How to find the perfect editor for your book

You might have the perfect date or partner for Valentine’s day, but how do you find the perfect editor for you? As an author looking for an editor, where do you look? After all, there’s no Tinder or Bumble for editors! The process is actually not that different to searching for the love of your life! And when you find your dream editor, the relationship can be magical! As an experienced editor myself, I’ll let you in on where the best editors are hiding and how to find them…

1. Know what you want

Like when you’re looking for a partner, you need an idea of what you’re looking for. The most important factor in getting the right editor for you is knowing what you actually want from them! Answering the following questions will help you figure this out…

  • What do you want to be edited—blogs, adverts, books, websites?
  • What type of editing do you want—content and message, development and structure, language and wording, or just a check for typos?
  • What type of editor do you want—entry-level, experienced, locally-based, remote?
  • What type of communication style do you prefer—phone, email, in person, Skype?
  • What kind of feedback do you prefer—hands-off, recommendations, hands-on, chatty, professional, no BS, gentle?
  • What is your subject matter—topic, genre, level, intended audience?
  • What is your budget—as much as it takes, reasonable, or relatively small?
  • What is your time frame—immediate, within a few weeks, a few months, or long-term?
  • What are your specific requirements—knowledge of a style guide, type of English (American, British, etc.)?

2. Look in the right place

Once you’ve honed these answers, you’re better placed to look in the right location for your editor. If your project is fairly general, you can look to more general locations (and I don’t mean the local pub!). If your project is fairly niche, you should look in more specialist places.

For example, if you want a relatively experienced editor for blogs, who speaks American English, and is available this week, you’re highly likely to find someone on a generalist freelancing platform such as PeoplePerHour. There are plenty of great general editors on most freelancing sites.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a very experienced book editor for children’s fiction aged 7-10, and you can wait until the best editor is available, then you’re better to try a specialist website. The best freelance site for book editors is Reedsy, a book-specific site with a strict hiring process, where all of the editors have in-house experience from publishing houses.

Of course, you can also do a Google search for editors, but it’s like sticking a needle in a haystack. You’re less likely to find a broad range and might miss out on the editors who don’t have their own site or don’t know how to promote it. It also involves perusing lots of websites, and you can’t guarantee seeing honest feedback.

3. Do your due diligence

When you’re in the right place, start browsing through editors’ profiles to see whether they meet your tick list. Just like dating sites, most freelancing sites have filter options (such as language, location, rating, etc.) to hone the list. Check their profiles for mistakes or things that could be worded better.

Read through their feedback from previous clients and look out for particularly great feedback, rather than just “good job”. Google their name and see whether they appear on any other freelancing sites, then check their feedback on those sites too.

From that, you can draw up a list of potentials. Now, it’s time get in touch with them.

4. Ask the right questions

If you were considering inviting someone on a date, you’d speak to them first right? So why would you hire an editor before having a conversation with them? (And believe me, people do!) Send each of the candidates a message and talk about your project.

Ask them questions that are relevant to your project, such as their time frame, working style, and so on. You can ask them for a sample edit, but they’re not obliged to provide one, and remember that it’s time they’re not being paid for. At this point, unless your brief is 100% perfect, most good editors will ask you questions to clarify your needs.

Think of these conversations as an opportunity to get to know the editor and see whether your communication styles are harmonious. Don’t go ahead until you’re confident that they understand what you want and can deliver it. If it doesn’t feel right, politely thank them for their time and move on.

5. Try a few

From your conversations, limit your long list to a few editors who seem like they might be right for you. A clear winner might emerge from your conversations, in which case go ahead and hire them.

If you’re still not sure, pick a small project that doesn’t cost you too much and ask all of them to complete the same project. Compare the results and choose the best one to go forward with. Let the others down gently. The handy benefit is that this also gives you a back-up in case one isn’t available in the future.

If you’re looking for an editor to work with long-term, this approach a winner. Good luck on your quest to find the perfect editor for you!

Where did you find your editor? Comment below or get in touch!