What To Look For In An Editor
You’re welcome to use the outline of what I do when editing a manuscript for comparison when shopping for a book editor. In fact, I’d encourage you to do so. I can’t take on every author as a client, so I want writers to make sure they find someone who will do their work justice. (I only accept 8-10 clients each year.)
Allow me to do a bit of explaining so you’ll know what to look for in a book editor.
One of the first things you need to be aware of is that there are many types of editors.
Just because someone has edited in college, for a newspaper, etc., doesn’t qualify them to work on books. Books have their own style manual, for starters. Beyond that, there are many elements a good book editor brings into play when working on your manuscript, some of which I outline shortly. Be wary of highly discounted editors, too. Most have minimal skills. On the flip side, super expensive editors—those who charge $8,000 and up for editing an average length book (70,000 words)—are not necessarily your best option.
Be cautious of internet listings advertising editorial services. Even the editors who belong to organizations and associations aren’t always skilled. The only requirement to belong to many of those organizations is to be able to afford the membership fee. Recently, a woman whose editing services came up quite high in the search engines had a description chock-full of misspellings and grammatical errors. Clearly, she’s great at mastering the art of ranking high in Google, but I wouldn’t wish her editing services on anyone.
Let’s be realistic though—if you can’t see the errors in your work, you don’t have any way of knowing if an editor like the one I described is a quality book editor or not. That’s why it’s a good idea to use the criteria laid out below as well as some beginning selection considerations.
Here are five primary things to look for:
• someone who has done book editing previously
• someone whose work is of a high standard (and not just because they say so)
• someone who will give you an exact quote
• someone who is willing to provide an editing sample so you can see how they work
• someone who is pleasant to work with and who doesn’t try to change your style
What Book Editors Should Do
–Track manuscript changes so you can see suggestions and then accept or reject those changes
–Recommend changes that will improve structure and organization of sentences
–Draw attention to the need for narrative synopsis, or provide suggestions for revision if overused
–Revise text to improve clarity and readability (suggest, but not incorporate unless the author desires)
–Have a commitment to maintaining your unique voice
–Keep an eye on the overall flow, aiming for creating a desire in the reader to keep turning pages
–Edit for redundancies, inconsistencies, and unnecessary language
–Provide sharp attention to the detail of language editing—grammar, usage, diction, syntax (and maintaining eccentricities of such which are intrinsic to the story)
–For fiction: reviewing character development and consistency
–Divide each chapter into specific and relatable section headers, if needed; reformatting existing divisions, if needed
–Watch the chapters and sub-sections to ensure connectivity and related content development to prevent disjointed concepts for nonfiction and/or story flow and plot for fiction
–Note any inconsistencies, incomplete explanations, or potential areas of confusion to make sure you’re communicating your story or message clearly
–Keep an eye out for point-of-view consistency and effectiveness
–Ensure consistent author style
–Correlate the parts of the manuscript—cross-references, story frame
When I edit, I put my all into the work. I want to be just as proud of the work as the author with whom I’m working. I work with the writer so I can understand what he or she is burning to say. I help that message come out in a way that is clear to the reader, while staying honest to the writer’s work.
Before I accept an editing job, I require a preliminary look at the first five to ten pages. By seeing those pages, I can determine the level of editing needed as well as determine if the project is one I’m willing to take on. I provide a full professional edit of that sample. This way the author, too, will have an idea of how I edit and can make a decision about whether or not to work with me. Here are my fees:
Preliminary Review (required)
Proofreading is the simplest form of editing. You can expect spelling and simple grammatical errors to be corrected.
Fee: five cents per word
A level up from proofreading, this level of editing will catch flaws in logic or flow, character inconsistencies, point-of-view issues, structural issues, etc.
Fee: eight cents per word
This level of editing ensures both proofreading and line editing are done, plus I take on issues such as pace & narrative stagnation, character development, stilted dialog, and much more. Chapters may be reorganized, sections may be cut, or the author may be asked to expand in some areas. Suggested rewrites are made where appropriate. (All changes are per author’s approval.)
A preliminary reading is done, then the full manuscript is edited twice. The final review of the manuscript is done after author has made changes, which means your manuscript is reviewed four times.
Fee: ten cents per word; capped at $3500 per book for books under 70,000 words. Authors will receive an exact bid for works over 70,000 words.
Please note: There will be a price increase on May 1, 2015, so I’d encourage you to secure your spot in the editing queue prior to that time to lock in prices. Also, the final price is given once the work is reviewed. If substantially more work is needed than on the average book, prices may be slightly higher.