If this is your first time hiring a professional editor, I'm sure you have questions. It's expected. There is a lot of information out there and some of it can be confusing. Here are answers to the most common questions I hear about working with a professional editor.
What exactly does an editor do?
That depends on the editor. There are different kinds of editing: developmental, line, copy, proof.
Here's the thing: I do all of them. At a traditional publishing house, each of these might be handled by a different editor. A lot of editors specialize in one or two of these editorial tasks, but to get the benefit of all of them, you'd need to hire several people. I do all of them.
In addition, I’m a compulsive fact-checker. I will automatically research something that sends up a red flag, and I may ask you to verify it, since accuracy is ultimately the responsibility of the author.
Beyond all the technical things a good editor does, I think an editor's most valuable contributions to the process of birthing a book are support, insight, perspective, encouragement, even inspiration. By bringing a new set of eyes to an author's work, a good editor helps the author realize and achieve--and often expand or fine-tune--their original vision for their book. This is what constantly astonishes my clients and students--the light turns on, and they bloom. They exceed what they thought they could do; their books become what they dreamed they would be.
What type of editorial services do you offer?
Editing: I offer developmental*, line, and copy editing. Proofreading as a final step is an inherent part of the process, but I don't offer only proofreading on most projects (a simple check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, without going any deeper). I edit fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children's books for authors who plan to use an indie publisher, to self-publish, or to look for a traditional publisher.
Writing: Writing is inseparable from editing; it's part of the process. I will often suggest a rewrite of a sentence or a paragraph. I am not a ghostwriter; however, I will consider writing projects on a case-by-case basis.
Fact-checking: I am compulsive about fact-checking. Everything must be accurate in order to be credible. If something tugs at me as being likely or even possibly inaccurate or untrue, I will either track it down myself, or ask you to do it, or both (usually both). This is crucial in any genre. Be aware that I am NOT doing your fact-checking for you, only coming along behind to confirm that you have already done it, and to shore up a few things you may have missed. The accuracy of any book is ultimately the responsibility of the author.
Manuscript evaluation: A full read of your book and feedback on its strengths, weaknesses, questions, and my suggestions.
Blogpost editing: Contact me.
Indexing: Sometimes, but not often. I can index nonfiction books, but I am very particular about which indexing projects I accept, usually only one per year, if any. If I am editing your nonfiction book and it requires an index, I will consider it, or I may recommend that you hire an independent indexer.
*If you have a serious structural problem or plot difficulty that you and I cannot resolve together, I might recommend that you consult another developmental editor before proceeding with me in the other aspects of editing.
How do I know if I'm ready to hire an editor?
There are two basic questions to help you decide if you are ready to hire an editor.
- Is it done? Have you finished writing it? That’s the first thing. Unless your editor offers ghostwriting services, you will have to write all of it first.
- Have you done the work of editing yourself? Before hiring an editor, complete your own edits. Multiple edits. Multiple proofs.
Then, put the manuscript away for a while. Once you think you’ve exhausted every possible editing tool, give it a rest. Don’t touch it, don’t worry about it, don’t poke it. Take a mental health break from the book for a good month, maybe more. Then go back and read it. Vet every sentence, SLOWLY. Read it aloud. Pay attention to the things that pop out at you. Deal with them. This is your final proof before you hire an editor. (There will be more edits and proofs to come with your editor.)
I also offer an online class to help authors learn to work with a professional editor. If you want to learn more about working with an editor, learn more here.
How involved will I need to be in the editorial process?
My clients are fully involved. I ask questions all along the way, and I send them successive edits for their feedback and approval, as well as asking them for rewrites, etc., as I go. I consider the work I do as an editor to be a collaboration with my authors, and I need my clients to participate.
Most of the authors I work with are deeply invested in their work and how it turns out, and they want to be an integral part of the process. I insist on it: this is your book.
If you want to learn more about working with a professional editor, read about the online classes I offer.
How long do most editing projects take?
The truest answer I can give you is the same for every book: It takes as long as it takes.
The most accurate answer is that it depends on the project: How long it is, how complicated it is, what sort of shape it's in. How much work it will take to bring out the best in it. How responsive the author is to questions or requests for input/rewriting, etc.
That said, you can generally expect a book edit to take at least an hour of actual work per one thousand words--if you have written a 50,000-word book, expect it to take at least 50 hours of direct, hands-on time on my part, depending on how much work it requires. (This does not include time spent discussing issues with you by email, phone, or Zoom, sending revisions back and forth, etc.) In my practice, this includes a minimum of three full passes through your book, with lots of communication along the way. Those 50 hours will be spread over several weeks, most likely months, given all the back-and-forth between editor and author and how many other projects I have on my desk at the same time. Every book is different. Children's books, in particular, operate on a much different timeline. No two books are alike, but we will establish a general timeline and incorporate any deadlines you may have.
Keep in mind that the process of editing and producing a book is not usually quick. An author working with a traditional publisher can expect that it will often take 18 months to two years to see their book on the shelves--sometimes longer. Smaller indie publishers can usually take you through the process from acceptance to publication in a year, occasionally less, (or occasionally more), depending on a number of factors either playing nice together or conspiring against any predefined deadline at every turn.
How much does it cost to hire an editor?
That depends on the editor--her skill and experience and what services she is providing. A rough guide can be found on the Editorial Freelancers Association site, here: https://www.the-efa.org/rates/
The way editors charge varies. Some charge by the hour, some by the word, some a flat fee negotiated per project. Some projects lend themselves more to one method than another. I have used all of the above methods, depending on the individual project, but most of the time, I charge by word count. But children's books and poetry, especially, are priced per each unique project. If your book requires significantly more attention than would usually be necessary, the rate will be higher.
Bottom line is: each project will be priced individually. To get a personalized quote on your project, contact me.