Alison Jack launched her editing service in January 2014 and as an author herself, knows how daunting it can be when you hand over your manuscript for editing. Having been through the process herself, she can help to make that process feel less daunting.
An editor reading through your manuscript with an unbiased view and more importantly, a fresh pair of eyes, has amazing value. I can’t count the times I’ve edited my blog posts, published and then seen a glaring error! From a reader’s point of view, there is nothing more annoying or frustrating than reading a novel that has been poorly edited. It’s often those novels that we DNF (did not finish). You want your work to stand out in the crowd and one way of doing that is to have your work professionally edited to give it that polish.
If you’re looking for guidance on how to find an editor, Alison’s tips and suggestions below will help you find your way around the editing jungle.
‘Who Needs An Editor Anyway…?’
…said no bestselling author, ever.
However, every author needs to work with the right editor, so how do they go about finding that editor?
The first thing I would advise is that the cheapest option is not necessarily the best. Editors need to earn a living like everyone else, and I am deeply suspicious of people who reckon they can do so while charging a couple of pounds per 1,000 words. The less an editor charges, the more words they will have to cram into an hour even to achieve minimum wage, and the less care they’re going to be able to devote to those words – the saying ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’ springs to mind. I’m loath to suggest what an editor should charge, but if someone’s offering copy-editing for under £4 per 1,000 words, steer clear. (Please note I’m only referring to editing here, not proof reading which is a different skill and comes after the editing stage.)
Secondly, I’d advise authors to look for an editor who specialises in the type of manuscripts they write. Despite my surname, I don’t aspire to be a jack of all trades; instead, I know my strength lies in editing more informal manuscripts such as fiction and memoirs, and I also have extensive experience (and have learnt a lot from) working with self-help/business authors who often favour a relaxed, ‘chatty’ style of writing. Whenever I get together with the local Society for Editors and Proofreaders http://www.sfep.org.uk/ (SfEP) group, I often meet fellow editors who, when they learn my speciality, express their admiration and state they ‘wouldn’t know where to start’ with editing fiction. This is while I’m struck dumb with awe at the fact they edit academic texts for Cambridge University professors!
When looking for the ideal editor (and, indeed, proof reader, cover designer and great self-publishing advice), new authors will find the Alliance of Independent Authors http://allianceindependentauthors.org/ (ALLi) to be a great first port of call. Not only does ALLi offer the opportunity to make friends and join a vibrant community of writers, it also has a comprehensive directory of professional service providers covering every step of the publishing journey. There are some great self-publishing companies out there too – the team at SilverWood Books http://www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk/ guarantees high quality services for authors of fiction or memoirs, and Rethink Press http://rethinkpress.com/ offers equally professional services to business and self-help authors (I have the pleasure of working regularly with both companies), but if you are an author who wants to remain truly indie and do it all yourself, the best thing to do is ask around. Contact authors you admire and find out whom they use for editing, then have a chat with those editors.
When an author contacts me for the first time, I encourage them to send me a short excerpt from their manuscript (about 3,000 words is ideal) and I complete a sample edit for them, completely free of charge and obligation. This is a win/win exercise as it gives the author the opportunity to see my work demonstrated on their own manuscript, and it helps me to gauge what level of work is required. If the author subsequently decides to book with me (and I’m delighted to say a good 95% of authors do), I then deduct the word count of the sample from the overall word count of their manuscript to make sure their free sample stays free.
Communication is a very important part of the editing process for me, so I advise authors every step of the way, letting them know exactly what work needs doing and why, explaining why I’ve made the amendments I’ve made (if they’re not self-explanatory) and inviting them to get in touch at any time if there’s something they’re not clear on. The end result is usually a happy author brimming with excitement and confidence about releasing their work, and a happy author = a happy editor.
If you’re an independent author who’d like to get in touch, find out more about my editing services or simply have a chat about your work, here are some useful links:
Twitter (both): https://twitter.com/AlisonEditor1