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 working with a 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 for their own editorial processes.
- They typically charge at least .04 to .06 cents per word on a first-pass edit with a new client. If someone is charging you substantially less per word on a first-pass, they’re likely more of a “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 should ask you some “rule vs. style” questions during the initial consultation or assessment. For instance, they’ll need to know what number rule you’re applying when you call out random numbers within your text. They may also inquire as to what comma styles you’re applying throughout, particularly where your listing formats are concerned. If you don’t know, they should offer you various options out of a style manual such as The Chicago Manual of Style. Remember, an editor can offer you a more consistent edit (or sample 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 can edit and develop your content while keeping your unique voice intact. In other words, an editor’s suggestions or rewrites should sound like you, and not somebody else (which is why it’s good to ask for some sample editing as part of your assessment or proposal). This in mind, and with something as important as your book, the editor you choose needs to be a match for your personality as well as the genre of your material. So be sure to look around for the individual who is just right for you! (For more information about my editorial background and process, please visit my FAQ or Writers’ Corner pages.)
- They’ll have the experience to address every aspect of the editorial process with you, including all the “pieces and parts” of your manuscript. For example, an editor usually knows the difference between something like an Endnotes section vs. a Bibliography, and should be able to determine if this information is needed at the close of your book. A good editor must also have some general knowledge regarding intellectual property and may be able to offer you a startup copyright template as well as some disclaimer examples (if needed). In addition, most editors are well-versed in bringing together the remaining parts of a manuscript, in the right order, to include the Dedication, Display Quote, Acknowledgements area, and the About The Author section at the back of the book. And don’t forget to ask for help with your back-cover copy as well! (For more information about what my first-pass edits entail, please visit my Writers’ Corner page.)
Thanks for reading, and happy editing!