Hi everyone, Consuelo here! Thought I’d post this piece on what you can—and should—expect in working with a professional editor. So if you’re on the hunt for an editor, and can’t tell what from who, these five tips can help you to determine the real deal:
- They should be referencing a legitimate style manual. There are various style manuals from which to choose, but I prefer The Chicago Manual of Style because this is what most publishing houses adhere to. So a good question to ask when interviewing an editor is, “What style manual do you use?”
- They should ask you some “rule vs. style” questions during the consultation or assessment. A legitimate editor will need to know what punctuation rules and styles you’re using throughout—or which you prefer— to ensure a consistent application during the edit. If you don’t know, various options can be offered to you out of a style manual (such as The Chicago Manual of Style, as mentioned above). Remember, an editor can offer you a more consistent edit if your rules and styles are clarified ahead of time, so this is something to keep in mind. (For more information about rule and style choices, please see my Eight Common Editing Questions PDF.)
- They typically charge at least .04 to .05 cents per word on a first-pass manuscript edit with a new client. If someone is charging you substantially less than this, they’re likely more of a novice or proofreader and not necessarily an editor. So it all depends on what you want to do with your material: If you just want to clean up your text a bit, a proofreader will be fine for this purpose, and they won’t cost you quite as much. But if you want to undergo publishing and/or submission preparation, you’ll need a professional editor, which will likely cost you more. (Please click here to view my fee schedule.)
- They can edit and develop your content while keeping your unique voice intact. An editor’s suggestions or rewrites should sound like you, and not somebody else (which is why you should ask for some sample editing as part of your assessment). This in mind, and with something as important as your book, be sure to choose an editor who is a match for your personality as well as the genre of your material. (For more information about yours truly, please visit my About page.)
- They’ll have the experience to format the remaining “pieces and parts” of your manuscript. Yes, the main chaptering is the foundation of your book . . . the most important part of your material. But what about the rest? The editor of your choosing should be well-versed in structuring the remaining parts of your manuscript, such as the Dedication, Display Quote, Acknowledgements section, About The Author, as well as the Bibliography or Endnotes portion. A good editor must also have some general knowledge of intellectual property so they can offer you a startup copyright template as well as some disclaimer examples (if needed). And don’t forget to ask for help with your back-cover copy, because this verbiage is responsible for grabbing the reader’s attention so they will purchase your book! (For more information about what my first-pass edits entail, please visit my Writers’ Corner or FAQ pages.)
Thanks for reading, and happy editing!