Updated: Oct 15, 2022
You've spent days and nights working tirelessly on your manuscript, and now you're nearing the end of your first draft and ready to send it off for professional editing. If you're considering the hybrid or self-publishing route, here are five (5) tips to help you be better prepared for the journey of finding and working with a professional book editor.
Be Financially Prepared: You have probably dreamt of your story for years, and now that you have it all written down, you feel ready to share it with the world in its most perfect form. That can be a costly pursuit. Hopefully, you've invested enough in yourself and the journey to have thought ahead. Having a book editing and publishing budget will help take away the financial stress you might experience while shopping around for an editor. Here are some tips on how to produce the funds for your book publishing journey:
Set aside an untouchable account for editing (and publishing).
Feed the account with funds over a period. Starting as soon as you begin the writing process will ensure that you have more than enough saved when you're ready.
Draw from this account when you have hired your editor (and secured a publisher).
Editing is one of the most important parts of the publishing journey. Don't get to the end only to seek out the cheapest editor you can find, or skimp on editing altogether, because you're financially unprepared. You've worked too hard not to have a finished product you can be proud of. Plus, you typically get what you pay for.
Revise and Self-Edit: Self-editing is a cost-saving process every writer should engage in before seeking professional editing. Not only does self-editing and revision save you money, but it also saves you time. Here are some tips on how to properly self-edit your manuscript:
Walk away from the manuscript for a few days/weeks before starting the self-editing process.
Try not to obsess over the minor details, there'll always be something to add or take away from your writing.
Check your grammar and spelling, as well as your sentence structure and flow.
The goal is to commit as much time and effort to your manuscript as you possibly can before reaching out for professional help. Self-editing allows your editor to focus on the key details and the business of actual editing, not minor fixes.
Reach Out Early: Chances are that the editor you wish to work with has a calendar that fills up quickly. Some schedules fill up months in advance. I would recommend that you:
Start researching editors, and the type of editing you might need, months in advance.
Make a list of your top five (5) editors to contact.
Reach out to the editor(s) you wish to work with, at least a month before you plan for editing to start.
Have a Realistic Timeline: Based on experience, authors tend to have unrealistic expectations when it comes to editing timelines. I have had authors who wanted a developmental edit done on a full-length book in a week. Before you contact an editor, I would suggest that you:
Familiarize yourself with standard timelines for the kind of editing your book needs.
Be aware that quality editing is not rushed and takes time to complete.
Know that if your editor has a full calendar and it takes a month for them to get to your manuscript, then there is no way that they'll be able to have your manuscript back to you in two weeks so you can meet your publishing deadline.
Be Prepared to Put in More Work: This is an area in which many authors struggle. This is mostly because some authors view editors as the ones to take over their stories and bring them to completion. So, they dump their manuscripts on editors and disappear, hoping that when they are finally contacted again, it will be to turn in a final, polished manuscript that they can then send to their publisher.
Editing is done in phases. And each phase will require you to do further work on the manuscript - even where the changes are minimal.
Your editor's job is to bring out the best in your already well-written story. This will require them to ask questions, make comments, and require you to add to or take away parts of your story. More work.
Your part in writing a book does not end when you hand your manuscript over to your editor. It is actually when the hard work begins; it becomes a collaborative effort.
I hope you find these tips helpful and useful as you prepare to reach out to an editor. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for answers.