Finding an Editor

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 05 2011

I read in one of your blog that the new writers should make sure that their submission should be polished and well-edited. What can I do to convince an editior to read my work?

You’re correct. Before submitting anything you need to make sure you’ve done all your revisions and editing, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to bring on an editor. Every writer needs to learn how to edit their own work and make it as clean as possible. If you still feel you need, or could use, guidance from others, there are a lot of great resources. Certainly there are editors you can hire, many who have had experience at publishing houses. Some will edit only for content, others will only do copyediting, and certainly there are some who will do both.

You can also get involved in a critique group or use beta readers, primarily made up of your author peers. They can also help you get your work into shape, and by helping them with their work you’ll learn a lot about what you can do to strengthen your own book.

“Getting an editor to read your work” implies that you are looking at publishing houses for editorial guidance, and that’s not the way to get your work ready for an agent. Before approaching publishing houses, your work needs to be as polished as it is for agents, if not more so.


12 responses to “Finding an Editor”

  1. Avatar beth says:

    How do you feel about writers who use a freelance editor before submitting to you? To me, it seems the thing to do because I have an awesome critique partner but in reality we're both amateurs. But I've heard agents frown on this. What do you think?

  2. Avatar jfaust says:

    I think a lot of people assume freelance editors are a magical step to publication and I don't think that's the case. Freelance editors, depending on the editor, don't always know anymore more about the market then authors. In fact, sometimes less.

    I think it's a personal decision. I have no real opinion on the matter.


  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    While editors can clean up typos and syntax and suggest changes regarding pacing, plot and character, they have no control over the final changes the writer makes. So unless the writer trusts the editor and follows suggestions, sometimes the pages that go out are still less than they could be. And then it becomes 'the editor's fault.' As for finding a good editor at a reasonable cost, ask other writers. They know who to trust.

  4. Avatar Robena Grant says:

    I found a wonderful online Revision class on how to edit your own work. It's a live stream through Wiz IQ, and run by romance author, Lani Diane Rich, so you get that feeling of being in an actual classroom. Plus there is a forum for participants to discuss and to ask additional questions.
    It runs over six weeks, and is well worth the money. I took it about a year ago. I think she mentioned on her new website that she has space available in her January class.

  5. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    I've worked with a free-flowing critique group comprised of published authors, editors, a couple of small-press owners and a few readers who have caught me in inexcusable gaffs in the past, for over ten years now. There are over a dozen people I trust to send my finished work to–I never ask for edits until the project is, in my mind, complete, because I don't want anyone messing with my vision until it's all on paper.

    Out of the dozen, usually from two to six of them will have time to read the work and comment. What amazes me is that all of them who respond always find different things that need to be addressed.

    Which is why I wouldn't spend the money with a professional editing service. I'd rather have a group of readers familiar with genre fiction reading my work. I sort through their comments, use the ones that make sense (generally most of them!) and then submit my work to my editor.

    I would suggest searching among your online pool of friends for beta readers, finding the ones you can trust, and then take it from there. I've discovered that my beta readers who are readers, not professional writers, often offer insights that the others don't catch.

    As far as typos and proper usage–that's something that you, as a writer, should already know. I'm often surprised by the obvious lack of technical skills in unpublished work, but that's something that goes beyond editing, IMHO. That's something a writer needs to take responsibility for themselves.

  6. Avatar Lucy says:

    One point I've read about using a freelance editor is that you'd better be able to hire an editor for your next book and your next, unless you actually learn how to edit. Otherwise, the difference in the quality of the submitted work will be sharp.

    But I'd strongly advise learning how to critique and edit your own work. It'll make you a much better writer.

    One way to get experience in the trenches is to volunteer with after-school programs that work on writing and reading. Once you get over the fact that 7th graders as a breed are stuck on two adjectives–"big" and "cool"–you'll begin to see the common problems in students' writing; and by extension, the problems in your own.

  7. While some freelance editors may do all the work for you, even rewriting chapters, not all of us work that way. Many of us teach as we edit, so eventually, the client learns how to recognize and correct errors in their work.

    Lynnette Labelle

  8. Avatar Rosemary says:

    While hiring a professional may be a good idea for some, I'd suggest starting with a good writers' forum, such as Absolute Write or Query Tracker. These sites allow members to post pages for feedback and provide ways for critique partners to find each other. (QT has been a wonderful resource for me.)

  9. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Scribophile is a great place to go online to get critiques. I also suggest trying websites like to find a RL critique group in your local area.

  10. I've heard the same danger as Lucy mentions. It can be hard enough for any writer's second novel to be as good as their first. The "sophomore slump" can often occur just because a writer might let that first novel percolate for years and write the second on a tighter schedule. But if you've had an editor work on that first novel to make it even better, the difference in quality if your second novel is a slump novel will be even more noticeable.

  11. I find it appalling the number of short story submissions I receive from both new and established writers which read as first drafts. Then there are those which clearly were well-written and edited and those stand out starkly by contrast.

    However, many submissions to our magazine are often accompanied by a dreadful query letter. The first step in getting an editor — even at a literary magazine such as ours — to read your work is to also spend time on your query and make sure it makes a positive impression. This is the first example of your writing an editor reads.

  12. Avatar Pen and Ink says:

    Hmmm, I would assume that your work should be as polished for the agent as for the publisher; stands to reason. Each professional will add his or her own edits to the mix which hopefully will carry the work even further. I love the idea of Absolute Write or Query Tracker. My critique group was formed via SCBWI and has been invaluable. We consequently formed the Pen and Ink blog and the rest, as they say is history. But I highly recommend joining an organization and starting your own critique group for objective feedback.