Adventures in Career Changing | What is an Editor | Janet Gershen-Siegel

A Look at Choosing an Editor

Choosing an editor can be tricky. Sometimes, you just end up with whoever is cheapest or whoever you know. But if you have a choice in the matter, consider it carefully. Taking some time early in the game will help you out later. A lot.

Adventures in Career Changing | Choosing an Editor | Editors

Choosing an Editor is a means of creating a business relationship.

It’s a Business Relationship, Just Like Any Other

Do yourself a favor, and write a contract. This is a sample editing contract, and it’s pretty good. Be sure to change the contract to indicate the laws of your state apply, and clarify it is editing you are contracting for, etc. Look over the contract thoroughly before you sign it or ask anyone else to.

Working With an Editor

Be your courteous and professional self. Editors are a more professional group than beta readers (what I mean is, this is a profession, whereas beta reading is for free and is not a paying gig) and are generally people you hire. They will do copy editing, where they check for typos, etc., although there should be a last pass by a proofreader before publishing, no matter what.

Editors, instead, have a different role.


Editors can also check for continuity, but they will mainly read with the audience in mind. They are a good enhancement to the work of a beta reader, and are a good idea before you send your work out for querying.

Yes, a publisher will edit your work. But if your work is impossible to read, due to typos, improper punctuation, spelling errors, etc., then it’s highly likely the person(s) who passes along manuscripts from the slush pile for further consideration will just toss yours into the circular file.


Finding an Editor

The best way to get an editor is to do some research. Ask people you know who have been published, including your online friends. An editor no longer has to live in the same city or country as you do. However, you will be best served by someone who is a native speaker of the language your book is written in.

Work with the editor on a sample chapter. Do you get along? Are his or her suggestions reasonable? Are they slow? Does it seem to cost too much for what you are getting?

Finding an Editor on a Budget

If you are absolutely, utterly stuck for funds, try a local college or university. You might be able to get an English major to help you, but be aware they probably won’t have experience and they may not be the best fit. But they may be all you’ve got.

If you go the collegiate route, don’t just put up flyers. Instead, talk to a professor! Ask who the best students are. The professor may have an idea of who (a) knows what they are talking about and (b) is looking to make some money.

As for what to pay them, again, talk to your writing buddies and make some comparisons. Of course, pay a student amateur a lot less than you would pay someone who does this for a living.

Helping the Editor

No matter how much you spend for editing services, be sure to recommend that person wherever they wish, whether it is on LinkedIn, Yelp, or elsewhere. Be kind and helpful to this person, and you could start a lasting professional relationship that will benefit both of you for, potentially, years to come.


Did you have a good experience with your editor? Or was it a learning experience? Don’t fret if it was the latter. Just do your best to learn from your mistakes and, just like with everything else is life, see if you can do better next time.

I bet you can.

And PS, if you are published, whether self or traditionally, give a copy of your book to your editor. Or send swag. It’s an easy way to show your appreciation.

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