Since writing is such a personal act, editing becomes personal. When hiring a developmental/content editor, you need to make sure you find the right one for you. It can be difficult to navigate the sea of editors available online, so here are a few tips to help.
The first step is knowing what you want. Are you looking for big picture ideas or grammar corrections (don’t ask me how many people don’t know the difference!)?
If you are looking for big picture editors you want a developmental or content editor. If you want grammar and spelling corrections you want a copyeditor.
Next, think about your budget. Editors aren’t cheap, they are definitely an investment! But, as I have said before, editing is necessary for every single book (no exceptions!). If you are on a tight budget, some editors offer cheaper options such as manuscript assessments or less in-depth editing.
Now, on to how to pick the perfect editor for you! Let’s start with the obvious:
Look for someone credible. Of course! (You probably think I am a genius right now for coming up with something so revolutionary!) Yes it is obvious, but it still needs to be said. Check credible organizations in your area; many of them have lists of freelance editors. Make sure to look at resumes and recommendations. You don’t want a beta reader masquerading as an editor.
Look for someone with experience in your genre. Every editor has inclinations to a certain type of genre. You want to make sure that the editor has experience with your specific type of writing.
On a basic level, if you write in say romance, you want your editor to enjoy that type of book. But there is more to it than that. Every genre has different tropes and expectations.
You want to make sure the editor knows what the reader expects and knows when you are subverting expectations or feeding into them.
Look for someone you respect. Your editor is about to break your heart. When you get your manuscript back and it is full of red marks, you will want to cry.
If you don’t respect your editor you’ll be tempted to throw their edits in the trash (or hit delete). You are paying them for their advice, so make sure you will trust their advice.
Look for someone you like. This seems obvious right? But it is not. Yes, you want someone professional, someone with opinions you respect, but you also want someone you can talk to. Your editor is almost like your book’s therapist.
You want to make sure you feel comfortable talking with them and asking them follow up questions. There will be tons of emails back and forth; there needs to be a good rapport.
Don’t go with the first editor you find. Look around! The person at the top of the Google search isn’t necessarily the right editor for you. Every editor has a different style, different experience, and (importantly) different rates.
Don’t be afraid to shop around! Get a feel for the editor, compare prices, and do your research. Yes, this will take time, but you will be handing them your book, your baby (and plenty of money), you want to be sure you found the right editor.
One final tip: don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak up! If you are on a deadline, ask about their availability. If you are unsure of them, ask for a sample edit of a few pages or a chapter (many editors will do this).
Do you want them to pay special attention to a certain section? Tell them. If you question one of their edits, ask for their reasoning behind it (their feelings won’t be hurt, they’ll be all too happy to explain it to you).
Authors have relationships with their editors, and as with all relationships: communication is key. Make sure you are comfortable with your editor, and don’t be afraid to date around!