I am by no means an expert at hiring an editor or on editor services, but one of the main purposes of this blog is to share my experience with self publishing in the hopes that it helps someone else out there. Please take the “advice” in this post in that spirit.
Some comments about the editing process in general:
1. Editing is expensive. Think about all that goes into the process. First, the editor has to wade through your massive tome. Then, he has to diagnose the problems. Finally, he has to compose cogent comments about the work. The expense is justified. Seeing as how editing is so costly, though, make sure you’re ready for it. The better your writing is at the start, the more bang for your buck you’ll get out of your editor. I think spending money to have someone tell you where commas should go is ludicrous. There are much more important functions for your editor to perform; learn basic grammar and writing rules!
2. The best piece of advice I’ve heard about choosing an editor is that the editor needs to get what you’re trying to accomplish. If the person you choose doesn’t like your writing, you are both in for a rough road.
3. Choose an editor you respect. I question my beta readers all the time. In fact, I call one of them an idiot on a regular basis (usually before giving in and accepting that he’s right). I’m not saying that you should take every word from an editor as a directive from God, but you should automatically elevate any of his comments far above the level of your typical beta reader.
4. Your editor should have one goal — to help you make your piece work better. His objective is not to ruin your art or to force you to follow a “rule” just for the sake of conformity. You have to trust that the motive of any comment is to make your writing more engaging (or whatever measure of goodness you and your editor are using). If you don’t feel that level of trust, you need either to adjust your attitude or find a new editor.
Finding an Editor:
I didn’t go through much of a rigorous process. I submitted a sample to Flourish Editing, liked what I got back, sent them my novelette as a test, and was quite happy with the result.
To be honest, Flourish Editing’s rates are at (maybe over) what I want to pay, and, perhaps, I could find an editor just as good out there for less. Frankly though, how much time would it take to go through that process? Editing is expensive, and a good editor is worth it.
If you’re looking for a cheap option, there are a lot of freelancers out there. Be prepared to do a lot of wading in the weeds to find the one that’s right for you.
This option is the least expensive by far. Your editor will provide you with overview comments and touch on Style, Setting, Characterization, Plot and Tension, and Structure on a 20,000 foot level. My hope was that this level would be enough for me. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this analysis provides the detail necessary to take my novel to the next level. This option is probably best for someone who has an advanced first draft or second draft and is looking for major issues that need to be fixed.
This option is going to cost roughly twice as much as the Manuscript Review, but you’re getting a lot more for the money. You’ll get all the information you would from the first option but more detailed. More importantly, you’ll get a chapter by chapter breakdown with specific advice for improvement. I think an author needs to go with at least this level of report prior to self publishing.
This option is the gold standard, and, if I had the money, I’d choose it for each of my books. At roughly twice the cost of the Structural Review, the editor will go through your manuscript line by line and offer specific suggestions on how to improve. If wishes were fishes… Oh well.