You’ve written your book. It’s awesome! It’s 300+ pages of excellent story that you are absolutely certain everyone is going to want to read and will love – but is it REALLY finished? Have you edited it?
I’m not talking about using the spelling and grammar check in Word. I’m not talking about reading through it three times yourself and feeling it’s perfect. I’m not even talking about having your best friend read it and telling you it’s perfect.
I’m talking about hiring a stranger who doesn’t care about your feelings, who is a professional editor, get’s paid for his/her editing services, who has gone through your book with a fine tooth comb and polished it.
Do I really need an editor?
No. You can send your manuscript to a traditional publisher who’s reviewer will read it, spot a grammatical mistake and chunk it before getting to page 5.
No, you don’t need to make sure your book is 100% polished and perfect, putting your best foot forward when presenting yourself and your work to some publishing company that is going to spend thousands on marketing for you – because it’s not like you are going to brush your hair or wear a nice outfit to an interview or even brush your teeth… right?
Of course you are going to want it edited!
Yes, that was sarcasm. I have met many people who have read books (even by famous authors) who’ve spotted grammatical mistakes and of those who actually finished the story (many don’t bother) – do you know what they discuss? “Did you see that grammatical mistake on page 134?” “Yeah his editor really let him down.” “I know, I can’t believe he’d put his name on something like that.”
So, yes you need an editor but how do you find one?
Fortunately the web is full of opportunities. Type book editor into a search and find 34 million options. Plus, you could try job websites, like LinkedIn, Freelancers or Monster. Narrow it down by deciding what you need; content editing (plot structure, lagging story, inconsistencies in content) or copy editing (punctuation, grammar, verb tense, spelling, and those things that cause readers to stop reading) or a proof reader (verifying every comma, quote and period is in place and capital letters where they should be).
How do I decide / narrow down the options?
Start dating. Not literally, but most professional editors will edit a paragraph, page or number of words to show you what they can do. Some will hit the spell check. Some will rewrite complete sentences, some will make suggestions that will better the story, some will use words you don’t even know. You have to find one that does what you want for your book.
Most editors charge by the word, not the hour; somewhere around 2-6 cents. Others charge by the page. Some won’t quote you until they’ve looked at your work. Research them. Ask questions. Compare. Ask for references. Get sample work done on your own writing.
Also check Predators and Editors, a great website to weed out the bad guys from the good guys – but remember, not everyone is listed and if they aren’t listed, that is not necessarily good or bad. They may be new. They may not be ‘big enough’ to be known, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good.
I can’t afford an editor.
I understand. They are expensive. It’s hard to find the right one. It’s time consuming and you don’t want to throw your hard earned money away on someone you don’t know. Do you know a teacher? Someone who maybe teaches English, who might have some free time this summer, who could use a little extra cash in their pocket or a barter of services? What about a really smart high school or college student (making A’s in English, or mastering in editing?) Have you checked out writers groups? Do they know someone they could refer, or maybe with a dozen fresh eyes looking at your manuscript, they all might catch a little of something.
Either way, the point is to not hand over the first draft. Revise, edit, reread, and proof. Get many, many eyes on it, and ask even the friends to be critically honest. This is your future. You need the truth.