Lit Help Tuesday: Finding the Right Book Editor

Happy Tuesday Lovelies,

Last week for Lit Help we discussed the process of setting up your self-publishing business. Today, lets chat about finding your editor. Choosing the right editor, is like choosing the right mate. You are going to be with this person for a very long time and want to make sure he is a good communicator, listener, understands you and willing to work with you fifty-fifty. Just like dating, finding your soul-mate editor on the first time rarely happens. Finding and choosing an editor is a very daunting and time-consuming tasks.


Here are a few tips to help with the process:

  • What type of editing services do you need: For a book edit, there are multiple layers of editing that are usual done throughout phases. Keep in mind the editing process can become quite costly.

Phase 1 – Developmental: Editor reviews the full manuscript and gives an overall assessment with suggestions on structural and development changes.

Phase 2 – Developmental Cont’d: You will make changes and return to the editor. The editor will reevaluate the edited manuscript and continue to provide structural, organizational and developmental edits.

Phase 3 – Presentation: Now it’s time to focus on the overall look of your manuscript. The editor will pay close attention to the organization, presentation and sentence structure to ensure the text reads smoothly. Language issues are also addressed; grammar, punctuations, spelling, contradictions and more.

Phase 4 – Final In-depth Review: The editor will give you a final read through to ensure a quality well-edited manuscript.

  • Budget: Prior to hiring an editor do your homework to see how much they cost. Research both freelancer editors and editorial services, then compare and contrast. 
  • Experienced Editor: Be sure your editor has a wealth of knowledge for book editing and plenty of experience. You do not want to entrust a college student or “friend of a friend” who does this on the side for extra cash. This is your sweat and tears put on paper. Entrust your hard-work with something who has the capability to give you a correct product on the first try. Having someone re-edit an half-done edited manuscript becomes even more costly.
  • Broaden your editor search: As excited as you may be to quickly secure an editor and begin the process, do not rush. Take your time while editor shopping. I suggest securing a solid three good picks and doing the following to make your final decision.  
  • Check References: This is very important. I cannot stress this enough to please check references prior to beginning work with an editor. When you email or call the candidates previous client(s), be sure to ask the tough questions. Ask questions that are related to editing more so than character.

Did you ever meet your editor in person? If not, how was the remote experience? Did you find that he/she was reachable when you needed something quickly?

What type of book did he/she edit? Were you happy with the edit?

How long was the process? Did you find that he/she was insightful and provided valuable suggestions/feedback? Did the editor provide explanations for the changes?

Did the editor ever agree with you when you wanted to leave something, that he/she had suggested removing?


How was his/her personality through the whole ordeal? Would you use him/her again?

Did the editor stay on budget and within the timeline given for the project or did it go over?

  • Sample Edit: Request the editor to edit a one-page document to see his/her editing style. Most editors will not edit a page from your manuscript, however, you can ask.
  • Get a Tough Skin: After you have made your decision and hired an editor. Be prepared for your manuscript to come back completely chopped up with red marks. Don’t worry it is for the best. No one wants to see their hard-work full of red marks and track changes, however, you are not paying this person to over-look and sugar coat things. All editors will find something, no matter how good a writer you are.

P.S. When you get edits back, take a few days to think about them before making your final decision. At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with your overall manuscript. If you are not comfortable, speak with your editor to see if you all can come to a middle ground.

Happy Editing,


Missy B. Salick


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