Finding the Perfect Editor

Don’t we all wish there was one!

No matter how experienced any of us may be, we ALL need a fresh pair of eyes on our writing. Even editors need other editors. So, here’s what I look for when searching for someone to edit my own work.

Editing booksFirst, I need to answer the question, “What kind of editing does my work need?”

And what do I mean by “editing”? Because my definition of editing may not be the same as yours.

  • Big Picture: That would be a developmental editor, someone who can point out flaws in the flow of my novel, or the logic and structure of my nonfiction book. For more details about the different types of editing, check out this Editorial Freelancers Association’s article.
  • Nuts and bolts: Or maybe I’m comfortable with the overall structure of my piece, but I need someone to look for stray typos and grammatical errors,  or to confirm that Figure 4 comes before Figure 5, or do some basic fact-checking—and make sure my piece conforms to the correct style manual for the market I’m aiming for. In that case, I need a copy editor.
  • Final pair of obsessively nit-picking eyes: A proofreader does exactly what the word says: They read proofs of the draft printed copy against the original text to make sure nothing got left out—or added in by mistake, such as “NEW TITLE SHOULD GO HERE.” Proofreaders also look for formatting errors, widows, orphans, and rivers of type, and any mistakes the copy editor might have missed.

In addition, I want to feel as if the editor I hire is on my team, that we are working together to help my work be the very best it can be, and that she will let my voice be mine—and not hers.

Paying an Editor

Good, thorough, professional editing takes time—which means it’s not cheap. Nor should it be. Some editors charge by the hour, others by the page, still others by the word. And some, like me, may charge by any of those, depending on the work.

When we write, we make a promise to readers: that they’ll be entertained enough to escape Real Life, or maybe that they’ll learn to de-clutter that closet—this time. If I’m doing a developmental edit, I’ll need your whole manuscript. Whether your book is fact or fiction, I’ll need to read it all to see if you, as the writer, have delivered on that promise you made to the reader. For that, I charge by the hour. (You’ll be happy to know I read fast.)

When I’m copy editing someone else’s work, I offer a range of prices, starting at 2 cents per word and ranging upwards, depending on how much work is needed to clean up the text or how hard it is to read. A mystery novel generally goes faster than a dissertation.

If I’m proofreading a project that’s already been designed and laid out, I charge by the printed page.

Am I a perfect editor? Nope.

But email me to see if, together, we can make your project as perfect as it can be.


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