If you’re a first-time author, you’ve likely never worked with a professional editor. If that’s the case, then there are a few things you should know, from choosing the right editor to understanding the editing process. By working effectively with your editor, you can make certain your book will be engaging and interesting — and that it will help you accomplish the goals you’ve set for it. This means success for you and for your business.
1. Choose the right editor
If you’re working with a publisher (whether a traditional publisher or a reputable service publisher), they’ll already have vetted the editors you’ll work with. But if you’re hiring an editor directly, it can be difficult to know how to select the right one. There are so many out there, but which one is right for you? Here’s how to do your due diligence and get the right person on your team.
You need to consider four things when choosing an editor:
· Experience. Look for an editor who has experience editing books similar to yours. They don’t need to have specific topic knowledge — after all, that’s your job. But if you’ve written a how-to book related to your business and your editor only has experience editing fiction, then they’re probably not the best fit.
· Qualifications. A professional degree or certification in writing, editing, English, or a related field is a good sign. It means the editor has the necessary foundational skills needed to whip your manuscript into tip-top shape.
· References. The editor may have testimonials on their website or professional profile, which can help you choose someone others have enjoyed working with — and got results from. If they don’t have any testimonials on their website, ask for a couple of references.
· Samples. Similarly, request editing samples to get a feel for the editor’s work. Seeing before and after samples can really help you understand what kind of output you can expect when you work with them.
2. Communicate your goals
Despite their god-like powers, even the best editors aren’t mind readers. Without knowing your goals, your editor can only focus on the editorial aspects of your book. That’s important, but insufficient. To get real results, share your strategy and goals related to your book with your editor. That way, they’ll understand what your vision is, and that will guide them as they edit.
3. Understand the process
The specific process a publisher or editor follows varies from one to the next — as do the issues they address and the output they provide to you. It’s important to understand how your editor works and the type of editing they’ll provide, so you’ll know what’s needed from you and what you’ll get back from them.
4. Do the work
Even if your editor will make most of the changes for you (and confirm if that’s the case), the process is a collaborative one. It’s all about teamwork, so you’ll need to do some hard work, too. When your manuscript comes back from an edit, it should have changes tracked and include detailed comments explaining what was changed, and why. Comments may also include questions for you and notes about new content your editor recommends you create. When you receive all this, you’ll need to go through the edited document carefully and do the following:
· Accept or reject changes your editor made. If you reject a change, add a comment of your own explaining why you’ve done so. Otherwise, the change might come back in the next round of editing.
· Answer any questions your editor has asked you. Questions from your editor often ask you to clarify something. Other times, a question is more for you to consider, offering different suggestions depending on your answer.
· Write any additional content that your editor recommends you add in. Creating new content is often the most time-consuming work required of you between edits. Although your editor won’t write large sections of new content for you, a good editor will provide clear notes about what to add, and why. They’ll also often give you tips on which specific points to include in the new content you write.
Remember: always track your changes and add comments of your own so the next edit goes smoothly. Otherwise, you’ll confuse both yourself and your editor to tears!
5. Trust the experts
Finally, trust your editor. Accept what they have to say about your writing, even if it isn’t pretty. When you’re working with them, maintain an attitude that’s open, collaborative, and non-defensive. Sure, it can be a real emotional challenge to accept critical feedback when it comes to something as personal as your book — something you’ve worked on for so long, and that means so much to you. But remember: Your editor’s job isn’t to coddle you. While a good editor, like a good coach, is skilled at giving feedback constructively, it can sometimes feel harsh. If it feels that way, let the feeling go. Instead…
Heed the advice of your editor, who’s working hard to make you shine by refining your book into its absolute best possible form while retaining your ideas and your voice. Of course, you should discuss things you’re unsure of or uncomfortable with, especially if you feel your intent has been misconstrued — but don’t take the feedback personally.
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