one of you will up and leave.

 

So like that how?

What you need to do (and I’m sure the editor you’re scouting will want too) is a test edit. This could be a page or a chapter of your work, something relatively short and not time-consuming. This will give the editor a feel of your work and what you’re trying to achieve. You’ll also get a taste of how the editor works and what kind of comments they give (and how they give it).

From there, both of you can evaluate if your partnership will be mutually beneficial (and you wouldn’t mind paying money for their services) or if you should continue looking for someone else.

Remember that the editing process is a partnership. Not everything your editor says is correct, and not everything you want to do actually works. Finding the right editor is like finding the right dance partner: you need to trust each other to take the lead at different points in the process.

 


 

If you’re looking for an editor, consider Teaspoon Publishing’s Services. We’re nice, we don’t bite, and we specialise in fiction. 🙂

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