Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What to Expect When You're Expecting to Hire an Editor: Part III

Once you've gotten past Part II - How to Find an Editor, it's time to narrow it do to the one, the only - YOUR FREELANCE EDITOR.
How to Choose an Editor
There are a lot of things you should consider when hiring an editor, including, but not limited to:
  • Experience/skill level/past successes (How did your editor become an editor? Who has he or she worked with?)
  • Pricing structure/total cost (Make sure you're getting what you're paying for!)
  • Personality (Do you click?)
  • Areas of expertise (Does the editor know your genre? If your book is too close in plot to another book on the market, would the editor notice?)
  • Business philosophy (Can you ask questions after the edit is complete? How accesable is the editor before/during/after the edit or eval is complete? Is this a person you can count on?)
The process can certainly be confusing, but following the steps below should keep you on the right track.
1. Go with your gut. For a full-length book, you'll likely be working with an editor for at least a few weeks; I've worked with some of my writers over several years and several books. The editing and evaluation process works best and will be the most valuable to you if you can develop a friendly, easy relationship with your editor. Early conversation - whether by e-mail or phone - should leave you feeling confident that you're working with someone who wants to help you succeed. If you don't feel comfortable with one editor, move on to another.
 2. Get a second opinion. I always recommend that writers ask for references, particularly when they're looking for an editor to perform a good deal of work (line edits, developmental editing, extensive copyediting, manuscript evaluations and critiques, etc.). Go ahead and ask an editor if you can talk to one of his or her previous clients - they'll be able to give you unique insight into the process and the value of the services you're considering. 
3. Do your research. Google the editor's name and/or business name. Look for any complaints or warnings other writers may have published online. At the very least, ask the editor about any troubling posts. Of course, Google has its limitations - don't worry too much if you find that your editor's name brings up a whole cast of strange characters - there are at least 5 other Lindsay Murdocks that pop up on my GoogleAlerts - one of them actually lives only a few towns over!
Also, although I've mentioned it before, I have to reiterate - check any editor you're considering hiring against the Preditors and Editors database. Not all freelance editors are listed there - but if an editor does have complaints against him or her, chances are those complaints are documented on this site.
4. Take a taste. When you order an expensive bottle of wine at a restaurant, the server will have you take a sip before serving the rest of the bottle, just to make sure you like it. An editor should do the the same - offering you a sample edit so you can see precisely what you're getting for your money. I offer a free ten page sample edit or evaluation to ALL potential clients. Most editors I know will do the same.  
5. Get it in Writing. Some editors use written contracts, some don't. At the very least, get a detailed description of what you're getting for your money, what your options are, what deliverables you can expect when, how much it's going to cost, and when payments are due. Ask questions and get answers. Remember, your editor is a professional who will be working for you.
BONUS: Be nice, and expect the same from your editor. We're all in this together!
Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. I've worked with the same free-lance editor for all 3 of my "Rashi's Daughters" books, even though the first was self-published and Plume picked up the other two. We have a great relationship, but I think a true test is if the editor interviews the writer as if the editor was doing the hiring. Although I was paying her, she was determined only to work with a compatible author whose work she admired.