Choosing an editor for your self-published book? 4 questions to ask

What to look for in an editor

When you’re hiring someone to pick your book apart and put it back together as they see fit, correcting all of those pesky apostrophes and typos as they go, you want to make sure you find the right person.

So how do you do choose an editor? Everyone can say, do or be anything online, so how do you know whether they really live up to their website? Here are some things to consider when choosing your editor.


How experienced is your potential editor?

What is your editor’s background? Do they have an editing qualification, and have they worked in the field for long? How many clients have they worked with? And, most importantly, have they worked on books like yours?

It’s very easy for someone to set up a WordPress website and say they have X years of experience with X happy clients. When choosing an editor, your job is to make sure this is true. So take a look at their LinkedIn profile, request testimonials from previous clients, and even contact those clients to learn more about how your editor works. Doing your research can save a lot of time and money.


Can the editor work within your budget and time frame?

When do you need your manuscript reviewed, and how much can you afford? It doesn’t matter how good an editor is, if they’re charging 15 cents a word and you only have a $500 budget, you aren’t going to be a match. Likewise, if they’re booked out six months in advance and you need your book turned around by the end of the month, you’ll have to keep looking to find someone who can work in your time frames.

That being said, if you can’t find any editors who can work with your budget and time frame, that might say more about your expectations than your editor. Editors are qualified professionals who provide a valuable service, and they charge accordingly for their time. Additionally, experienced editors are often booked out from a few weeks to a few months in advance, so you’ll have to take that into consideration if you want a five-day turnaround.


Do they have samples of their previous work?

One of the most important thing to ask for when choosing an editor is some samples of their work.

Good editors should be able to provide samples – either examples of work they’ve done with previous clients, or they may volunteer to do some sample edits on your work. While they may have a Masters in Editing and Publishing and years of editing experience, the only way you’ll really know if they can meet your needs is by seeing their work.


Do you like them?

The most important element in choosing an editor is whether or not you two have a rapport. Remember, this is your creative work they’ll be working on, so you need to be sure that it’s in the best possible hands. You need someone who understands your vision, respects your message and can work with your voice, not someone who’ll drown out your thoughts with their own.

If it doesn’t feel like a match, then it probably isn’t. If you’ve found someone who meets the first three criteria but the partnership just doesn’t feel right, keep searching until you find one that is.