Recently I wrote a blog post about what I heard at the San Francisco Writers Conference and one of the points I mentioned in the post is how important it is to have your manuscript edited. One of the questions that came to me in the comments section was, “Do you have any tips for finding an editor to hire?”
So I decided to ask Alan Rinzler for his opinion. Alan is one of the most well respected consulting editors in the business. You can read his bio at (www.alanrinzler.com) because his credentials would fill a blog post by themselves. As usual, Alan offers six very helpful tips for how to find the best editor for your book whether you use an independent editor or work with one of the Author Solutions imprints.
1. A careful search. Many editors today have their own website and some have blogs, too. Look in the Acknowledgement pages of books you like and are similar to your own. Ask authors you know who they’ve worked with, or meet editors at writers conferences, workshops, and trainings. Also, be sure to understand the difference between copy editors who correct spelling and punctuation, and developmental editors who work with core issues like story, characterization, structure — the big stuff. Developmental editors are more expensive, so if you get a price of $25/hour or anything “by the word”, that’s not a professional level developmental editor.
2. Track Record. Has this editor edited books that have succeeded, you’ve read, you find on your shelf. Having worked with best-selling authors you admire is essential.
3. Accessibility. Can you get in touch with this editor easily, at a website or blog? Does he or she respond quickly or is there a long delay. Rapid response is important; delays can predict a frustrating experience down the road.
4. Compatibility. Meet in person if possible, talk on the phone, or Skype so you can get better acquainted. Find someone you respect and feel comfortable with. If this individual is over-bearing, non communicative, or an otherwise bad fit, seek elsewhere. Don’t worry too much about genre, since in my opinion, a good editor can work in nearly any category.
5. Clear financial terms and scheduling. Make sure you have an accurate estimate with a cap that can’t be exceeded, and a precise schedule for the stages and dates of the work to be done.
6. Escape clause. If it doesn’t go well after a while, part of the original agreement should provide for a fair separation with specific expectations and obligations.