• Mary Finch

How to Find an Editor

You have your project and you know you have taken it as far as you can on your own. The next step before publishing is bringing in an editor (a stranger?!) to help with your precious project that you have worked on, nurtured, and given your blood, sweat, and tears to.

That sounds terrifying. But it doesn't have to be.

Step 1. Find Your Darlings

Your darlings are precious to you. And while sometimes it is a good idea to let go of them and "kill your darlings," by the time you get to the phase of hiring an editor (usually after the revision step), your writing should be in a place where your darlings are safe.

When it comes to bringing in an editor, you should let them know upfront what your darlings are; what is non-negotiable? What has to stay in your story? What things are intentional and important?

These darlings don't just have to be characters or plot points, but they could also be style choices that vary from your style guide, sentence structures you feel passionate about, or even formatting choices. And your editor should respect that, even if they personally disagree.

Step 2. Figure out what you need.

Your editor works for you. You are the boss. That means you have the right, I'd even say responsibility, to tell them exactly what sort of editing you are looking for. Doing this early in the hiring process will help you make sure your editor is a good fit for your project.

To help figure out what you want, think through these questions:

  • Do you want your editor to closely check grammar and spelling? If yes, be sure to let your editor know what style guide you prefer to use.

  • Do you want your editor to give you notes on your word choice, voice, and phrasing? If yes, do you want them to just flag areas they think you should revise or offer short revisions and re-writes themselves?

  • Do you want feedback on the structure and organization of your project?

(You can learn more about types of editing by reading my blog post What is Editing?)

Also consider how you like to receive feedback. Getting criticism, even when you are literally asking for it, can be hard. You can let your editor know if you have preferences about the way they give and explain notes.

Your editor wants to help you succeed--they are on your team! Help them help you by giving them clear instructions about what you need.

Step 3. Find an editor.

Once you have a clear idea of what you don't want changed and what you do want changed, it's time to look for an editor, a very intimidating task.

To find an editor, you can always start with Google, but that might give you lots of results that aren't the most trustworthy.

Lots of editors (myself included) use instagram to drum up interest and stay plugged into the writing community, but you can also use a more formal portal like Reedsy. While searching Fiverr might get you lots of results, they are unfiltered and unverified. Finally, remember to use word of mouth! If you have published friends or a writing community, see if they have any recommendations for editors or any advice on how to find a good one.

No matter what tips and tricks you use, finding an editor will likely take some time and research. Already knowing what you are looking for should give you a head start though. Here are a few more tips:

  • Ask for a sample edit. Most editors (including me!) will edit a couple thousand words for you as a sample, so they get to know your writing and you get to know their editing.

  • Pay attention to personality. This person will be working closely with you and your very precious project. You don't need to be best friends, but you should have a positive working relationship. If you don't vibe, then they may not be the right fit even if their credentials are amazing!

  • You get what you pay for. If an editor offers a rate way below industry standards and it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Want to work with me?

I'm accepting new projects! Check out my services page to see how I can help you bring your project to completion, and if you like what you see contact me!


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