When the writing process ends, the editing process begins but first you actually need to find an editor to read your work. That set of objective eyes fresh eyes that haven’t been staring at those words for days or weeks or months is crucial to perfecting your work, and there are tons of qualified independent editors out there who can review it.
So, how exactly do you get an independent editor to check out your work? We’ve got a few tips for the search:
- Make sure you’re happy with what you’ve written. Stylist suggests this bit of advice, and it makes sense. You don’t want to send an unfinished product for a few reasons firstly, because you want the editor to tackle the project as a whole and final entity; and secondly because professional editing does cost money, so you want to spend it wisely.
- Ask fellow writers for recommendations. This is especially helpful if you know someone who has written work in the same genre and worked with an independent editor before. Regardless though, it’s always a good idea to see whether you know writers who have had positive experiences with editors.
- Check out professional groups of independent editors. This is a tip that writer Erika Liodice offers, as these “professional alliances” tend to employ experienced editors with solid resumes. Places like the Independent Editors Group, Editorial Freelancers Association, and Words Into Print are great places to start.
- Vet, vet, vet. Whether you find the contact info of an independent editor through a professional alliance, coworker, friend, LinkedIn, or another resource, it’s essential that you check credentials. The BookBaby Blog offers several bits of guidance on this is the editor a member of any associations? Has the editor worked with content like yours before? What does the editor’s resume look like?
Look at what books/work that editor has worked on, and investigate those a bit are they quality pieces of work, and did the editor do a good job? Also don’t hesitate to ask the editor for references if someone doesn’t want to offer any references, even just written ones, then that’s suspicious.
- Work on a small sample or test edit together. Jane Friedman is right on with this advice. For as much as you can scour the Internet for evidence of an editor’s expertise, nothing beats personally interviewing that editor and working on a few pages or a chapter together. This is important to do before you sign any contracts working on a sample gives you an idea of the editor’s talent, style, and feedback, so you can assess after that whether you want to work together on an entire piece of work.
An interview also offers the opportunity to ask questions that are really important to you, so you can be sure you and the editor are on the same page (no pun intended) when it comes to your work.
- Discuss what you want in an editor. Maybe you’re looking for pure proofreading, maybe you’re looking for content editing, and maybe you want both. As Writer Unboxed explains, it’s really important to flush this out from the start so you can set up clear expectations for the editor. Different people have different strengths too, so it’s good to have this conversation.
- Get everything down on paper. Because these are typically going to be freelancing transactions, it’s really important to put all the details down on paper. You want to make sure that deadlines, cost, and other expectations are all very clearly outlined and agreed upon by everyone involved before the editing process starts. If an editor doesn’t want to do this, be suspicious.
Though there are a lot of honest independent editors out there, you have to be diligent about looking for red flags. Writer Beware offers several: If an editor doesn’t want to give out information about their credentials whether that means a resume, references, or info about previously edited work then you have reason to be suspicious. Editors that take any and all work and don’t have any area of expertise are also suspect, since you want an editor who specializes in your kind of writing.
All in all, with proper research and clear communication, finding the right independent editor can be great for your work.