Monday, May 9, 2016

Tips for Finding a Reputable Freelance Editor

Whether you've just finished your first draft or you're days away from jumping into the query trenches, at some point during this journey, you'll have the need for an editor. Reasons for needing a professional editor is another post for another time, but suffice it to say, everyone needs an editor. And contrary to popular belief, you cannot edit your own work. Nor can your husband, wife, significant other, sister, best friend, high school English teacher, or anyone else who is close to you. While their intentions may be pure, chances are good they won't be 100% honest with you because they won't want to hurt your feelings. And let's face it -- no writer can grow without honest, helpful feedback. So, you need a professional editor :)

The process of finding an editor can be daunting. Where do you even begin? The first step is to build a list of potential editors, much like you'd build a list of agents you'd want to query. But, how do you find an editor? Better yet, how do you find a good one?

  • Ask for Referrals -- Word of mouth is always the best marketing tool. Ask friends and/or fellow writers for recommendations. 
  • This Blog! -- A lot of the super talented PitchWars Mentors are also freelance editors. Check out their websites (links on the sidebar) and see if any of them fit your needs. 
  • Twitter -- A majority of freelance editors will advertise their services on Twitter, using the most common hashtags: #amwriting #amediting #Editor #editing #editingfiction. Some editors will even advertise on the popular contest hashtags: #PitchWars #PitMad #AdPit, etc. 
  • Facebook -- If you type "fiction editors" into the search bar, you'll get a whole list of groups and pages where you can connect with editors. 
  • Google -- Simply Googling "fiction editors" will give you so many options, you'll get lost in all the results.
  • Craigslist -- This is probably a long shot, but sometimes you can find editors there. 

All right, so now that you've got a list of potential editors, it's time to research them. You wouldn't send your book baby off to an agent or publisher without first knowing a bit about them and their qualifications, right? It's exactly the same with a freelance editor -- only now you have the added element of handing over your hard earned cash, too.

1. Online Presence -- Look over their website. (Do they even have a website?) Do they have rates listed? Services offered? Testimonials? Qualifications? Social media links? Check them out on Twitter and Facebook. Do they conduct themselves in a professional manner? Do they share things or post things that make you uncomfortable? If so, they're probably not a good fit for you.

2. Qualifications -- Ask for a resume. See what sort of experience they have. Do they have any formal training? College? Working at a publisher? Working within an agency? Any prior jobs that utilized editorial skills? A record of editing / mentoring writers who have then gone on to find agents, publishers, win awards? If their only experience is beta reading for friends, proceed with caution.

3. References --  Ask for a list of clients they've edited for in the past. Reach out to those authors. Ask them about their experiences, and whether they have or would hire the editor again in the future. If any of the books the editor has edited have been published, go check them out on Amazon. Use the "Look Inside" feature to see the quality of editing; read the reviews to see if readers are commenting on poor editing.

4. Free Sample -- Most reputable editors will offer a "free sample," usually the first 5 or 10 pages. This allows you to see how the editor works and gauge if s/he will be a good fit for you and your work.

5. Specialties -- Editors generally have certain genres they prefer to edit. Ask what those genres are. You don't want to inadvertently hire an erotica editor for your YA or vice versa.

6. Services Offered vs. Needs -- If you're looking for a deep content edit, you don't want to hire an editor who specializes in copy edits. Be sure you know what you need / want and then find an editor who can provide those services.

7. Prices -- Every editor charges different rates. Some charge per word. Others per page. Others by the hour. There's no law or rule that regulates how much an editor should charge, however, the Editorial Freelancers Association is a good place to start looking at what the going rates are. If an editor charges way below or way above these rates, you may want to ask why. And, obviously, you'll want to find an editor who fits within your budget. Just remember: You always get what you pay for!

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you find an editor you're excited to work with, someone you can see becoming a friend in your journey toward publication. Is there anything else you do when searching for an editor? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

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