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How to Find an Editor

Finding a freelance editor these days is pretty easy. We’re pretty much everywhere. Finding an editor who fits your needs, who is right for you, is the hard part.

Yes, editors are everywhere, but let’s assume you’re not one of them. Let’s assume you’re a first time author publishing independently. Where should you begin? The quick and easy answer: wherever you feel most comfortable.

Chances are you’re regularly active on some form of social media. You’re on Twitter or Facebook, or Google+ or even Kindleboards. You’re already where you need to be. Chances are you’re in touch with at least one writer online, whether you’re aware of it or not. Even if that writer has never worked with an editor, they may know one or more. They can probably put you in touch with other writers who can put you in touch with other editors.

We don’t call the Internet a “web” for nothing. Pull the right strings and you can find anything, or anyone, you need. So begin by letting your Internet friends know you’re in the market for an editor. Put out a tweet, a Facebook post, or a Google+ convo and see where it gets you.

Don’t be discouraged when an online buddy says, “I don’t think they’re taking new clients, but….” Contact them anyway. The worst that can happen is that the editor in question will refer you to a colleague. And make sure while you’re searching that you find more than one. Why? Because sometimes things just don’t work out. You want to find the right editor for you. I’ll dig a bit deeper into that one in another post.

When you do make contact, there are a few things that you must have ready, because you will likely be asked for them:

First, make sure your manuscript is ready to be seen by an editor. It needs to be complete and polished to the best of your ability. I, for one, do not read queries. If you send me a synopsis of your story and say, “What do you think?” I’m going to ask, “What do you think?” It’s not my job to write or rewrite your book. It’s yours. If you send me a first draft and you honestly expect me to essentially ghost write it or rewrite it for you so that it goes from your first draft to my novel, I will turn you away so fast you won’t know what hit you. Make sure your work is done.

Second, you want to have a rough idea of when you intend to publish or whether you are willing to work on your editor’s timeframe. If you come to me in the middle of February and tell me you’d like to have your manuscript finished and ready for Amazon by the middle of March, I need to know. Honestly, my schedule right now is such that I can’t promise that, and I will let you know. I’d rather lose a client by being honest than have one dissatisfied by being so late that I mess up their plans. I’ve heard horror stories from clients who waited months to get work back from their editors. If an editor is that busy, they should let you know up front.

Third, you want to know how flexible you are willing to be with your work and what you expect of your editor. Along the same line, you need to have a thick skin. I am not a kind and gentle, hand-holding type. I will give you an honest opinion, and you are not necessarily going to like it. Most editors care enough about their clients to shred a manuscript that is not working and tell the writer to go back to the drawing board. They will be brutally honest, because their ultimate goal is the same as yours–to turn out a quality piece of work that will sell, that is worth reading, that is worth paying for.

Finally, know how much you are willing to spend. Editing is not cheap. You are hiring an employee who expects to earn a living wage from their work with you. You can expect to be charged anywhere from $8 to $15, or even more, for every thousand words. I determine my fee based on word count and the condition of the initial sample I receive. Those two things give me an idea of how many hours, it will take me to finish the job.

If and when you approach me, I am going to ask you to send me:

  • Your word count–this is the biggest factor in determining my fee and giving you an estimate, but it’s not the only one.
  • A sample of your manuscript–about ten pages, or one chapter, from the ‘script we’ll be working on.
  • Your game plan–timeframe for publication, your goals for the piece (will it be going to publishers, or are you publishing independently, or entering in a contest of some sort).

It really is that simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. In my next post, I will give you some more information about actually choosing the editor who is right for you as well as reasons why they may or may not take you on as a client.


Laurie Laliberte is a freelance editor who specializes in working with writers who publish independently. She has published several books of her own in addition to editing numerous books for other authors. You are welcome to visit her website, Tales and Yarns, to learn more about her editorial process. Find Laurie’s books on Amazon.

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