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Indie's Guide to the Self-Publishing Galaxy: Finding the Right Editor (Part 1)

*This post was originally posted on Jan 2017*

So, I know if you've already perused the awesomeness that is Google, you're probably already familiar with the TONS of resources for writers in regards to determining the kind of editor you need and at what stage--maybe even information on what to look for when hiring one! With that in mind, I'm not going to bore you with rehashing a lot of that stuff. What I can share with you is my own personal experience and let you know what tidbits that I found during my research was found to be true during this process. I will break this up into parts as to not overwhelm you.

Yay! I completed my draft! Aww $#@!, it's just the beginning!

To be honest, for the longest time, I kinda sat back and gloated at how I'd finally finished my novel draft. I mean, c'mon. How many people can brag about writing a book? Like actually complete writing a book? But in reality, as the time after I finished the draft started to fade in and out, I realized that finishing the draft was just a small (yes, small) step up on the giant hill that is the mountain of publishing. Now, I had to go through the dreaded revisioning process. This is when you leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks and let it age, then pull it back out with fresh eyes and comb through it to polish it. This can be anywhere from, changing the title to filling plot holes, to even changing verb tense and spelling. It's all up for re-examination: your characters, plot development, dialogue and tone.

Tip#1 : Each round of revisions you make, you need to focus on 1 task at a time. For example, to me, the first wave of revisions will be around character and plot development, because those are the big mamma-jammers. The last would be spelling and grammar because that task kinda adds the necessary and final touches to your polished manuscript. Fight the temptation to update grammar when you're really looking through plot development. That's super-distracting and you'll just overwhelm yourself.

You simply can't afford to overwhelm yourself so early in the game of publishing. Besides, this is just a tiny foothill in the grand scheme of things, but a pretty damn important one as well. So take your time and do your revisions systematically. Also, if you get tired of looking at your manuscript over and over, just set it aside and give yourself a few days to break. It's're the boss and you can come back to it when you're ready.

Now, after all of the revisioning you can muster is done (and you feel fairly confident about it), you're probably ready to find an editor or an editor "dream team". You may be asking, "Why would I need an editor? I'm self-publishing!" That is exactly all the more reason you need a professional editor. It's great to have your scholar buddy from your English class or your Aunt Millie to proofread your work, but in the end, you really owe it to yourself (and your book) to invest in hiring a professional editor(s).

Tip#2: Do as much editing on your own BEFORE you invest in an editor. You are the writer, after all, so you should be doing your own rounds of developmental editing and proofreading. It's good to hone your editing skills and the more you do, the less the editor's job will be on your work. This also saves money that could be moved to your marketing budget.

Tip#3: Research the different types of editors and decide what help you need. Remember, there are different types of literary editors. Make sure you ask the right questions and decide which you need to polish your novel. Some independent authors have managed to find an editor for free, to which I give an air of caution.

The Problem with FREE Editors

The old adage, "You get what you pay for", didn't get old for nothing. It's tried and true for a reason. Now, that's no disrespect to any professional editor that made a decision to offer their services for free, nor the budding editors out there willing to waive service fees for some reason or other. This is just from my experience. I frequent the Wattpad community a great deal and many people put themselves out there as editors. Most are willing to provide services in exchange for a book dedication or follow, but in essence, they are not charging fees to edit your work.

Sounds awesome, right? If you can shave $2,500 in editing costs this way, then good for you. I, at first was interested as well. After 4 months and 3 different inquiries out to edit, ZERO editors completed editing, followed up with me or even provided a timeline for completion. It was disastrous. Here I was, with a finished draft, that I have already combed through, waiting for an editor who had committed to working my novel--only to have them ghost me.

That reminded me of the problem with FREE services:

- No obligation/commitment. I used to be a wedding photographer and one of my prospects urgently became a client the morning of their wedding, because they at first asked their friend to shoot the wedding for free. However, on the morning of the wedding, the friend bailed saying he was sick and didn't feel like coming. Big fail for bride and groom right? Aside from being their friend, there was nothing holding him accountable for providing those services to them. No contract, no deposit. Nothing but his word, that sadly was shot to hell that morning. I had to come to the rescue, because unlike their friend, I was a professional that relied on business. I charged the fee to provide these services along with a contract, so clients know that I am committed to servicing them. That's the problem with free editing. In the publishing world, life is about deadlines. Your editor needs to be committed to working with you to deliver the goods on time.

- Quality of work. Free editing services are usually not from a professional editor, because pros need to (and should) be paid for their time and expertise. You're paying for the quality of work and making your work shine. If the editor isn't charging, you need to ask yourself why. Be sure to get a sample edit (all serious editors offer this) and see what you could expect from their skills.

- Communication problems. When there's no commitment, there's nothing keeping the editor from engaging with you on a regular basis. This was the ultimate frustration when engaging editors on Wattpad. I would email them, iron out details then a week would pass...I follow up...another week, then finally an email. In those 3 weeks, a several chapters of editing could've been completed! When someone is offering their editing services for free, it's generally in their "spare" time. Meaning, if life gets in the way and they have no spare time, it's tough luck for the author.

Now, that is not to say that just because you paid for an editor, you won't experience these issues either. You need to vet your editors carefully, regardless of how you acquire them. I'm saying from my personal experience, the risk of those issues were less when dealing with a professional editor. So, be sure you know what you're getting into and find an editor that is engaging. If you're finding yourself chasing them, it's a red flag to move on and find someone else.

When I switched my tactics and started searching for a freelance editor, my world changed. I met some very cool, very deliciously nerdy author-lovers who are pros at what they do. And when I found the one, it was like wedding bells in the air! We got along, she understood my writing style and her work was amazing. I knew when I paid her fees, it was worth the investment and we would be working together a lot.

In Part 2 of this blog series, we'll cover the type of questions and traits I looked for when finding "the one."

Now, what are the types of fiction editors:

Think of the type of editors and their role as Macro to Micro in terms of the issues they handle in your manuscript.

Developmental editors work with the author to craft the manuscript, looking at structure and argument in non-fiction or plot and character in fiction. (In traditional publishing, these are usually the acquiring editors.) They focus on global issues of the whole book and at the chapter level.

Line editors (also called Copy editors) also look at the manuscript as a whole, but generally don’t work as closely with the author and aren’t expected to edit as deeply. They concentrate on the language or copy and focus on trying to make the style of the manuscript clean and consistent. You can say they focus on the paragraph and sentence level of editing.

Proofreaders are usually the last folks who look at a book, in galley or proof form, as it’s about to go off to be printed (or, in the case of ebooks, as it’s about to enter distribution). They’re looking purely for misspellings or errors in style, such as improper punctuation, grammar or formatting.

How do they all work? quoted it in a very high level answer that I simply love

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