Though the thought of handing the fruits of your labor over to an editor might make you start biting your nails, it’s an essential leap to take. Here’s why:
- It’s not just about grammar. Yes, as a grammar nerd myself, I think it’s incredibly smart to have someone else comb through for errors that could diminish your credibility. But in most cases, there are also parts of the content that could be revisited on a substantive level to improve flow, tone, and clarity. An editor can identify those issues for you.
- Because you’ve read your text so many times, there’s no way you can approach it with the fresh eyes of someone reading it for the first time. An editor can give you that advantage by providing you with feedback from the perspective of a reader.
- You might also be surprised by how often writers unknowingly plagiarize or fail to give appropriate credit to original sources. Having an expert double check your work can help you avoid nasty legal ramifications in the future.
- If you’re planning on publishing, other people are going to see your writing anyway. And if you collaborate with an editor, your final product will be far better.
What Does Working with an Editor Look Like?
Working with an editor to sculpt your content is a truly collaborative process. It usually takes two or more rounds of back and forth, during which you receive feedback and have the opportunity to revise.
You can dictate how that process works. Would you like the editor to correct grammatical and structural issues as he or she goes along, or would you like those issues to be highlighted so you can fix them yourself?
How would you like to handle comments? Are you a Word or Google doc kind of person? Let the editor know what best fits your style. If you’re not sure, ask for their advice.
Don’t Get Defensive
Seeing your piece marked up with comments can send you directly into a flashback from high school, during which you may have been plagued by a teacher’s red pen. But keep in mind, your editor is trying to help make your writing exceptional. Take a deep breath and approach comments one at a time. You’re likely to find that many are minor; others may need to be looked at more closely.
It’s also important to remember that you are the author; you have the right to take or leave any feedback. Just consider your reasoning carefully before determining that you are going to forego a change.
How to Find the Right Editor for You
One of the first things you should do is figure out your budget. How much can you realistically spend on editing services? Some editors use flat rates, but the majority will base cost estimates on the time involved and their typical hourly rate.
An experienced editor will want to know the length of the text and see at least a sample of it before giving an estimate. Perusing a bit of the content will help them determine what level of editing will be required.
Also be prepared to give your own thoughts on what kind of help you’re looking for. You’re the best resource when it comes to understanding the current state of your piece and the work that still needs to be done.
If you’re entering into a new relationship with an editor, you may also want to inquire about a test run. Ask if you can pay a flat fee for one chapter to be edited. Then you can look it over and see if the changes and comments are what you’re looking for. Having had a taste of the process, you’ll then be better equipped to seek other options or proceed with confidence.