I asked myself this question last February and after looking at many sites in Utah and outside, too, I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for. All of the editing services I found were doing it the old-fashioned way of having the writer print a manuscript on paper and mailing it to them. They would then mark it up and mail it back.

I wanted someone who used the “change tracking” and “review/comment” utilities in most word processors to do the work. I wanted to just email the editor my document, have them mark it up and email it back and I then work the edits in the document, accepting some and rejecting others.

Finally, I went onto KSL.com and posted a job with these qualifications. I received about 25 hits of which five were qualified. I then sent them a document to edit and they sent it back. I made my choice from that.

It worked out very well. We went through the entire book and now it [self-published].

Makes me wonder how you do this.

I pretty much do it the way you described. Almost all my work is electronic until we get to the press proof stage.

As for finding an LDS editor, they’re all over the place. Editors: Want to put your links in the comments?

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Part 1: How to Work with an Editor

[LDSP note: So many of my clients have made a bad match with an editor. I once had a self-published author who approached me about traditionally publishing or distributing their book. After reading the first chapter, I told them they needed to have it edited. They told me they’d already spent $2000 on an edit. And it was horrid!!! Incomplete sentences, verb tense issues, punctuation… My heart just broke for them. Editing is very much a “buyer beware” situation. I am very glad Tristi wrote this post and I support every sentence 100%!]

Yesterday, I blogged about how to work with an editor. Today, I’m blogging about how to look for—and find—a good editor. Perhaps I went about that backwards.

As a note of explanation, yesterday’s post was applicable to every author, whether they are self-published or traditionally published. Today’s post will be most beneficial to authors who either self-publish or are looking for a freelance editor to help them prepare to submit traditionally—once you sign with a publishing company, they will assign an editor to you, so you will not need to search for one.

So, let us begin. You’ve finished your manuscript and you’ve sent it through some trusted readers. You’ve incorporated their feedback, and you are ready to send it to an editor. How should you go about this? What should you avoid?

There are some fantastic editors out there, some pretty good editors out there, and some (quite frankly) frightening editors out there. About ten of my clients were badly burned by their editors, came hunting for help in desperation, found me (makes it sound like they had to be desperate to end up choosing me …) and sent me the manuscript after their editor had worked it over. In each of these cases, I have been appalled at the kinds of mistakes left in the manuscript. No editor worthy of the title would ever have left a manuscript in that condition. So it is with that in mind that  I write this blog today—to help you avoid that kind of frustration.

How do you find an editor?

You can go on Google and do a search for freelance editors, but word of mouth always has been and always will be the best way to find a good or a service. People love to talk about their good experiences and their bad. Ask your author friends who they use and recommend. Ask them who they do not recommend. And after they have given you a name or two, ask them the following things:

1. Did the editor treat them well?

2. Did the editor charge them a fair price?

3. Did the editor turn the job around when promised?

4. Did they deliver the kind of edit they promised?

5. Did the editor make any mistakes in the edit, and if so, were they apologetic, or did they get defensive about it?

6. Did the editor explain things clearly? Were they open to questions, and did they answer them respectfully?

7.  If they could change one thing about their editor, what would they change?

After you’ve spoken with your friend and you feel good about the answers they gave, visit that editor’s website and find out the following things:

1. Have they posted a list of books they edited? Are you familiar with any of their previous work? Note: Some brand-new editors are awesome, so if they don’t have a huge list of titles. That’s not necessarily a bad sign.

2. Are their rates compatible with what you can afford, and are they reasonable? Reasonable: $1.00 a page is not unheard of for a new editor, while $3.00 is pretty typical for a seasoned editor. The amount of work that will go into the edit also comes into play—some editors charge a little more if the edit will be complex.

3. Do they offer a sample of their work? Many editors will do a few pages for free, or will do twenty pages for a reasonable fee. This gives you the chance to see if you like their style, but it also gives them the chance to see if they like working with you.

4. Do they work with your genre? This is key! Don’t waste your time querying an editor who doesn’t work with (or enjoy reading) the genre you write, or who doesn’t do the type of edit you need.

If you still like what you see, contact that editor and ask them any other questions that might have risen to the surface. These might include:

1. How long does an edit usually take?

2. Do you ask for money down?

3. How long do I have to pay my bill? What methods of payment do you accept?

4. What system do you have in place just in case one of us is unhappy with the arrangement? (The author should be happy with the editor, but the editor should also be happy with the author.)

5. When is your next available slot?

6. What format should I use when sending my manuscript?

Some of these questions might be answered on the editor’s website, but feel free to ask any others that might be important to you.

You may find the most awesome editor right off the bat and fall madly in love with them and never leave them, or you may find that search to be a little more tricky. To help weed out the editors who will not be as beneficial to you, I suggest:

1. Take them up on that free sample, if offered. If they don’t offer one, be gutsy and ask. Say, “My friend (insert friend’s name here) recommended you, and I’d like to see if our styles are compatible. Would you do a three-page free sample for me?” If they give you lip, they probably aren’t the editor for you anyway. If you don’t care for their style from those three pages, you can thank them for their time and be under no obligation to hire them.

2. If you get a sample back and it just doesn’t seem right to you, ask another editor for a sample, and send in the same segment. Then compare the two. Of course they’ll each point out different things when it comes to the subjective parts of editing, but they should both find the same typos, etc. If you find that the first sample doesn’t match the second and is missing several important corrections (or the second sample doesn’t match the first), that will tell you who is going to be the more thorough editor.

3. Google the name of the editor and see who might have posted positive or negative comments about them online.

4. Make sure you have an out if the editor didn’t come with enough recommendations to make you feel comfortable. Start with a fifty-page edit, and if you like what you see, finish it out. Any time you have doubt, start with a partial. You don’t want to get halfway through an edit, decide you can’t stand each other, still have money owing on one side or work owed on the other, and create a really awkward parting of the ways.

This needs to go two ways. If the author can’t work with the editor, or if the editor can’t work with the author, either one of them should have the option to pull out. But discuss this before you begin any work. Know what the parameters are for that type of situation.

Now, I’m probably making this all sound a lot more complicated than it really has to be. Most authors get referrals from their friends, they trust that editor, they work well together, and they don’t have any issues whatsoever. But we don’t all have author friends with great editors, or maybe that editor is booked and we need to find someone else. These tips will hopefully help you to narrow down what you need and aid in the search for that editor you will love to work with for years to come.

Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com or her website at www.tristipinkston.com.

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How to Work with an Editor by Tristi Pinkston

October 24, 2012
Thumbnail image for How to Work with an Editor by Tristi Pinkston

Believe me, I know how you feel. You’ve written a book, it’s taken you months/years/decades, you have large chunks of it memorized because you’ve gone over it so many times, and when you look at it, you see a big pile of blood, sweat, and tears. It represents all the nights you went without sleep, […]

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Editing Fiction by Rebecca Talley

August 16, 2012
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“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” – James Michener That’s editing in a nutshell. Some writers prefer writing the rough draft and feeling the creativity as it flows through their fingers. Other writers enjoy the editing stage and believe that’s where the real magic lies. Which do you prefer? Writing […]

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The Seven Edits of Highly Effective Authors by Chas Hathaway

July 10, 2012

LDSP: YES! Do every single one of these edits before sending your book out to agents or publishers! Chas Hathaway says: When I revise, I like to do seven edits. Here I talk about all of them in one minute. Okay so I list the them in like 1 minute 10 seconds. So sue me. […]

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Is Your Book Really Ready for the Public Eye? (or Your Turn to Tell Me I’m Up in the Night)

October 6, 2011

I read a lot of books. And by “a lot,” I mean I easily read 100-150 complete books a year (first page to last), and probably twice that in sample chapters, which I then do not finish because I can tell in the first few pages that the book is not my thing. I have […]

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Will Editing Break the Bank?

January 21, 2010

A question from the comments on this post: Considering the low profits made on LDS books, can you ever break even in royalties to make up for the cost of paying an editor? Good question. Depends on the book and how well it sells. If you’re with a small press, maybe not. If you’re with […]

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Finding a Good Pre-Submission Editor is Not Easy

January 20, 2010

I’m thinking about hiring an editor for my current manuscript. Would you recommend that? How would I find a reputable editor? What are the price ranges? Do you need an editor?Some writers need pre-submission editors, others only need readers to help with content flow and to catch a few typos here and there. To determine […]

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Writing Tip Tuesday: Paragraph Length

May 19, 2009

This tip was prompted by a question: At my last writers group meeting, I was told that my paragraphs were way too long. Can you give me an idea of appropriate paragraph length? Is is a certain number of sentences? How do I know when to make a new paragraph? Help! First, let’s define “paragraph”. […]

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Grammatically Correct, But Oh So Wrong

May 18, 2009

While editing my WIP I came to the realization the my characters often begin to. They begin to cry. They begin to run. They begin…well you get the point. At first I laughed because it was funny. Do these guys ever get around to doing anything? Then I realized it wasn’t so funny because I […]

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Self-Editing Before You Submit

May 6, 2009

Julie Coulter Bellon class on self-editing was wonderful! Oh how I wish I could make her notes into a booklet and make it mandatory reading before submission. (Julie, we should talk. . .) I cannot tell you how many manuscripts I’ve rejected over the years due to the issues Julie discussed in her class. (Lots […]

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No-No’s That Stop an Editor Cold

May 4, 2009

Janette Rallison started her class at LDStorymakers with a statement that all of you should understand: Agents, editors and publishers will continue reading your manuscript until you give them a reason to stop. Any of the items listed below are reasons to stop reading: Problems with POV Improper use of dialog tags Starting your book […]

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Light-handed Editing in LDS Novels

October 7, 2008

Thanks so much for all the great work you do on the LDS Publisher blog. I really enjoy reading it. [You’re welcome.] I’m an aspiring LDS fiction author. I’ve been studying a lot about writing and have attended several writing conferences. It’s kind of ruined reading for me. When I read, I see so many […]

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Where Do I Find an LDS Editor?

June 11, 2008

I have recently completed my first fiction novel. I have looked at the entries in your blog under editing, and the second posting talks about the how and why of editing, but not the where. Would you mind sending me a link or two of where I might find a good (free or paid) LDS […]

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