Selecting The Right Editor


Let’s be honest. In the world of self-publishing, there are authors who publish books that are nowhere near ready. (Insert lectures here about structure, plot holes, lack of character development, and the need to go back to junior high school due to the lack of basic writing skills.) However, there are also tons of editors that are equally unqualified to offer services. I can’t tell you how many times I have hired a highly-recommended editor only to bang my head against the wall later and fix his obvious mistakes. (Sorry, if I am paying someone, I expect to not see transposed words, such as “saw she” when it should clearly be “she saw”.)

Indie editors are just like Indie writers—some are qualified, some are not. Editors are also human and thus make mistakes, even though that goes against their job description. So, what should you do to make sure you get the best results possible?

Heavily Screen An Editor Before Entering Into A Contract

This goes beyond asking for credentials. Seriously, I’ve seen English majors who still confuse there and their. A degree, or lack thereof, is not an indicator of a good editor. Read a book the person edited. Once you have done that, if you still consider that person a candidate, ask the author for a recommendation. There are people out there that will tell you they edited for me, and while that is true, what they won’t tell you is that I had my book reedited later, or that I found a ton of errors that they missed, or that they actually introduced errors. Thus, recommendations from the author are key.

If you still feel good about the person, send him a sample of your work, with errors, and ask him to take a pass at it. This allows you to see how the person works.

*Great errors to include when testing an editor:
Use weather instead of whether.
Use though when it should be through.
Use realty when you meant reality.
Use loose vs. lose.
Use lay when you should use lie.
Confuse further and farther.
Also, slip in an error that a layman would miss. For example, some of my characters are music fanatics. An editor missed that I typed Sgt. Pepper instead of Sgt. Pepper’s when referring to The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That mistake makes me, and my character, look clueless.
*Be sure that you know the proper usage before assuming the editor is wrong and you are correct.

Other things to look for:
Did your sentences get rewritten? Were you okay with that?
Was something done that compromised your style?
Above all, make sure that the editor will make changes in a way that are annotated so that you can review the changes. Never take an edited document as being gospel and publish it blindly.

Now that you have found your editor, go ahead and send off that book. Then come back here next week when I talk about the next step. No, I don’t mean formatting. I’m talking about self-editing. As an Indie, you are responsible for everything, even the quality of work for hire. Next week we will talk about how to self-edit. Even if you use an editor, there is no escape from having to review the final document yourself.

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  1. Great post! A lot of authors would never know to screen an editor and there are so many out there claiming to be editors. I really think they think they are because they’re good with punctuation or grammar, but as you point out, a lot more goes into the process.

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