Friday, February 6, 2009

What to Expect When You're Expecting to Hire an Editor (Part II)

Thanks to an insane February schedule and a fantastic group of clients who have me booked until April, I've found myself offering a lot of advice and editor referrals this month. The advice falls into two main categories: how to find an editor and how to choose the editor who is right for you.

How to Find an Editor
I recommend three methods - you'll likely get the best results from using some combination of them.

1. Put up an ad. There are lots of websites where you can place an ad for an editor. Some will charge you fees; some won't. You can try,, or to name a few, but I honestly recommend you take the easy route: It's free for you and your editor, and TONS of quality freelancers regularly use craigslist listings to connect with potential clients. Beware of a few things if you do place an ad:
(a) You'll get some spam. Easy to delete.
(b) You will get LOTS of responses. Use some of the tips in Part III of this series of posts for sorting through the e-mails and picking the best of the batch.
(c) You'll likely be contacted by scam publishers and predatory fake agents. More on this later, but for now, just hit delete on any e-mail response to a craigslist ad from anyone who claims to be a publisher or agent. The end.

2. Ask your writer's group (and if you don't belong to one yet, join one!). Other writers will be some of your best sources for finding a quality freelance editor. Ask around. If you don't belong to a group yet, Yahoo! has some great groups you can join. (My personal favorites include the Writing and Publishing group and the Fiction that Sells group.)

3. Google. I hesitate to recommend this one to anyone but the most committed of researchers. Searching for a good manuscript editor online takes some perseverance - most of the top results for any given search will be the large services I warn about below. That said, I recently surveyed all of the clients I've worked with in the last five years, and, to my surprise, found that more than a few said they'd found me through a google search. Now, the highest I can find my site without actually typing in "Murdock Editing" is about the 13th page in, so...grain of salt.

1. Pick the first ad that pops up. Finding the right editor takes research - trust me, it's worth your time.

2. Use a big faceless service. I'm not going to name names, but you can find some of the offenders yourself by taking a scroll through the Preditors and Editors database. Many of these larger, corporate-looking editorial services - the ones that have no actual editor name and face behind them - farm out your work to people with very little to no experience in publishing who are working for next-to-nothing and have no real investment in your success. Some hire quality editors - but it's a crapshoot - you'll have no way of knowing whether your editor is a publishing pro or a college student trying to earn a little extra beer money (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

3. Choose a "literary agent" who also charges fees for editorial work. There are many out there with a mission to educate writers about this scam - start at Preditors and Editors or Writer Beware. Basically it comes down to this - no legitimate literary agent will ever charge you for anything upfront (except maybe incidentals like printing and mailing supplies - but that's at smaller agencies and fairly rare). If an "agent" is offering to edit your work for a fee, run.

Stay tuned for Part III of What to Expect When You're Expecting to Hire an Editor:
III: How to choose an editor.

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