It’s easy to think you don’t need an editor … after all, you’ve come this far on your own, and it’s difficult to allow someone else to criticize and potentially make changes to your book. However, it’s important to remember that after all of those long hours creating, drafting, and rewording, you are no longer capable of objectivity. You can’t be confused about a sentence’s meaning because you know exactly what you meant. But your eventual readers won’t know.
You need fresh, clear eyes to evaluate the story and check for errors. Someone with enough emotional distance from the project to see its content and consistency instead of just the investment it represents. But because it is an investment, you can’t go out and get just anybody to edit your book — it has to be the right person.
Not all editors are the same!
Different types of editors provide different services. Depending on their versatility and your project, you may require the services of several editors.
- A developmental editor deals with structure and content. They look at the big picture and sometimes assess early drafts or the basic premise of a story.
- A line editor is substantive or stylistic. They literally work through the book line by line to check and polish language use, transitions, and style.
- A copy editor corrects grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Depending on the person, they may also perform the duties of a line editor. They make sure that the book is consistent.
- A proofreader handles the final check for mistakes like typos, omitted or repeated words, and spacing/formatting consistency. This is the final level of editing before publishing.
Where can you find them?
Freelance editors are not tied to any specific publishing group, so you are free to request their services for your self-published piece. However, not all editors are created equal, so unless you have a clear recommendation from a trusted friend, you have some research ahead of you.
Upwork.com, Guru.com, and Freelancer.com are all well-known sites that connect editors and writers. In general, you post information about your project on the site and shop around for the best-rated editors. You can access their pay rate, job success rates, work experience, and read their profile essays before you invite them to discuss your job. Scheduling a phone call if they accept your invitation is a good way to make sure you are comfortable talking to each other. If you don’t click with your editor, it will be a bumpy road – it’s best to move on to a new person. Most freelancers offer free sample edits (1,500-2,000 words) and will be happy to provide them prior to signing a contract.
When looking for an editor, it’s important to look over their prior work to see if they have experience within your genre. A professional editor does not have to love your book to do a good job, but it will certainly help the process if they understand your style and readership. Writer Dave Chesson (Kindlepreneur) devised a free editor test: (https://kindlepreneur.com/book-editors) to check if one editor may be better suited to you and your project over another. Throughout the entire process, remember that you have control – over which editor you choose as well as what changes to ultimately make to your book.
Staying on the same page is imperative!
The editor’s job is to make your book the best that it can be. This can be a painful process for you as the creator and that pain will only be compounded if you do not trust them or haven’t developed a good rapport. Your research before hiring someone will play an integral part in the success of your project. So, take your time and weigh the options carefully. Determine what type of editor or editors you need, what you can afford (without sacrificing quality), any recommendations from trusted colleagues, and what specialties and experience are on offer. Once you’ve made this decision, commit to working together and you will grow as a writer (and as a person!) because of it.
It’s hard to let go and not be the only influence on something so important to you. But your child has to go preschool before they head out into the world and your book needs an editor before you self-publish. So do your homework and choose the best editor for your book!