Editors play a vital role in improving your writing once you have done all that you can and are happy with your manuscript. Having an editor is liking have an unbiased “you” on your team. Editing involves far more than proof reading and correcting grammar and spelling, so it is important to understand what editors do before choosing one. Always be mindful that editing is not a quick and instant process.
What an editor does
Apart from proofreading and copy editing, an editor will also:
Assess story plausibility.
Assess story development, climax and denouement quality.
Fact-check where required.
Ask questions and make suggestions.
Furthermore, an experienced, professional editor may be able to help you publish your work through their contacts in the publishing industry or guide you as to how to self-publish. Let’s talk about how you can find an editor for your book.
Short list Editors
Editors tend to specialize in fiction, non-fiction, medical and academic writing. Look for editors with experience in the genre you have chosen. Furthermore, if you are writing about romance, for example, look for an editor who edits romance stories instead of science fiction. If possible, ask around for recommendations and compile a short list. Call or email the editors with a view to finding out from them what they would need from you to consider helping you. Have an “abstract” of your story at hand to read or email to them. Once you have had a response, choose those who have commented on your abstract, as that will show they have listened to or read the abstract with interest.
When you hear back from the potential editors, Comply with their information requests and ask them to provide contactable references for writers they have helped. You also need to ask them for an overview of their experience and how many years they have been an editor. You might also ask them to explain how they see their role and how they prefer to work. If they claim to have worked for or do work for a publisher, ask the publisher to confirm.
You will probably have to pay for a trail edit, but it is a good way to make your final selection. Send one or two potential candidates the first couple of chapters for them to edit. This will give them a chance to assess your writing, and will give you an opportunity to assess their interest in your work and their professionalism. Look out for an editor who doesn’t just say all the rights things, but asks questions and makes suggestions as well.
The job of an editor is to correct and critique your work. A critique involves giving criticism. Criticism can be positive or negative. Hopefully it will always be constructive. So have a thick skin. Criticism is never meant to be, or at least shouldn’t be, personal. That said, you can’t be over sensitive or sentimental if, or when, your work is criticized. Be prepared for an editor to occasionally tread on your toes. Reflecting on their feedback is key to your success. Finally, make sure you get your book a round of proofreading.
Part of looking for an editor is selling yourself. You need to stand out as a person and as a writer. This means being humble and a little vulnerable. You need to talk a little about yourself as well as your writing. Be prepared to share personal information about yourself, your hopes and aspirations. Above all, if you are writing from personal experience, say so and why. It will give your candidate editor some insight into you, and, hopefully, want to work with and for you.