7 Ways to Find an Editor—and How to Know When It’s Time

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Whether you’re interested in publishing traditionally or going the indie, self-publishing route, getting an editor to review your manuscript is a mandatory step in every writer’s process.

I recently took that step.

I sent my WIP to an editor, which means, while I wait for her edits, you may find me biting my nails, whimpering in random corners, or howling the cry of an eager writer ready to publish her first book.

I had written a first draft, rewritten it several times, then sent it off to beta-readers. After I got their feedback, I rewrote it again. I had another reader review the revised version. I incorporated their feedback, then I sent it off to an editor.

It took time. My nerves were a bit wracked. And I was spent. But that said…

How do you really know when it’s time to get an editor? 

  • After you’ve revised your draft one or two more times based on comments from readers.
  • When you can’t figure out what’s wrong with your WIP.
  • When you know exactly what is wrong with it, but you don’t know how to fix it.
  • When you can’t find the forest from the trees, and you’ve started doodling leaves in the margins of your manuscript.
  • When you’ve looked at your manuscript so much that your eyes are crossing.
  • When it’s as good as you can make it.
  • When you are spent.
  • And to be more concrete, some say that after your third rewrite, it’s a good time.

Jane Friedman says it perfectly in her post, “you need to hand over your manuscript at the point where there’s no improvement left for you to make on your own.”

When is not the right time?

This post notes: Editor Shawn Coyne, who has 25 years of experience, expresses the problem succinctly and memorably: “A lot of people just want to dump their goo on an editor and have the editor form that into something for them.”

Not cool. And this Write Life article explains why.

So how do you find an editor? There are many. But here are 7. Because 7 is a good number.

  1. Twitter
    • Do a Twitter search for the following, with or without hashtags, to get leads on editors:
      • #editor
      • #editing
      • #amediting
  2. Google
    • Search for the following on Google:
      • fiction editor
      • manuscript editor
      • book editor
    • I found my editor this way. I went with Book Editing Associates.
  3. Writer’s Group
    • If you belong to a writer’s group, it’s possible that your peers may have a recommendation for you.
  4. Associations
    • There are associations, like Editorial Freelancers Association, which are devoted to this service. Generic freelance portals, such as freelancer.com, have all sorts of freelancers for hire, including editors. Some extra research may help determine if a specific freelancer is a good fit.
  5. Library
    • I saw a flier at my local library—an editor giving away 3 free 30-minute sessions, in-person. What?! You can’t beat that.
  6. LinkedIn Discussion Groups
    • There are some really informative online, writer-oriented discussion groups on LinkedIn. People post their questions and group participants provide answers. It’s raw, vulnerable, and relatable. I’ve seen questions about editors pop up several times. These groups are a good place for writers who either want to sleuth covertly or participate actively.
  7. Word-of-Mouth
    • Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody—and that Joe- or Jane-somebody may have used an editor. Or better yet, that somebody may actually be an editor, which means you might get a friends-and-family discount. Jackpot.

As I was researching editors, I noticed that some have fixed pricing, where they charge a certain amount per word. Others may vary their pricing based on what the writer needs. Either way, it’s good to get an estimate before signing with them.

Also, find out when they can start working on your manuscript, and determine if it works for your schedule. How long it will take them to complete the review, and how many rounds of edits are included in their price? Reviews on a website from happy writers are helpful, too.

Have you found an editor that you liked and what to share in the comments section? 

Before you go, check out these related posts:

Revising the First Draft—My Story

Relationship status with my second draft: It’s complicated.

Quick Points on Rewriting the First Line, First Paragraph, First Chapter

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

 

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