By: Elizabeth Cole
No matter how you publish, you should make your book the very best it can be. If you work with a traditional publisher, you’ll be assigned to one of the editors on staff. Easy peasy. What if you’re going indie? There are several ways to go about finding an editor.
You can Google “freelance editor.” I don’t recommend that route, just because it’s like buying a lottery ticket. Could be great. Probably not, though.
You can ask other writers who they use, which is a better option! RWA and other writers’ groups have discussion groups on this topic. In addition, ask indie authors whose books you admire who they use. You’ll know when you hit on a likely prospect, because authors happy with their editors won’t shut up about how great they are.
Or, you can tap into a professional network—it doesn’t have to be a fiction writers network! I happen to know plenty of people who work on publishing games and tie-in material (including novels). So most editors I’ve worked with started out editing in the RPG world, for both indie games and “big” game companies. One benefit: everyone knew everyone else’s reputation—I had a good sense going in which editors were reliable. Depending on the type of writing you do, one editorial style might be better for you, but remember that lots of editors cross over and work in multiple fields.
So, once you do that research, you should have a few names. What’s next?
Professional editors know that you need to shop around. A quality editor will be willing to do a sample pass on a small piece of writing—usually a few pages—at no charge or a very small fee. This is good for them because they can see the quality of your writing, and it’s good for you because you’ll see what sort things the editor reads for. Study these samples carefully. The feedback should be critical, yet honest, and above all helpful.
And keep in mind: send the same (or a very similar) sample to all your potential editors. Not only is this the most scientific way to evaluate their work, it’s fairest to the editors.
A few years ago, I was a newbie, and I auditioned editors. Here’s how it went down:
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