Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
More writers are hiring editors these days, whether they’re going indie or just making sure the manuscript is polished before submitting to agents and publishers. If you’re a newer writer, unpublished, here are some things I think you should do before spending your hard-earned money on a freelance editor.
(1) Get objective feedback.
Run your work past a critique group or partner, if possible. Try to get the most honest feedback you can—not on grammar and punctuation, but on the overall content of your book. Are readers finding the book engaging? Are they reading to the end? Are they confused?
Find fiction resources HERE. My favorites for the revision phase are Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King, and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell.
Hiring an editor is like hiring a housekeeper. You don’t hire someone to clear your clutter and sort your mail. In fact, before the housekeeper comes, most of us run around like crazy picking up, because we pay the housekeeper to do the hard stuff. The “cleaner” your manuscript is, the more your editor can help you make it really shine.
(3) Understand and follow 3-act structure.
This is for fiction and memoir. PLEASE don’t underestimate the importance of story structure. If your editor has to spend the bulk of her time fixing your structure and educating you about it, you won’t get the best value for your editing money. You can learn structure on your own—and probably, your book won’t work without it. A couple of helpful resources are Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.
(4) Read your book out loud to catch awkwardness and poor phrasing.
This is especially helpful to make sure fiction dialogue is snappy and believable. But it helps with any kind of writing. Often when you read it aloud, you’ll catch problems you’d never spot by reading silently. Another trick is to print out your manuscript—again, you’ll catch things you might not have when reading on the screen.
(5) Make sure your editor has edited published books.
It’s difficult to verify the legitimacy and credentials of each editor. So do your best to verify that they’ve edited books that have been published by traditional publishers. It’s your best bet for getting a good edit.
Here are some freelance editors. There are a lot more out there in internet-land! Do your research.
Have you used a freelance editor? Tell us about your experience.