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Finding the Right Editor

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

It's imperative you find the right editor for you.

There are so many choices and variables to selecting an editor, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Let's start with these three questions.

What kind of editing I need?

Where do I look?

How much should I pay?

What kind of editing I need?

I blogged about this! I will give you an overview in this post, but you can read the long version here.

4 Types of Editing

  1. Developmental - Big-picture stuff. Plot structure, characters, character arcs, conflicts, tension, pacing, worldbuilding

  2. Line - Sentence level. Each line and word choice are assessed for clarity, variation, necessity. A lot of sentence restructuring.

  3. Copy - Grammar fixes, strong verb use, and a little sentence restructuring.

  4. Proofreading - Punctuation, capitalization, page numbering.

Professional editors usually offer more than one level or round as we like to call them.

Where do I look?

You can perform a search for editors who specialize your genre and the editing level you need. You can always combine these search terms.

A few examples

  • Speculative fiction editor

  • Crime fiction editor

  • Fantasy fiction editor

  • Developmental editor fiction

  • Line editor fiction

Sites like the EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association), PEN (Professional Editors Network), and ACES (American Copy Editors Society) are great places to start.

All have member directories, which you can filter by genre and editing level specialty.

Once you run a search on these sites, read their profiles.

What does their bio say about them? They have probably written it themselves, so the tone speaks to their personality. If they speak to you, research further.

Choose between 5-8 editors.

Go to their websites and see what their range of services, how much they charge (if listed), read their ‘about’ page.

Narrow your choices to three, based on the vibe you get from them.

Make contact

Now that you've selected the editors you want to contact, shoot them an email saying you are interested in their services.

Ask how much they charge for a specific type of edit and if they provide a sample edit.

Most editors will respond within 48 hours on weekdays.

Get a sample edit

Most editors perform sample edits from 1,000 to 2000 words. Ask if the sample edit is free. Some charge for the time they spend on the sample. It's usually a small fee.

Developmental editors may ask for a few chapters as this round looks at the larger picture.

After you receive your sample edits back, review and compare them.

Chances are at least one will seem like a good fit.

If not, go back to those 5-8 you chose from before and repeat the email and sample editing process.

Of course, if you are still having trouble finding the right fit, go back to the professional editing sites and search their directories again.

Meet the editor

After you decide you love the sample edit, schedule a chat with them.

During the chat, talk to them for a bit to get a sense of their personality and see if you mesh well with them. They will be reading and assessing your novel and making suggestions for improvements.

Your relationship might be long lasting, so it's important you get along with them.

Share your vision for your fiction novel and listen to their reaction.

Ask how much their services will cost you.

How much should I pay?

That's the big question, isn't it?

Many professional editors use the EFA’s average rates as a guideline for pricing.

You might find an editor who doesn’t fall within this range.

The reasons for that are varied but using the average to see if the editor you chose is charging a reasonable rate is helpful.

For a professional edit of 100,000 words, expect to pay between:

$4,000 - $6,000 - Developmental editing

$5,000 - $8,000 - Line editing

$3,000 - $5,000 - Copyediting

$2,000 - $4000 - Proofreading

Yeah, it's a lot. Which is why I recommend not waiting to save up.

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Happy Writing!

I'm a fiction editor, specializing in developmental, line, and copy editing of speculative and crime fiction.

Write in these genres? Let's chat!

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter. I only send one or two per month, and they are filled with writing and editing tips and tricks.

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