(This is an excerpt from my book “Your Book Title Here“, available on the Kindle platform at Amazon.com, $2.99 USD.)
The editor is the one bit of outsourcing that I must recommend no matter how good a writer you are. With editors, you are paying for something that cannot be achieved any other way: objectivity.
Editors come from many paths. Some of them are language specialists, but many come from other, far more interesting sources. Some of them are industry experts, and some of them are teachers or business people. In my experience, the degrees on the wall matter very little to the quality of the service and work you will get. Instead, focus on their communication style. Do they seem to understand what you’re trying to achieve? When they read your work, do they make intelligent criticisms, and explain the reasons for them clearly? If so, great. You’ve got the foundation for a wonderful working relationship. Don’t just look for someone that agrees with you on everything. Not only is that not objective, but it means that they’re not telling you the whole truth of what they observe in the work.
Criticism is a big part of the editing process, and I’m here to tell you right now, get over any personal feelings you might have about the process. You have bigger stuff to care about, like creating a high-quality product. You need to focus on the big picture, not your personal feelings. Think early on in the process about your budget to hire an editor, and it will be easier to make happen.
Ouch! Peggy is really mean! Yes, I am. I’ve been on both sides of the editing fence. And now, I truthfully enjoy being the writer receiving help from the editor, because I can really see the improvement it makes in my final product: I’m actually becoming a better writer because of good editing. The thrill of working with someone who also believes in your book is so satisfying. You’ll know they believe in making it successful if they offer plenty of constructive criticism. This will happen for you too. I’m not saying it will be easy, but you will be better, and the praise you’ll receive as a quality writer will hopefully make up for any hurt feelings.
What does an editor cost? OK, prepare to be angry at me again: I can’t tell you that. The fact of it is, it fluctuates wildly. As I said, editors come from different backgrounds, and they all charge differently. Some charge by the word, and some by the hour. Some will only do certain types of editing, and the charges for different types of editing are also different. Some types of editors, like style and content editors, will only offer big-picture advice, rather than picking through your manuscript line-by-line.
At the very least, a copy-editing pass should be done before you finalize your work. This means just checking for things like spelling and punctuation mistakes, along with things like proper sentence structure and grammar. An abundance of copy errors will ruin the credibility of the entire work. However, I find that someone who can point out things like “You drag on a bit here,” or, “I would leave out that entire paragraph,” or, “You need to explain this further,” are extremely helpful, and that stuff is what really makes me improve. Simple copy-editing is also often better performed by a different editor than the one who does any style editing on your work. A fresh pair of eyes will catch stuff you wouldn’t believe.
Despite all editing you may have done, don’t freak out when the inevitable happens: your manuscript will still have errors. And I don’t just mean one, as there will probably be a bunch. Of course, you will only see them after the book has been sent to a major newspaper for review, or when your mentor is reading it. Relax. All authors cringe at this thought. It happens. Move on.
To read more from this book, please see http://www.amazon.com/Your-Book-Title-Peggy-Richardson-ebook/dp/B0098IAWRG.