Dear Exalted Editors,
So I've taken a look at my grammar and my formatting. I'm even (a little) less scared of editors than I used to be. Now I'd like to know how I go about finding the right editor for me!
There are so many choices out there. I can pay for a one-on-one session with an editor at a conference I'm attending, or search the internet, or even get in touch with one of you! Can you suggest any resources for locating good editors?
Next question: once I've found an editor (and I've met some great ones through this site already), how do I know if he or she is right for me? Some of these editing services can get kind of pricey, and I'm always worried about shady dealings on the Internet. Also, should I use different editors for different projects?
Signed, Desperately Seeking Revision
Maryann: First of all, you should know that there are differences in editors. The ones you might meet at a conference are usually acquisition editors. They are the ones that will hopefully buy your wonderful book once it is ready to go out into the marketplace. You pay a fee for the right to pitch your book to them. Some conferences charge an extra fee for the session with the editor, other cons have that fee built in to the overall conference fee. Before you get to that point, however, your book should go through an edit for content and then another one for copy editing, which is primarily proofing the manuscript for typos, grammar and spelling errors. Some editors are better at one than the other. My suggestion in deciding on one to work with is to ask for references. Most editors have them, and some of my clients have given me written references that are on my website.
Fees vary, and some editors are awfully proud of their work. In some cases, that is justified because of a wide range of experience, but there are always the few out there ready to take advantage of an eager writer. I suggest you have conversations with a prospective editor to determine his or her qualifications, approach to the editing process, and to see if you click on a personal level. Going through the editing process can get emotional at times, and you need to work with someone who understands that and can be responsive to you.
Lillie: As Maryann suggested, checking editors' references and asking for referrals from other writers are two good ways to find editors. However, just because an editor was right for another writer doesn't mean she's right for you and your book. I recommend you talk (in person or by phone) with two or three prospective editors. You want to know that the editor has the technical skills you need, that she is familiar with your genre, that she will provide the kind and level of editing you want, and that her price is affordable for you. Most importantly, though, you want to be sure that you and the editor are comfortable with each other and that she will improve your writing without destroying your voice. I've covered these points in more detail in Working with a Professional Editor.
Many editors offer a free sample edit. I will edit the first few pages of a manuscript at no charge. You can make sure I'm doing what you expect, and I can determine how much work is involved to quote you a price. Ask editors you are considering whether they will give a sample of their work.
The right editor will make your work sound like you—only better.
Emma Larkins has a dream: to make a living as a published author. Her publication credits include a story titled Midsummer Disc Dreams in the outdoor literary magazine, In the Mist, and an article called The Writer's Passion on the Feminine Aspects website. For more information, check out her blog and her website.