To paraphrase a longstanding axiom, the author who chooses to edit their own book has a fool for an editor. Every editor is a reader and every writer are a reader, but a writer is never the best editor for his or her own work. Why? As the author of the work, you know exactly what you’re trying to say, and you’ll see it even when it isn’t there. A good editor will help you amplify your book in ways you could never accomplish on your own.
So, with all of that said, here’s how to hire an editor for your ebook.
The Right Experience
Editing books is a skill one acquires over time. An inexperienced editor can make your life absolutely miserable—and wreck your book. Ideally, you want someone who has experience in your genre and an appreciation for your particular style. It’s OK to hire a freelancer, as long as they can show you a strong body of work similar to yours. This is critical because you need someone with an eye for what works in your particular area. A children’s book author will likely be a bad choice for a technical manual—and vice versa.
Editor vs. Proofreader
A proofreader looks for grammatical errors, punctuation issues and other mechanical details. And yes, you will absolutely need one at a later stage in the game. But when you hire an editor, you’re looking for someone to tighten your book up, give it a smooth flow and ensure your points are made effectively.
Proofreaders only pay attention to structure. View anyone claiming to be capable of editing and proofreading simultaneously with scepticism. They will be mediocre at both tasks in most cases.
Truly competent editors know working on more than a couple of titles simultaneously is folly. If you ask an editor how many books they have in their queue alongside yours for the month and you get an answer greater than one, you’ll probably want to look for someone else. Editing is a time-consuming process.
They will read your book multiple times, making notes and suggestions for changes along the way. When you’ve made the changes they suggest, they’ll read it again to be sure the ideas improved the manuscript. This level of detail requires a significant time commitment.
Most editors base their rates upon guidelines established by the Editorial Freelancers’ Association or other well-regarded rate guides. Consulting these will give you an idea of what to expect. Granted, there are people whose work is so highly prized they can command larger fees. If they’ve got a raft of bestsellers under their belts, you can expect them to want more money for their services. However, given that you’re selling ebooks, the wisdom of going with a “celebrity” editor is somewhat questionable—unless you have a degree of celebrity too, and can count on huge sales to offset your costs.
Ask for a Sample Edit
When you’re considering how to hire an editor for your ebook, remember that the person you choose will have a significant impact on the way readers perceive it. The results can be sheer magic when you find the right person.
However, even with the right experience on their side, the two of you may have fit issues. A good way to determine your compatibility is with a trial edit of 10 pages or so. This will afford both of you an opportunity to see if your sensibilities align. It will also give you a conversation around an actuality rather than a theoretical.