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No writer can reach their full potential without an editor that sharpens their words. A professional editor makes the difference between a bestseller and a flop, so you need to find the right person to work with. But how to find a book editor that is a perfect match for not only your manuscript but also you, the writer?
That’s precisely the question we’ll be answering.
Book editing is a long and layered process. So if you think you need to hire one person and be done with it, you’re in for a surprise! Professional editing for any book is handled by a team of book editors who perform different types of edits on your manuscript.
Unless you find a superhuman editor who can handle it all, you’ll have to decide what type of book editor you’re looking for. Most writers end up finding a team of book editors to work on their book, comprising four editors:
Alternatively, you can also find a book editor to undertake an editorial assessment for your book. This assessment gives you a letter that tells you the overall strengths and weaknesses of your book. This way, you can choose to improve on the key aspects of your book before you get a developmental editor to work on it.
But let’s not stray from our question: how to find a book editor to work on your manuscript?
There are five steps to finding the right book editor. Follow them well and you’ll have an editorial team that can refine your book to perfection!
We maintain that self-editing your book can’t replace a professional edit, but we certainly recommend it before you find an editor to work with. It’s always a good idea to polish your manuscript as much as possible before handing it to an editor. Among other things, this is because it helps to bring down your editing costs.
If there are fewer mistakes for the editors to fix, it means fewer coins out of your pocket! Here’s how you can find some amateur editors to help you with this:
Approach people within your immediate circles who have a background in language or literature. These can be people who teach English or read a lot of books, or even other writers! They won’t be as effective as a professional editor, but they’ll still find some mistakes for you to fix.
Once you’ve done several rounds of editing yourself, these edits will help you see your book from a new perspective. You may not agree with their opinions or get angry at them for suggesting something.
Use this as practice for when you work with an actual book editor(s). Trust us, you’ll need it!
Beta readers are an author’s support base that reviews a manuscript before it’s published. They give feedback about what they like and don’t like about your story.
Having beta readers study your draft is a great measure of quality control, but don’t expect any editing efforts on their part. They can give reviews on your work, but technical feedback is beyond their abilities.
Often, new self-publishing writers are working on a tiny budget. In such a situation, it might seem acceptable to cut corners and make do with these basic editing rounds. But as experts in the field of self-publishing, we’ll always recommend finding professional book editors.
Now that you’re wondering why you need to find a book editor, you need to know the full range of services that professional editors provide for you. This will help you determine the kind of editing help you need, so you can find the right editor for your book.
If self-editing and working with beta readers could replace book editing and proofreading, every self-published writer would choose it. So why do writers find professional editors to work on their manuscripts?
No matter the type of editing they undertake, all editors are instrumental in developing a book. Their key responsibilities are:
Understandably, these tasks take a lot of patience, persistence, and most importantly, expertise. This is why authors hire specialized book editors!
Your book is a labor of your sweat and tears, so you’re a bit too close to it to analyze it objectively. Your friends, family, and beta readers may provide some useful insights but they’re not trained to spot and eliminate errors like professional editors.
Most importantly, editors understand your readers because of their industry experience. This makes them indispensable in the self-publishing process!
Depending on their type, book editors undertake specific editing tasks:
Once you know which of these editors you need, you can narrow down your search.
If you were publishing traditionally, you wouldn’t need to know all this. You’d only have to land a book deal and be done with the whole thing! The publishing editor, hired by your publisher, would take care of all these editing steps.
But as a self-published writer, you must handle this yourself. Of course, you’re not alone! We’re here to guide you through these questions, like the one we approach now: where to find a book editor?
There are two clear options in front of you: author services and freelance editors. There are pros and cons to both, so let’s see how they operate.
Platforms like Reedsy, ServiceScape, and Freelancer offer you vast databases of editors. They inform you about the editors’ experience, skill sets, and niche areas. This helps you choose the right editor and assemble a team.
The downside to this is that it’s a hassle to filter through the overwhelming options and find one editor to work with. The reason people look for solutions on how to find a book editor is that it’s very hard to find the right one.
Author services employ a variety of editors from a diverse range of skills and specializations. All you have to do is put in the order, and they assemble the perfect team to work on your manuscript. The end result is a refined manuscript that is ready for typesetting!
An additional benefit of working with an author service is their all-inclusive packages. So if you choose to work with them for a range of self-publishing services, you can get a discount and save some bucks!
If you decide to go with an editing service, all you need to consider is reviews and recommendations. The other concerns in this list won’t be a headache for you, as the service will find the perfect book editor to work on your manuscript.
But if you’ve decided to find book editors on a freelancing platform, then you’ll have a bunch of things to consider. We’ve listed down some key considerations that can help you filter through the horde of editors you’ll find online.
If you have friends or acquaintances who are self-published writers, ask them about how they found an editor. Look up the editors they recommend and cross-check this with online reviews other people have left.
If you don’t have any connections with fellow writers, start building them! Networking is to a self-published writer what quality is to PaperTrue: absolutely indispensable.
Who knew that before finding a book editor, you’d have to find some writers to make friends with?! But on a more serious note, editors recommended by people you know obviously get a leg up. Their success with writers you know gives you solid evidence about their quality of work.
Online reviews make your job of finding an editor extremely easy. They tell you exactly how an editor works, so you have a clear idea of what a collaboration with them looks like.
This is probably the most important metric to consider. Editing experience is essential for a book editor to understand industry standards, trends, and audience expectations. Especially if you’re self-publishing for the first time, you need to work with an experienced editor.
Of course, any book editor with a decent number of reviews is bound to have considerable work experience. But if you want some top-tier editing, go for someone who has experience working as an editor in a publishing house.
Experience comes at a cost, but you’ll have to pay it if you want a polished result.
Even if an editor has great reviews and impressive experience, and is recommended by your closest friends, it won’t mean anything if they have no knowledge of your field. If you’re writing a book of nonfiction essays on jellyfish anatomy, you don’t want to end up with a children’s book editor, do you?
So, find an editor that knows your genre and your niche, inside out. This helps you avoid incorrect details and factual mistakes in your book.
Make sure you ask for a sample edit before you commit to a particular editor. Most book editors provide a short sample to showcase their work, providing a quote with it.
A sample edit tells you everything you need to know about the editor. The accuracy of their work and the comments they leave will tell you if they’re the right match for you.
Editing doesn’t come cheap, and for good reason. A book editor not only removes errors from your manuscript but also adds more value to it. Naturally, an editor with great reviews and years of experience will charge high for their services.
So, when you are wondering how to find a book editor, you need to make space for your budget. We recommend working with skilled but relatively less experienced book editors to save some precious bucks. Of course, the decision is never that easy.
If you’d like to read more about a book editor’s cost, head over to this article. We’ve discussed the cost of different steps under self-publishing, so book editing naturally features there in the first place.
We’ve made a checklist of questions to help you find the right book editor. You can use these questions to narrow down your search or prepare your own checklist based on this model!
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