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As a comment to an earlier blog post, Deb Scott asked what kind of editor to hire before self-publishing her book.
I recommended hiring a good copy editor, because you want to edit for style, organization and format, as well as grammar and punctuation. It seemed to me though, that I shouldn’t give you some advice about the kind of editor to hire without suggesting how you might hire the right editor, as opposed to the wrong one.
I’ve had people come to me who’ve spent thousands of dollars on editing and they know they need to start all over again. They threw their money away. It’s painful to hear about it and I don’t want it to happen to you. Follow these rules and you should do okay:
1. If you can, get a recommendation from someone who got their book traditionally published or knows good editor from bad.
2. Make sure the editor is familiar with your genre. You don’t want someone who only does how-to books to edit your memoir.
3. Find out what other books they’ve edited.
4. Ask the editor questions about their previous experience. What kinds of things have they done for recent clients (helped organize the material more clearly, helped the writer draw out the anecdotes better, helped the author show vs. tell, etc.)?
5. You may want to ask for a sample of their work.
If you feel you still need more information before making your decision, see if they’ll let you pay for the first chapter before committing to the entire manuscript.
As I think I mentioned in the earlier comment, don’t hire a POD or printing company to edit your book. They will usually look for the cheapest person around because they generally compete on price, not quality. The result is most often a book that doesn’t even seem edited at all.
You should ask about the person’s rates–is it by the page, the word or the hour? Can you get a quote on the project ahead of time? You may want to get several quotes. The ranges are quite varied–you usually get what you pay for, but don’t assume that a higher price always means higher quality–do your due diligence and get references.