In my previous article, So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor–Part One, I described what an editor does, and how he or she goes over your manuscript to give it the polish it needs to become a successful book. In this article, I’ll be discussing who you should hire to edit your manuscript.
I understand money is an issue for many of you. However, unless you’re one of the very few lucky writers who lands a deal with a traditional publisher, you’ll undoubtedly be investing your own money into producing your book. A professional editor will typically charge one to two cents per word. This means an 80,000 word manuscript may cost about $800 to $1600 to edit.
Why working with a professional editor matters
I know it’s a lot of money, and many of you are working with small budgets. Therefore, you may be tempted to take some shortcuts. My advice? Don’t do it! Asking your friends, your cousin, your spouse or your mom to edit your manuscript may seem like a good alternative. However, they would have to have experience in journalism, teaching , or other professional writing experience in order to be qualified for the job.
Now, let’s say you have a friend or family member with one or more of these qualifications. Does this mean you can ask them to edit your manuscript? Well, maybe. However, you need to be aware of another caveat. As I stated in my earlier article, your editor needs to be objective. Your mom may be a retired English teacher, but can she really be objective? If your mom is anything like my mother was, she may be overly critical. If so, can you handle it?
If a stranger is overly critical of your work you can fire them if you feel your working relationship is toxic. You won’t be spending Thanksgiving them. But if your mom is your editor, it can get really awkward. Ultimately you’ll have to decide for yourself if working with a friend or family member would be a good option or not.
Where to find a professional editor
I found my first editor through the small press publisher I was working with at the time. She was an absolute joy to work with, but then she decided to change careers. I found my current editor through a local writers association. If you know other authors ask them for a referral. Online author’s forums are another good place. Simply post the question.
Just as authors specialize in writing nonfiction or fiction, editors will also specialize in what kinds of manuscripts they edit. So if your manuscript is science fiction or fantasy, be sure to find an editor who has experience in editing science fiction and fantasy.
Writing a successful book takes time and money. If you want your book to have four and five star reader reviews, then you’ll need hire a professional book editor. Nothing will end your writing career faster than a poorly-written and edited book with bad reviews.
Please be sure to check out the final article in this series, So You Think You Don’t Need an Editor part 3.