Sunday, November 19, 2017

How I Found My Editor

After I finished writing, revising, and polishing my manuscript—a suspense novel set in Bulgaria—and after receiving very few responses from the literary agents I queried, I decided to take my next step in a completely independent direction.

It would have been incredibly simple to immediately self-publish the novel but before I did that, I needed to be totally convinced that it was free of embarrassing punctuation and grammar mistakes. I needed the assistance of a professional editor.

How would I find a suitable editor, one who would connect with my fiction and provide professional assistance at a reasonable price? I checked the listings on the Editorial Freelancers Association website and selected fifteen candidates that I felt would be the most suitable. I sent each of them a short email:

I have written a suspense novel (104,000 words). I am interested in receiving a quote for editing services (proofreading + just having a set of professional eyes review the manuscript). Thank you in advance for responding with a cost and time estimate for this project.

To my surprise, and very much unlike the process of querying, most of the freelance editors I contacted replied with huge enthusiasm for my project.

How Would I Choose?

With so many eager candidates, I needed to determine which editor would provide the best results at the most reasonable price. I sent each of them a short sample of my writing; some editors asked for a longer version. My sample would show the prospective editor the quality of my writing and their response would show me the depth of their editing.

The responses I received were quite varied. One editor said he wouldn't change a single word in my first chapter, so I ruled him out right away. Another said he could only provide revision suggestions after seeing the entire manuscript. I ruled him out as well.

The rest of the candidates sent back suggested changes highlighted by Word’s tracking function. I had intentionally made a simple punctuation mistake in the very first sentence of my writing sample. Most of the freelance editors pointed that out to me. The majority suggested simple sentence restructuring, occasional word replacements, and a tightening of the text. All of the suggestions were truly helpful, and on target, so how would I choose with which one to work?

The Best Return on Investment

Of course, the price of the freelance editing was also a major factor. To edit a 300-page work of fiction I received quotes ranging from $900 to $3,500. All of the editors stated that they were ready to start work on the project immediately, with quick turn-around times.

In the end I made a decision.  I selected the candidate who offered the most professional editing at the most reasonable price. But something more than that is needed to ensure that the end result is the best possible.

There has to be a good rapport between the writer and the editor. The editor has to get into the writer’s creative mindset and communicate suggestions while keeping true to the writer’s voice. If a writer can find the editor who can do that, a prolonged selection process will be totally worth the effort.

Photo credit: Helloquence at Unsplash

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