How to Find an Editor for Your Book
If automated book editing apps aren’t for you, then it’s time to look for a human editor for your book. But how do you go about that? In this post, we’ll look at the best way to find an editor for a novel, non-fiction book, or other manuscript.
How to Find an Editor for Your Book
There are many different ways to find an editor, but perhaps the easiest and most reliable method is to use a dedicated book editing service from a company like Scribendi.
Here’s how it works. You go to the website, pick the level of service you want, and get an instant quote for how much it will cost based on the length of your manuscript. Services include:
- manuscript critique
- manuscript editing
- manuscript proofreading
- script editing
- creating a query package (letter, synopsis, outline)
- ebook editing and proofreading
- ebook formatting
You then submit your manuscript and have one of Scribendi’s editors work on it. Scribendi uses only experienced editors with extensive knowledge of the English language and of the book world, and the company also has a rigorous quality control process in place. That’s why we recommend Scribendi ahead of other freelance services available around the web, where there’s much less guarantee of high-quality results.
Depending on how long your book is and which service you choose, you could get the edited version back in anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks. Get a free quote from Scribendi.
Other Ways to Find a Book Editor
Although we recommend Scribendi, there are also plenty of other options, of course. Here are some of them.
The downside is that you have much less quality assurance. These are general freelance marketplaces, and they’re not focused on editing as Scribendi is. There’s less quality control, and a less rigorous process for freelancers to join the platforms. You can check other customers’ reviews and ratings, of course, but that only goes so far.
Bottom line: if you’re on a tight budget and just need a quick scan to get rid of the worst errors, freelance marketplaces are a decent option.
Editors and proofreaders often come together to form associations, and these associations often have directories or listings on their websites. So find the appropriate organisation in your area, and look for a member.
For example, in the UK, you could try the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), or in the U.S. you could try the Editorial Freelancers Association.
The good part about finding an editor for your book this way is that you have some assurance of quality because they’re part of a larger association that may charge membership fees or impose quality standards (check if this is true in your area).
The downside is that it’s up to you to contact editors individually, collect quotes, negotiate fees, clarify expectations, etc. This can be very time-consuming, and the fees charged by professional editors can be very high. But if you have the time and money to pursue this avenue, you should get a good result.
Probably the worst way to find an editor for your book is just to do a broad internet search. In that case, the people you’re finding are not necessarily the best editors—they’re just the people with the best websites or the ones who’ve paid an SEO expert to boost their rankings in the search engines.
You may find a great editor this way, but you may also get burnt. If you use this route, remember that everything will be on you. Before you pay any money or commit to anything, be sure to ask for references and follow up with previous clients to check those references. And contact several different editors, so that you can compare the prices charged and the services provided, to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.
Why Find an Editor for Your Book?
But hey, why do you even need to find an editor for your book? Can’t you just do it yourself?
The do-it-yourself route is one possible option, and it does have its merits in certain circumstances. If you’re confident in your grammatical knowledge, if you know the theory of writing a book inside out, and if you believe you can get enough distance from your own book to be able to judge it and edit it effectively, then by all means go solo.
In this case, you can also use book editing software to help you out. For example, AutoCrit will go through your manuscript and compare the plot to best-sellers to analyse it and recommend improvements. And you can use Grammarly to point out the typos and grammar flubs, as well as conducting more in-depth editing in the premium version.
But for many writers, there’s still no substitute for a real human editor. For one thing, it’s very tough to get enough emotional distance from your book to analyse it objectively. “Kill your darlings” may be classic editorial advice, but it’s much easier said than done. If you’ve spent months carving out a storyline at great emotional cost, it takes a lot to admit that it’s not working and you need to completely rewrite it or even cut it out.
There’s also the issue of expertise. Writing and editing are two very different skills, and a good writer can’t necessarily edit a manuscript any more than a good editor can write a best-seller. Experienced editors bring their own skills and expertise to your manuscript and can greatly enhance it, not just by correcting mistakes but by suggesting new structures, plot improvements, and a whole lot more.
Even great writers relied heavily on great editors—Raymond Carver, for example, famously worked with longtime editor Gordon Lish to develop the pared-back style that he’s now known for. Lish’s editing played a huge role in Carver’s success.
Ideally, of course, you wouldn’t have to hire an editor yourself—you’d just get a publisher to edit the manuscript for you. But these days, mainstream publishers are increasingly focused on the bottom line. They’re investing less in editing and more in marketing. For the most part, they expect a manuscript to be in very good shape before they’ll even take it on, so that they work they have to do is minimal.
So it makes sense to hire an editor to give yourself the best possible chance of success. For quality and ease of use, we recommend Scribendi, but if you have other suggestions, we’d love to hear them in the comments!