How to Find a Book Editor You Can Trust

How to Find a Book Editor You Can Trust

15 mins read

On our network of sites, we’ve covered topics like how much you should expect to pay for an edit, what you ought to send an editor, how to get on your editor’s good side, how to edit a book, and much more.

As for your host on today’s article, I’m a full-time book editor, author and ghostwriter.

I’ve written, coauthored, or ghostwritten eight books and have edited dozens more. I’m well-versed in self-publishing, and I’ve helped a handful of clients craft proposals for traditional publishing, one of which was picked up at the tail end of 2016.

In other words, I’m in the trenches every working day.

Through this column, I hope you’ll learn what I wish I would have known about editing and editors when I first became serious about writing as a business.

To that end, let’s get to what may be the most pressing topic for a new author seeking to self-publish.

How to find an editor

You could search the Internet for “editor,” “book editor,” or “Help, I need an editor ASAP,” but you will be overwhelmed with choices.

Even that last search phrase has more than 200,000 hits, and most of those seem to be video editors. So how are you supposed to find the right editor for your book?

Try each of these steps until you find one that nets you at least a few good leads.

1. Seek referrals from other writers

The best advertising for an editor is a satisfied client.

Talk with your fellow writers, whether online or in real life, and ask who they recommend.

However, you may encounter a Catch-22: better editors’ schedules may be packed, and you may not want to wait a few months for them even to begin working on your book.

That’s when you proceed to Step 2.

2. Seek referrals from that referral

If your writer friend has provided a glowing review of his or her editor, but that editor doesn’t have room for you in their schedule (or they don’t provide the specific kind of editing you need), kindly and quickly ask that editor for a referral to another editor.

Most experienced editors have professional connections they’ll be more than happy to leverage in order to help a writer.

But what if you don’t have any writer friends who’ve used an editor?

3. Check pre-vetted lists

Instead of searching the entire Internet for an editor, consider these sites that have already compiled lists of qualified, capable editors:

Whether you use these sites or other compilations, be sure to read up on how a list was curated.

Did the editor have to pay to be listed? (The EFA requires a yearly subscription.) Did someone else have to vouch for their work in order to be added? (Other writers vouched for editors on K. M. Weiland’s list.) Could they simply add themselves? (Fiverr, Upwork, etc.)

Always conduct due diligence.

4. Utilise Social Media

Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook offer invaluable resources for you when seeking an editor. Within these platforms, there are numerous groups and communities dedicated to writing, editing, and publishing.

You can join these groups to network with fellow authors and editors, share experiences, ask for recommendations, and even find editors directly advertising their services.

By engaging with these online communities, writers can tap into a vast pool of editorial talent and connect with professionals who can help refine their work to its fullest potential.

5. Professional Organizations

Professional organizations such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) or the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) serve as invaluable resources for you when seeking an editor.

These organizations typically have directories or databases of experienced editors available for hire, along with resources and guidelines to help writers navigate the editing process effectively.

By joining such organizations, you can gain access to a network of reputable professionals who can provide expert editorial services tailored to your specific needs.

Additionally, these organizations often offer workshops, conferences, and other events where you can further develop their skills and connections within the editing community.

6. Writer’s Conferences 

Writer’s conferences, such as the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference, offer fertile ground when seeking editors.

These events attract a diverse array of literary professionals, including editors from publishing houses, literary magazines, and freelance backgrounds. When attending these conferences, you can seize the opportunity to network with editors during panel discussions, workshops, and networking events.

Many editors participate as speakers or panelists, providing valuable insights into the editing process and offering opportunities for one-on-one interactions.

By engaging with editors at writer’s conferences, you will be able to forge meaningful connections, pitch work, and potentially secure editorial partnerships to enhance the quality of your writing projects.

7. Local Writing Groups

Local writing groups serve as excellent resources for writers in search of editors.

These groups often consist of passionate writers who are eager to support one another in their writing endeavors. Within these communities, writers can often find members who have experience working with editors or can provide recommendations based on their own experiences.

Additionally, writing groups may host events or workshops focused on the editing process, where writers can learn more about finding and working with editors effectively.

By participating in local writing groups, writers not only gain access to potential editors but also foster connections with fellow writers who can offer valuable insights and support throughout the editing journey.

8. Literary Magazines and Journals

Literary magazines and journals are valuable resources for writers seeking editors to refine their work. Many of these publications offer editing services or can connect writers with experienced editors in their network.

For instance, “The Paris Review” provides editorial services for writers looking to polish their manuscripts before submission. Similarly, “Granta” offers manuscript consultations where writers can receive feedback and guidance from experienced editors.

These opportunities not only help writers improve their work but also provide valuable networking connections within the literary community.

Additionally, some literary magazines like “Poets & Writers” maintain directories of editors, making it easier for writers to find the right editorial support for their projects. By engaging with literary magazines, writers can access a wealth of editorial expertise to elevate their writing to the next level.

9. University Writing Centers

University writing centers provide great opportunities for writers when seeking editing assistance. These centers typically employ trained writing tutors who can provide feedback on drafts, assist with grammar and style, and offer guidance on the editing process.

For example, the writing center at Harvard University offers one-on-one consultations where writers can receive personalized feedback on their writing projects. Similarly, the University of California, Berkeley’s writing center provides online resources and workshops to support writers at all stages of the writing process.

By utilizing university writing centers, writers can access expert editorial support and improve their writing skills in a collaborative and supportive environment.

10. Online Forums and Communities 

Online forums and communities, such as Reddit’s r/writing, serve as vibrant hubs for writers seeking editors. These platforms provide spaces for writers to connect with editors, exchange feedback, and share resources.

For instance, the subreddit r/HireAnEditor offers a platform for writers to post job listings and connect with freelance editors for various projects.

Additionally, forums like Absolute Write and host sections dedicated to editor recommendations and services.

By engaging with online writing communities, writers can tap into a diverse pool of editorial talent, receive valuable feedback on their work, and establish professional relationships that enhance the quality of their writing projects.

11. Self Publishing Platforms

Self-publishing platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or IngramSpark are other viable avenues for writers seeking editing services.

These platforms often offer editing packages or connect writers with professional editors who specialize in their genre.

For example, KDP’s Author Services provides editing options ranging from basic proofreading to comprehensive editing services. Similarly, IngramSpark offers access to Ingram’s network of professional editors who can assist writers with refining their manuscripts.

By utilizing self-publishing platforms, writers can access affordable and reliable editing services to ensure their work is polished and ready for publication.

How to vet an editor

After discovering a handful of editors who seem like a good fit, you’ll want to spend more time ensuring that they’re the right person for you and your book.

After all, you’ll be closely working with them on something that’s likely very close to you.

By investing time up front to find the best candidate, you may just succeed in landing a great editor on your first try, saving you the hassle of further back-and-forth emails with more editors.

Vetting an editor can be as simple as two steps, though each of these steps could require a fair amount of work on your part.

1. Do your research

Before contacting an editor, comb through your prospective editor’s website.

Carefully read about the kinds of editing they offer. Browse through the books they’ve edited. Read their endorsements.

If you’re really intent on learning about what it’s like to work with that particular editor, consider reaching out to one of that editor’s clients. Find the editor on social media to see what he or she is like apart from their writing work. Conduct a search with just the editor’s name to see what the rest of the web may say about them.

2. Ask specific questions

Don’t waste your time (or theirs) to discover information that’s already online.

Do as much homework as you can before contacting an editor by email or phone. However, you will undoubtedly have specific questions that can only be answered by contacting your prospective editor.

Here’s a list to help you think through what you ought to know about your editor before contracting to work with him or her:

  • What types of editing do you offer?
  • How much do you charge?
  • How long have you been editing?
  • Can you put me in touch with other clients you’ve worked with?
  • What experience do you have in [insert your genre]?
  • What’s your process in working with writers?
  • What software do you use to edit?
  • Will you send me a contract before work commences?
  • Can we schedule a face-to-face meeting [or Zoom] prior to beginning work together?
  • How often (and how) will you be in contact with me during the editing process?
  • Do you offer a sample edit?
  • When is payment due?
  • What are my options for payment?
  • Will you be nice to me?

For more questions for your editor, check out this article. Despite what they may do to your manuscript, most editors I know actually are nice people.

They love to read as much as you do, and their goal for your book is the same as your goal for your book: to make it the best it can be with the time and resources allowed to them.

Finding the right editor for your book can be challenging, but if you approach it from a professional mindset and follow the suggestions in this article, you should be able to find someone who can make your book shine.

May your search for an editor be short and successful.

Have you worked with an editor before? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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