How I Found the Right Editor

It was more than luck. Creating a book takes a team. I spoke about how I chose my cover artist. How I found the right editor for My Soul to Keep was to search for the right one several months before I needed one. It took some work, some due diligence, and some patience. But it paid off.

Image of a manuscript page with lots of edits handwritten with a red pen an illustration for how I found the right editor.

Which Type?

The first step in my journey to find the right editor was to research the different types of editors. It can get confusing. When you search the internet there are folks who say there are four types, five types, nine types, and more! But for most freelancers, it boils down to four general types.

  1. Developmental editors who work with you on the structure and arc of the story.
  2. Copy editors examine your finished story for consistency, grammar, and flow.
  3. Line editors address the writing style, language, and content on a sentence level.
  4. Proofreaders are the nit-pickers who look for typos and misplaced words or punctuation.

Each writer’s needs, every novel’s needs, are different. I had a mentor who had helped me with developing the story. But my weaknesses were grammar and consistency. So I needed a copy editor. But there are hundreds of thousands of editors out there.

Where Do You Find Editors

I went to trusted sources. Friends who write and publish in the same genre gave me names. Writing websites I follow had lists of editors. Even professional author groups I belong to had lists. I learned that there’s a professional association, Editorial Freelancers Association. I wrote down a list of more than twenty names. Did I refuse to write down names of people who didn’t belong to the Association? No. I did my due diligence. But members of the EFA ranked a little higher than editors who did not belong to a professional association.

First, every name had to have a website associated with it. If there wasn’t a website where I could learn about the editor, the name got scratched off my list. I paid attention to bios, testimonials, what they said they could do, turn around times, and fees. Did the editor have any experience, an understanding of my genre? Did I like the personality that came across on the website? What did his or her clients say about working with that editor? Were there examples? Did I have a personal relationship with any of their clients? Did I know their clients by reputation? If I knew none of their clients, I looked for them on Amazon and other booksellers.

Narrowing down the list

I removed the least expensive person and the most expensive person. That left ten editors on my list.

I sent an email to each of the editors. In my email, I introduced myself and gave a short blurb of My Soul to Keep, it’s length and genre. I asked if I could send them some pages and get a sample edit. For me, the sample edit was crucial. I wanted to see their work in action.

After I sent the email, I waited. Anyone who refused to do sample edits got marked off the list. If I got no reply after two weeks, I sent a follow-up email assuming that my original request ended up in the spam folder. One reply was rude enough that that person got crossed off the list and got an earful via email.

Reviewing the Sample Edits

I sent the pages immediately with a request for an approximate turn around time. All editors who accepted sample pages were prompt and respectful. From the twenty-page sample, I was able to tell a lot. Editors who did not get my story were evident by the changes they suggested. At least one editor missed deliberate “mistakes” I put in the sample. That one got marked off. And there were editors whose personality came across as a little too critical or snarky. They got crossed off the list, too. Now my list contained two strong editors. I would have done well choosing either of them.

The Right Editor

My final choice came down to who I thought would work best for this novel. Not only do I have no regrets, I am very happy with my choice. She respected my writing style and voice. She thought of things I hadn’t considered. Consistency and grammar errors were corrected. She made my story stronger.

How I found the right editor for my novel, My Soul to Keep

Creating a book isn’t a one-person job. Artist, writer, editors, and printers each have a role. Every book needs at least one of each. Second only to the writer, is the editor. Choosing an editor is both a professional and personal decision. Taking the time to make a professional search was how I found the right editor for my book.

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