A book editor plays a major role in writing a good fiction book. However, finding the best editor isn’t that easy.
If you’ve already begun looking for one, you probably know how frustrating or incredibly expensive hiring an editor can be. Finding the right editor is a little like dating – you have to meet a number of “dates” before you can find your best match!
So, how do you look for and select the best editor for your fiction book?
If there’s one thing that can definitely help you in choosing the best editor that would be: understanding the editing process.
Editing is NOT a one-off deal. It involves a number of stages as discussed in the book Excellent Editing: The Writing Process by William Bernhardt. A fiction book goes through each of these steps, starting with developmental editing and ending with a final proofread before it gets published.
Not every manuscript is at the same stage of the editing process. This means different manuscripts require a different level of editing service. The type of service also determines the editorial rates. For instance, some manuscripts would only require proofreading for typos or minor errors while others would need a complete overhaul. Picking an editor would largely depend on your manuscript. So you have to honestly review and evaluate your own work to know which part of the editing process your book is at.
Once you’ve self-evaluated your book, it’s time to look for an editor. When looking for one, you’ll likely encounter the following basic editing services:
- Developmental Editing – The first step involves heavy editing, developmental editing examines the plot, structure, and entirety of the fiction book.
- Manuscript Evaluation – In this stage, the editor gives a critique of your draft. It gives you an overall review of the manuscript and provides valuable input on what the next step should be, either run another developmental edit or move to line editing or get it published right away.
- Line Editing – This stage of editing is focused on style. The editor reviews each line and looks for clarity, flow, and tone. It aims to refine every line of the book to make it clear, structured, and cohesive.
- Copy Editing – In this stage, the editor addresses grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and consistency of facts.
- Proofreading – The last stage of editing. Proofreading checks the book’s formatting consistency, spacing, typos, and repeated words.
Not all editors use the same terms for their services. For example, Fictionedit.com does not use any of these terms in their website although their editing services basically cover the same editing stages.
So, to be sure, you have to clarify with your prospective editor the exact description and inclusions in each of the services they offer. As much as possible, ask for a free consultation to gauge the kind of service your potential editor offers. Ask about the rates and compare with others. Usually, the price depends on the editing service your manuscript needs and the number of words or pages. The rates may also vary depending on the experience of the editor.
Indeed, looking for an editor is just like dating. This might sound cheesy, but you really have to know yourself first before you can start looking for what you need and what you want. The same is true when looking for a fiction book editor. You have to know what level of editing your manuscript needs before you can start looking for the best editor.