Today we’re talking about editors, specifically how to vet them and find a service provider that’s right for you. If you have not already watched my two videos on the types of editing and the costs and timelines associated with them, I highly recommend that you watch those first so you have more in your informational arsenal when researching providers.
A lot of the information in this video will be applicable to other types of service providers, not just editors. Vetting providers is only one piece of the puzzle, because on top of finding people that are quality, you also need to find someone that you mesh with and that you’re happy to work with. Anyone who’s ever had a job or worked on a group project will know that your whole day can be ruined if you have to work with that one person you don’t jive with no matter how competent they might be.
Let’s begin with the assumption that you know what type of editing you’re looking for, and then we can start off with the basics to find a qualified editor. Here are the 6 things you should ask before hiring an editor to make sure they’re right for you.
Does the editor have experience?
Anyone can call themselves an editor without any experience, and it is absolutely not uncommon for people to offer those services without any of the skills, training, or experience to back it up. If they are not immediately transparent about how long they’ve been editing, be sure to ask. Since experience tends to be a selling point, editors who have a lot of it are more likely to be up front about that so you know they’re qualified from the get go. They are likely to tell you their credentials, have a list of previous and current clients with successful books, and testimonials from clients. If they don’t, you can always ask.
I should also be clear that there’s nothing wrong with hiring an editor that’s new to the industry or that is just starting out. An editor having experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a good experience, but your editor should be up front about it.
Is the editor clear about what service(s) they provide?
If someone just says they’re an editor and doesn’t tell you the type of editing they specialize in, that’s a red flag. In most cases people are going to have a particular strength, but you’ll often see developmental editors also offering line editing, line editors offering copyedits, or copyeditors offering proofreading. It’s very uncommon to see someone offering all varieties as a single individual. If they’re part of a team, then that’s a totally different case.
In addition they should be transparent about what you receive with the service. For example, if you’re getting a developmental edit done, will they be providing you with an editor letter, also called a manuscript evaluation, or will they be providing feedback directly in the document? Does that developmental edit include an additional pass to ensure the suggestions have been implemented effectively?
Also, please clarify with them that they’re actually offering the service they say they’re offering. Some people will use terms interchangeably even when they have vastly different meanings, which is why it’s important for you to know and understand what those terms mean before beginning your search. Your editor should be willing to tell you exactly what you’re getting.
Is the editor transparent about pricing?
There’s a few things to consider when it comes to pricing.
Do they give you the basic cost and/or a range up front? Are they charging appropriately for the industry standard? Do you have to pay a deposit to secure your spot or pay for the service up front?
When it comes to pricing, not all providers are transparent. I recognize that some manuscripts have unique needs that could impact pricing, but if there’s not even a range provided, I tend to get suspicious. Maybe there’s nothing sus going on, but I’ve seen service providers charge up to four times the price from one person to the next, and if they hadn’t known one another they’d have never found out the price was outrageous. Unfortunately, there are service providers of all kinds that are ready and willing to take advantage of newbies, so please do your research when considering hiring anyone for any service.
Please check out my episode on editor costs and timelines so that you know if you’re being charged fairly for the services you’re getting. I have seen a lot of up-charging in my time as an author, and while I absolutely believe everyone should be paid fairly, having to pay out a grand for a proofread or nine grand for a dev edit is not that.
You may also want to look into whether or not they require you to pay a deposit. Paying a deposit or even paying up front before service begins is not uncommon. The deposit might go towards the full editing cost or it might be specifically to hold your place in their schedule. If any service provider is asking you to pay a deposit on PayPal more than 180 days before your service begins, be aware that that’s the time limit for refunds, so be sure your provider is reputable and reliable.
Is the editor clear about timelines?
You’ll most likely have to reach out to specific editors to get an idea of their schedule and availability. Some of them will provide a general range for timelines geared towards the length of the average novel. So, for example, when I do critiques, I let people know to expect a thirty day turnaround for a book of about 80,000 words, which gives people a ballpark estimate they can apply to their story.
Popular editors are going to have less availability which can take them out of the running even if all the other factors are perfect. Authors have timelines they need to consider and if an editor isn’t available, or would have you cutting things really close to meet your deadlines, then you may just have to look elsewhere.
Your editor should give you a clear start date and be in communication with you as you approach that date so everyone knows what’s going on. If you have any issues meeting your date with your editor please be sure to talk to them about it. If you’re going to be late you might have to be bumped from the roster or moved to a time slot that doesn’t work for your release schedule.
Will the editor do a sample edit?
Not everyone will do a sample edit, but many will so it doesn’t hurt to ask. This will usually be a small portion of your story, probably around a thousand words or so, that will let you see the editor at work. This can also be very helpful if you want to compare the work of multiple editors. One thing you can do with a sample edit is input something small that you know is incorrect to see if it gets flagged by the editor. If, for example, you’re getting a copyedit sample and you really struggle with that skill set then you might not notice if things are being missed, but if you put something there yourself you can more accurately judge the skills of the editor.
Does the editor edit what you write?
An editor might seem perfect in all ways, but if they don’t have any experience with your genre or they take personal issue with what you write, they’re not going to be a good fit. Editors should make it clear what genres they’re comfortable with and which they have experience in. Like I mentioned in the first episode on editors, an editor that has a lot of experience in your chosen genre can be a valuable asset in helping you with marketability and meeting industry standards. If you’re a smut writer like me then you’ll need to find an editor that’s comfortable with the subgenre, tropes, and kinks you write. Remember that the editors aren’t the only ones that need to be transparent. Be clear about what you write so the editor can determine if your work is something they want to take on.
If you’re struggling to find an editor, you can always ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations. Even if someone is appearing on your radar because of a recommendation, please still go through this list. I’ve worked with editors that came highly recommended before and had the opposite experience as the recommender. Unfortunately, even the best intentioned editor can have things going on in their lives that impact their performance. Hopefully, if something does crop up your editor will be honest with you about it, but not everyone will. Doing your due diligence when searching out an editor can minimize the risk of a terrible experience, but we’re all humans and sometimes things happen.
Be open, honest, and communicative with your editor, and they should be the same with you.
That’s all for now. You can find all of my books and platforms in the description below. If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, please do let me know. And if you’d like early access to these you can join my Patreon where I share them with people as soon as they’re ready to roll. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you soon for another episode!
First Heat Series – m/f, 3rd person POV
First Heat: https://books2read.com/FirstHeat
First Heat: Second Chances: https://books2read.com/FHSC
First Heat: Tying The Knot: https://books2read.com/FirstHeatTTK
Heat Play Love – m/m/m, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/HeatPlayLove
Conference Confidential – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/ConferenceConfidential
2021 Omegaverse Collection – contains First Heat, First Heat: Second Chances, Heat Play Love, Conference Confidential, and 2 bonus shorts https://books2read.com/OV2021
Nicky and the Night Owls: Part One – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV https://books2read.com/NickyNightOwls
Nicky and the Night Owls: Part Two – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV – currently on preorder https://books2read.com/NickyNightOwls2
Luca and Luna – m/f, 1st person POV https://books2read.com/LucaLunas nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
Salacious Salvation – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/SalaciousSalvation
Playtime with Professor – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/PlaytimeWithProfessor
PARANORMAL Into The Depths – f/nb, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/intothedepths
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