More writers are hiring editors these days, whether they’re going indie or just making sure the manuscript is polished before submitting to agents and publishers. If you’re a newer writer, unpublished, here are some things we think you should do before spending your hard-earned money on a freelance editor.
(1) GET OBJECTIVE FEEDBACK.
It’s best to have a critique group or partner, if possible. Try to get the most honest feedback you can—not on grammar and punctuation, but on the overall content of your book. Are readers finding the book engaging? Are they reading to the end? Are they confused?
(2) EDIT & REVISE YOUR BOOK USING REPUTABLE SOURCES.
Find fiction resources HERE. Our favorites for the revision phase are Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King, and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell.
(3) UNDERSTAND AND FOLLOW 3-ACT STRUCTURE.
This is for fiction and memoir. PLEASE don’t underestimate the importance of story structure. If your editor has to spend the bulk of their time fixing your structure and educating you about it, you won’t get the best value for your editing money. You can learn structure on your own—and seriously, your book won’t work without it. A couple of helpful resources are Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.
(4) READ YOUR BOOK OUT LOUD TO CATCH AWKWARDNESS AND POOR PHRASING.
This is especially helpful to make sure fiction dialogue is snappy and believable. But it helps with any kind of writing. Often when you read it aloud, you’ll catch problems you’d never spot by reading silently.
(5) MAKE SURE YOUR EDITOR HAS EDITED PUBLISHED BOOKS.
It’s difficult to verify the legitimacy and credentials of each editor. So do your best to verify that they’ve edited books that have been published by traditional publishers. It’s your best bet for getting a good edit.