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How to Choose a Book Editor

Hi Writers!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a new blog post, but this has been on my mind lately. Since I’m both a writer and editor, I’ve been on both sides of this situation—hiring and being hired. I understand that new writers may not know what to look out for when hiring an editor and they may be wary to hire someone when they aren’t sure what they need to ask. This blog post explains the 8 most important things to verify when choosing a book editor:

1. Credentials and experience.

This can include a relevant degree to editing, such as English, writing, or a specific editing degree. Find out how long they have been an editor. If they don’t have years of experience or a degree related to editing, then ask if they have any certifications, if they have taken editing programs and classes, or if they have a membership with any professional editing associations. The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) offers a membership for editors, as well as editing classes, and is a reputable membership. Other reputable organizations include the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) and ACES: The Society for Editing.

2. Testimonials/client reviews.

One of the most important things to ask for when hiring an editor for your book is client testimonials or reviews. Most editors will have some listed on their website, but if they don’t, make sure to ask to see reviews before hiring them. This ensures that the editor has worked with multiple writers who were happy with their editing services.

3. Sample edit.

Some editors offer a free sample edit, usually ranging from 1,000-2,000 words. A sample edit allows the writer to see the types of edits the editor would make and to confirm that they know what they’re doing. It’s also helpful for the editor to see a sample of the writer’s writing style and allows both the writer and editor to determine if they’re a good fit to work together. Some editors don’t offer sample edits, which can be a red flag.

4. Specialties/genre focuses.

It’s incredibly important to make sure the editor works with the age group and genre of your book. It can be a red flag if the editor claims they “work with all genres and age groups.” This often means they don’t have any professional training or experience and are just starting out as an editor. In addition, it’s impossible for an editor to understand genre standards, tropes, and reader expectations for every age group and genre. No one reads every book genre; everyone has something they prefer. If an editor has several genres they specialize in and one is your book’s genre, this bodes well for your book because they will know exactly what to look out for.

5. Links to published books they’ve edited.

These might already be listed on their website. You can search for the books on Amazon or Goodreads, read book reviews, and view the first few chapters as a free sample on Amazon. This helps you make sure that the books don’t have reviews saying they aren’t edited well and that readers aren’t complaining about things that should have been caught by the editor.

6. Contract.

If an editor doesn’t provide a contract upfront, this is a red flag. They may be inexperienced and not know how to write a contract. Or worse, they may be trying to scam you and take your money without editing your book. The vast majority of professional editors will send a contract that you will both sign. The contract will include the details of the project, the rate charged, deadline, what is included in the editing, information about rights to the work (that everything in the manuscript belongs to the Author), and their policy about terminating the contract.

7. Languages they edit.

For English alone, there are many types of language discrepancies between American English, UK English, and Canadian English. It’s best to hire an editor who has a strong grasp of the language you write in and will know what regional phrases mean. It’s especially important regarding spelling.

8. Rates.

Lower rates don’t always necessarily mean lower quality, but you need to question why an editor’s rates are lower than the industry standard. If an editor hasn’t been editing long, they may choose to set their rates low until they build a client base. However, keep in mind that hiring the cheapest editor you can find most likely won’t end well because they probably don’t have any experience and therefore can’t edit your book the way you deserve. You can look at the EFA’s median rates to see the range of what most editors charge.

If you’re a writer looking for a fiction book editor you can trust, reach out to Poisoned Ink Press! Request editing services:

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