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        How to Hire a Book Editor in 5 Practical Steps

        • calenderApr 04, 2022
        • calender 6 min read

        Writers have many doubts about how to hire a book editor. Do you need to hire a professional editor in the first place? When should you look for one? Where can you find the best book editor to for hire, and are they worth the expense?

        In this article, we’ve listed all the important things you need to know while hiring a book editor.

        What is a book editor?

        A book editor is a professional trained in the task of spotting errors in your manuscript and giving additional feedback on how it can be improved. Book editors can be employed by publishing firms, can be freelancers, or work with an author service company.

        Working with a book editor is a tricky endeavor and it can go the wrong way very easily, if you’re not careful about hiring the right one. To be honest, the logistical part of the “how to hire a book editor” question is easier to handle. You read articles, you explore your options, and eventually, you find someone to work with.

        But there’s more to working with an editor. As a writer, you’re attached to your book. Beyond the sheer effort you have poured into it, the book has immense sentimental value. So when a book editor starts knocking down the precious palace it took years for you to build, you’re bound to get angry!

        And this is where the problem lies. In order to avoid hurt feelings, unnecessary irritation, and a failed writer-editor partnership, you need to account for these aspects of hiring a book editor as well.

        For now, let’s address the logistical side of how to hire a book editor.

        Is it worth hiring a professional editor?

        It’s easy to imagine that while self-publishing your novel, self-editing is an acceptable option. However, this works out only in theory. You have neither the training nor the objectivity to edit your own manuscript effectively, so self-editing does not work. Here’s a quick guide to the book editing and proofreading process, in case you’d like to read more.

        So if you’re writing a novel, you may imagine that you can ask friends and family to review it for you. They may catch a plot hole or two, comment about a character here and there, but that is about it. These people don’t have the expertise and experience that makes a professional novel editor invaluable.

        A fiction editor knows the genre conventions of romance and mystery. They know the audience expectations and industry standards for fantasy, thriller, and children’s books. Based on this knowledge, a professional novel editor’s insights are far superior to any beta reader’s opinion on your manuscript.

        Plus, editing is much more than just catching spelling mistakes and plot holes! As you’ll soon discover, you won’t be hiring an experienced professional editor for your book, you’ll be hiring a whole team of them.

        How to hire a book editor

        In the five steps below, we’ll tell you how to hire an editor for your book when you have nothing but a freshly written manuscript in hand. From selecting what kind of editor your novel requires to actually working with a fiction editor, we’re covering your entire journey.

        1. Decide what kind of book editor you need to hire

        Book editing and proofreading is a long process that consists of multiple checks for different issues in the manuscript. There are five essential editing tasks, and individual editors often specialize in one or a couple of these.

        1. Editorial assessment: An editor surveys your book and gives you their feedback in the form of a detailed letter, informing you about the kinds of editors you require.
        2. Developmental editing: This edit surveys the broad elements of your book, telling you which parts of your book work and which ones don’t.
        3. Copy editing: The copy editor scrutinizes your pages and paragraphs to remove all inconsistencies, grammar mistakes, and punctuation errors.
        4. Line editing: The line editor takes a look at your style and word choice, focusing on the tone and emotion in your writing. Editors often offer this along with copy editing.
        5. Proofreading: This is the final overview of your work, removing all remaining errors from your book. A round of proofreading is crucial before publishing your book. If you’d like to read more about how proofreading changed modern publishing, visit this page.

        If you want to know when you should hire a book editor, you first need to find out the kind of editor you require. In case you’re still in the development stage and need a second opinion on your ideas (and the rudimentary stages of their execution), you will have to approach a developmental editor.

        However, if you need someone to go through your paragraphs to remove mistakes and inconsistencies, then you need the help of a copy editor. The editorial assessment gives you some perspective on this decision, so it’s always recommended to have it done.

        2. Hire a novel editor at the right time

        The work of the developmental editor comes before that of the copy editor and the proofreader, so naturally, you need to hire a developmental editor much earlier. However, while hiring a developmental editor, you also need to make sure that your ideas aren’t half-baked.

        The most common problem with new writers is that they hire a professional editor too soon, not comprehending what falls under the editor’s purview. It’s understandable to consult a developmental editor while finalizing the broader elements of your book, but you need to understand that in the end, the writer has to put in the work and actually write their book.

        Many new writers also make the mistake of not reviewing their finished draft before sending it to the editor. This results in the editor having too many issues to sift through, affecting the nature of their work and their relationship with you. Make sure to review your draft multiple times before you hire a professional editor.

        Reviewing your draft yourself also helps lower your costs. Remember: the denser your edits, the higher the cost! So, what is the right time to hire an editor?

        While you need to ensure that your manuscript is ready for the editor’s eye, you also need to keep in mind that reputed, reliable editors are almost always booked. You need to book them a few months in advance to ensure that your manuscript gets reviewed and edited in due time.

        So, your draft needs to go through a few rudimentary edits before you send it for editing, but you also need to book editors in advance. While hiring an editor, you have to aim for the fine balance between these two things.

        3. Find book editors online

        As a self-published author, it is unlikely that you can access (or afford) established editors in the genre of your book. The names that you read on popular titles are almost always associated with a publishing house, the very thing you’re trying to avoid by self-publishing.

        Fortunately, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the established system under self-publishing. You can hire a team of freelance editors to edit and proofread your manuscript, or hire an editing firm to do the same.

        Freelance editors

        You can find a book editor for hire on platforms like ServiceScape. These sites feature a large number of freelance editors from which you can assemble your editing team. You’ll need to check recommendations and ask for sample edits while selecting each individual editor for your specific editing and proofreading requirements.

        You should hire a novel editor that has worked in your particular niche. For example, the author J. Thorn specializes in dark fantasy. He works as a developmental editor and writing coach for other authors with similar interests, so if your novel is a work of horror or dark fantasy, he may be a potential editor for you to work with.

        The problem here is that experienced editors are often booked for months, so it might be difficult to find a schedule that works for both parties. However, if an editor is busy or somehow isn’t the best choice for you, they might know which other editor can be the right fit. So, contacting even one professional novel editor can help you start your process of hiring an editor.

        You can also get in touch with other writers whose genre and writing style is similar to your own. Make use of your network in the writing community, especially on social media sites like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, where it is much easier to find leads. Other than the sites mentioned above, Upwork and Fiverr are also great places to look for freelance editors.

        Problems with hiring a team of freelance editors

        Keep in mind that working with a number of different people might hike your editing costs. Moreover, experience and proven results come with an added cost, so finding a seasoned editor through this method will cost you more. If you can’t afford to spend a fortune on book editing, hiring an editing service might be the best option for you.

        You need to know that it can be a whole task and a half to choose the right people out of the large (sometimes daunting) number of editors featured on various websites. You also need to look at sample edits to ensure that your working style and work ethic matches that of your editor. It takes time and effort to screen the available options and select the right team to edit your manuscript.

        For writers who are new to self-publishing, this process brings a lot of anxiety and stress. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with the wrong people, or spending money on a botched editing job.

        Editing companies

        Editing firms help you avoid unnecessary complications, simplifying the book editing process. Author services not only handle all necessary editing tasks with skill and coordination, but also ensure a quick and timely completion of the edits.

        These firms have years of experience working in the publishing industry, due to which they are well informed about the readership. They edit your document with your reader in mind, adding more value to your book.

        More importantly, editing companies are also familiar with the trends and standards in the publishing industry. So, they can bring your book to the level at which it can compete with traditionally published books.

        Plus, most of these companies offer lower prices on combined editing processes and discount offers from time to time, bringing down your editing costs by a significant margin. If you’re new to self-publishing, this might be the most pocket-friendly and stress-free option for you.

        Here’s a comprehensive list of the best editing and proofreading services that you can refer to while making your decision.

        Also read: Book Proofreading 101: The Beginner’s Guide

        4. Ask for a sample edit

        Most editors should be alright with offering a free sample edit before you hire them. However, if someone asks you to pay for a sample, don’t hesitate. Like all other professions, editing requires hard work, so you should pay the editor for their time and effort.

        A sample edit tells you the editor’s working style, their degree of ruthlessness, and their expertise. This is a glimpse into what it looks like to work with this editor, so it helps you choose better.

        If there are issues in this edit, clearly you’re not going to be happy with this editor. If there are glaring errors they failed to spot or unnecessary harshness in their feedback, these are clear indicators for you to keep looking for a better option.

        The right book editor for you is the one who works according to your requests and respects your individual voice. They possess the skills to spot the words that aren’t working, and the tact of telling you why. If a novel editor cannot manage these basic tasks, they’re not the person to handle editing for your manuscript.

        5. Give clear instructions

        Learning about how to hire a book editor requires you to know yourself as a writer. If your cookbook contains a recipe you copied out from your grandma’s old diary, let your editor know. If you have a problem with someone rearranging your sentence structure randomly, tell your editor that.

        In order to avoid irritation and disappointment, give clear instructions to the book editor you hire. Be direct in the brief, so the book editor can work accordingly. Trust us, this makes for a much healthier working relationship!

        Things to remember when hiring a professional editor:

        1. Check what kinds of editing your manuscript requires.
        2. Review the manuscript a few times yourself before sending it to a book editor.
        3. Start early on booking an appointment with a reputed editor.
        4. Ask for sample edits and check recommendations.
        5. Give clear instructions to help the editor work better.


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        Prasanna Linkedin

        Prasanna is on a little break from academia and spends his time compiling fiction writing tips. He enjoys poetry, mythology, and drawing lotuses on any surface he can find.

        One comment on “How to Hire a Book Editor in 5 Practical Steps

        1. David says:

          Self-publishing your baby is a long arduous journey. Like any other trip, it begins one step at a time.

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