Whilst writing your book, an editor may seem like one of those ‘workhands’ a publisher will simply assign to you after they hand you your six-figure cheque and your shiny new ‘Author’ badge, as they most surely will. When you finish your book, however, the reality is decidedly less ‘red carpet’.
Type ‘literary editor’ into Google and you’ll invariably find some kind of page espousing the title “Do I really need an Editor?” And it’s a good question. As mentioned in a previous article, editors really can be worth every penny you spend on them. Just as long as those pennies are spent on the right one.
Where To Start
You’ll find good editors on the usual haunts like Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr, and they’re a great place to get an idea of what the general prices are for editing services, but beware the dreaded ‘rates too good to be true’: chances are, their fictional appearances are well-earned and they’re just as likely to be reading your manuscript during their coffee breaks as they are spending your money on better editors for their own work.
So while you can definitely find a potentially amazing editor for an amazing price on these sites, the chances are slim, and I don’t like to take chances with my writing.
A Marketplace for Editors
A lot of top editors, especially those who’ve worked for the big publishers in the past and are now freelance, such as Jane Friedman and Kristen Weber, and have their own websites you can use to contact them. If these are out of your price-league then one of the best, and least known, places to look is the Publishers Marketplace. Here you’ll not only find some great freelance editors but they’ll also say, as in the case of Barbara Ellis, exactly the kind of books they’re looking to work on. (By the way, I don’t know Ms. Ellis, nor earn any commission from plugging her page. I’m just a nice guy and she seems legit.)
And that really is the key to finding the right editor. This isn’t a ‘send and wait for an email’ kind of job, you’ll be working with this person for weeks, if not months, and you’ll be ceding a lot of your hard work to their advice, so you want the person who’ll do well by you and by your book.
Relying On An Old Favorite
So many budding writers carpet-bomb editors with their pitches/manuscripts and this is both a waste of your time and theirs. Find out what an editor likes and has published in the past and you’re more likely to find the right person for the job, as well as have a chance of coaxing them over to work with you. You could also do worse than picking up your favourite book, turning over the first couple of pages to find out who the editor was and sending your work to them directly, if it’s of a similar vein.
If said favourite book was edited in the mid-nineteenth century, however, a more modern favourite may provide you with one who’s still breathing. Another desirable attribute in an editor.
Face To Face…book
There is one other route I want to mention before signing off, and that’s Facebook.
That’s right, the social network that both your 10 year old niece and 85 year old grandmother are using can be a vital stop in your search for the perfect editor. There are many groups out there that focus on writing, and that’s a great place to find editors lurking in the shadows, giving their helpful 2 cents. While this is much better than simply googling for your editor, you still must be careful when you think you found the right one. Make sure to do your research, ask around, and watch for that “too good to be true” pricing.
There is a Facebook group where you can find many Steam Powered people, editors, writers, and clients, named Writers Helping Writers. With monthly Q&A’s, a lot of free content, and more, it’s one of the up and coming groups for writers! If you join, make sure to let us know you came from Steam Powered Dreams!
Don’t forget that we have editors right here on Steam Powered Dreams, whom I definitely do know but are still legit, in an albeit crazy and steam-loving kind of way. Our rates are more than competitive, they’ve been called ALMOST too good to be true…I said almost! We also offer many different discounts throughout the year! Check out our Writer Services for more information.
Besides the wonderful advice, I really enjoyed the tasteful spicing of humor in this potentially-dry article. Thanks for the info, AND the chuckle.
Thanks for reading, Micahel!