More writers are hiring editors these days, whether they’re going indie or just making sure the manuscript is polished before submitting to agents and publishers. If you’re a newer writer, unpublished, here are some things I think you should do before spending your hard-earned money on a freelance editor.
It’s best to have a critique group or partner, if possible. Try to get the most honest feedback you can—not on grammar and punctuation, but on the overall content of your book. Are readers finding the book engaging? Are they reading to the end? Are they confused?
Find fiction resources HERE. My favorites for the revision phase are Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King, and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell.
This is for fiction and memoir. PLEASE don’t underestimate the importance of story structure. (Tweet this.) If your editor has to spend the bulk of their time fixing your structure and educating you about it, you won’t get the best value for your editing money. You can learn structure on your own—and seriously, your book won’t work without it. A couple of helpful resources are Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.
This is especially helpful to make sure fiction dialogue is snappy and believable. But it helps with any kind of writing. Often when you read it aloud, you’ll catch problems you’d never spot by reading silently. (Tweet this.)
It’s difficult to verify the legitimacy and credentials of each editor. So do your best to verify that they’ve edited books that have been published by traditional publishers. It’s your best bet for getting a good edit.
Here are some freelance editors. There are a lot more out there in internet-land! Do your research.
5 Things to Do Before Hiring a Freelance Editor. A new post from @RachelleGardner. (Click to Tweet.)
Late breaking update! Robin Patchen contributed a perfect analogy in the comments, so I want to include it here. Hope you find it as helpful as I did!
I have worked with freelance editors, and I am a freelance editor, so I’ve seen both sides of this. I often say hiring an editor is like hiring a housekeeper. You don’t hire someone to pick up your socks and put away your dishes. In fact, before the housekeeper comes, most of us pick run around like crazy picking up the easy & obvious, because we want to pay the housekeeper to do the hard stuff. The “cleaner” your manuscript is, the more your editor can help you make it really shine. -Robin Patchen