February 11

How do you find a great book editor?


You’ve been wanting to write a book for years, and you’ve finally buckled down and written a first draft. You’ve spent so many hours thinking about the book, reading and re-reading what you’ve written, and anguishing over whether it’s good enough to be published. You’re procrastinating bringing in a book editor.

At some point, though, you’re going to be so sick of your book, that you’re going to need to let another set of eyes read it.

You don’t want to just hand your first draft off to someone who will knock it down and kill your aspirations to publish. You need someone who can look passed the surface flaws and see the potential in your book. You need someone who knows how to structure a book, how to write in an engaging and persuasive way, and how to catch all of those nitty-gritty grammar errors that you know are lurking in there, somewhere.

Because you know that the quality of this book absolutely matters.

There are people out there who write a quick and dirty, 10,000-word book, slap a cover on it, and post it to Amazon. They get some moderate success for about 2 weeks, and then their book falls into the cyber abyss.

But your book is going to be different. Your book is going to be well-written, edited, formatted, and carefully published. You have big plans for you book—plans that include attracting clients, landing speaking gigs, and stepping up as a leader in your industry. When you call yourself an author, you want to feel good about the book that you published, knowing that you did everything you could to produce a high-quality book.

You need a book editor. Maybe more than one.

Most people don’t realize this, but there are actually three types of editing.

Developmental editing is when the editor looks at the overall structure of the book. She’s taking into account the broad themes and arguments of your book and ensuring that each chapter contributes to the larger structure and that each paragraph within each chapter contributes to that chapter’s structure. Developmental editors re-arrange your book, give suggestions on where you could clarify your message or story, and tell you where you have fluff or tangential material.

Copyediting is when the editor dives deep into your sentence structure. She’ll look for patterns in how you begin your sentences, habits in your writing style, words that you tend to use over and over again. She helps shape each sentence to be powerful and clear.

Proofreading is when the editor makes sure the entire book is completely consistent. When you use “U.S.” in Chapter 1 and “US” in Chapter 2, your proofreader’s going to catch that discrepancy and fix it. She’ll also track down every typo, misspelling, misplaced punctuation, and grammar error in the book.

What type of editing does your book need?

Honestly, all three. Every book needs a developmental edit (to make sure the structure is tight and coherent), copyediting (to make sure all of the sentences are clear and powerful), and proofreading (to make sure there are no inconsistencies or errors).

When a book goes through traditional publishing, you can bet that it goes through these three layers of editing, at least once.

Book editing is what makes your book look professional or amateur.

Tweet: If you’ve poured months of blood, sweat, & tears into writing your book, don’t rush through the editing process. (<<< Click to Tweet that!)

But how do you find a book editor to help you bring your first draft up to a publishable book?

There are some common ways to find an editor. You might start by asking your writer friends if they’ve used an editor who they’d recommend. You could also look at a few books you’ve liked, scan the acknowledgments to see if an editor’s name is mentioned, and see if that editor has a website. If you’re starting a search from scratch, the best editors have their own businesses and websites, so a Google search is actually a great place to start. Also, you could try LinkedIn, Upwork.com, or the-efa.org (the Editorial Freelancer’s Association).

If you’re doing this all on your own, you should find at least two editors, one to do developmental editing, and one to do copyediting and proofreading. Since you’re the author, you’ll also be the project manager who finds these editors and coordinates the editing process.

But before you hire an editor, there are a few things you need to know.

As a former editorial assistant of a publishing house, an independent editor since 2007, and now a managing editor of my own company (Paper Raven Books), I’ve learned a few things about hiring a good editor. I’ve put all my best advice into a free PDF packet, called “10 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Book Editor.” And you can grab it for free, right here, right now:

Or click here to get the guide.

What about you? Have you ever hired a book editor before? How did you find the editor, and what was your experience like?


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