What to Look for in an Editor with Megan Gerig

Photo ID: A pen rests on an open notebook on a white desk next to a white iPad and three succulent plants. Text is black and reads, “On Writing: Prepping for Publication.”

Editor and writer Megan Gerig explains how to find the best editor for your book!

Photo ID: A woman wearing a sweater holds a silver pen and rests her hands on the pages of her marked-up manuscript, going through the editing process. Text is blue and reads, “What to Look for in an Editor.”

You’ve done it. You’ve finally typed “The End!”

You’ve shoveled down a pint (or gallon) of ice cream and several rolls of sushi in celebration, and you’re ready for the next step—editing. But how do you find a quality editor who can see your vision for your story? How do you find an editor that can help you reach your writing goals?

Finding a good editor isn’t easy. Do a quick Google search for “freelance fiction editor” and thousands of results will pop up. But how do you know which editor is right for your story (and for your budget)?

Below are three things to look for before hiring an editor:

1) Someone who is willing to get to know you and your story.

Have you ever contacted an editor and all they seemed to want is your money? Before you even think about booking an editor for your story, take some time to watch their interactions on social media. Are they strictly professional or are they pleasant and conversational? Are they all about promoting themselves or are they more about helping others?

After watching them on social media for a while, interact with them and talk with them. A good editor will want to develop a relationship with you because that’s how they will best be able to learn your vision for your story and help you turn that vision into reality. They will take the time to ask you questions about your story and not only deliver a quality edit but also work with you on solving your story’s issues.

Doing some research on the editor that you want to hire and talking with them will go a long way in figuring out if they are the right fit for you.

2) Someone who specializes in your genre.

Are you a fantasy author? Then find an editor who specializes in fantasy. Do you write historical fiction? Then find an editor who specializes in historical fiction. Editors who specialize in a specific genre will better know the publishing industry and what works/doesn’t work for that specific genre. For example, if you write fantasy but hire an editor that mainly works with crime/thriller, the editor will most likely not understand what makes a fantasy novel successful in the publishing world since they are not as familiar with that genre. Paying this editor will then not be the best use of your money.

It’s crucial to find an editor who specializes in your genre because they will not only be able to help polish your manuscript according to your vision, but they will teach you the industry standards of your genre and help you adhere to those in order to better sell your story.

3) Someone who specializes in the type of editing your seeking.

Every editor possesses a different skill set. There are developmental/content editors, copyeditors, line editors, and proofreaders all available to you. Before booking an editor then, it’s important to know the meaning of each of these types of edits and which one you need for your manuscript.

A developmental/content editor will keep your target audience in mind all throughout the editing process. They’ll address any issues in regards to plot, characterization, theme, and setting and give suggestions for improvement and rewriting.

A copyeditor will correct grammar, ensure consistency in spelling, adhere all punctuation and capitalization to the house style, and track any inconsistencies such as character hair/eye color, clothing style, etc.

A line editor will look at your writing style and the words that you’ve used. They’ll make sure your sentences, paragraphs, pages, and chapters are clear and enjoyable for readers and that each word used is precise and conveys the right, clear message.

A proofreader will go through your manuscript for the final time to correct and remaining errors before publication. It focuses on finding and fixing incorrect grammar, punctuation, spelling, verb tenses, and other mechanical errors.

If you are a new author hiring an editor for the first time, a developmental edit will most likely be the best fit for you. If you are a more experienced author getting ready to publish, a copyeditor or proofreader may be more in line with your goals.

Before booking with an editor, take the time to do the proper research and make sure they are the right fit for you. The best editor for your manuscript will develop a relationship with you, know your genre, and polish your story in the way that is needed.

Photo ID: Megan Gerig

Megan Gerig has been known as the hermit in Spare Oom to her family. She prefers reading to socializing, and by middle school, even the librarian had difficulty recommending a book she hadn’t read. Besides reading and writing, Megan enjoys baking muffins (and licking the bowl), gardening, and evening walks. She lives in a cottage in the midst of a busy city with her librarian husband and book-devouring son and is a freelance writer and editor at www.mgliteraryservices.com.

You can also find her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/librarianswife/

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