Make the Right Editorial Match
by Barbara McNichol
Finding the right freelance editor requires a matchmaking process that helps your editor understand the dreams you have for your book. To start, review this checklist of crucial questions that a potential editor could ask you. Answering them defines the project and helps ensure the match-up will work for both of you.
Who is in your book’s target audience (demographics, age group, position, industry, region, etc.)?
What genre or market niche does this book fit in? Where would it be found in a bookstore?
What is your expected editorial timeline (e.g., when did you promise to give it to a designer, have it ready for a conference, etc.)? Be sure to budget time for all steps in the publication process.
How much of the book is written? Does the content that’s ready now include front and back matter (e.g., foreword, testimonials, acknowledgments, dedication, footnotes, resource list, glossary, appendix, etc.)? If your answer to “how much” is not “100 percent,” what is missing? When would you be ready to send the editor your complete content?
What is the length of the book in its current form (number of pages and/or number of words in an MS Word document)?
What is the anticipated total length, including front and back matter?
If you want to have a foreword, have you asked someone to write it and provided a deadline for delivering it?
How much are you expecting to spend on having your book professionally edited?
What else should the editor know about your expectations?
The most important of these questions is, “How much of the book is written?” When you can answer “100 percent,” you can expect a solid project price and a realistic timeline.
The All-Important Sample Edit
How do you identify prospective freelance editors for a manuscript? The obvious: Ask your publisher, writer, and designer friends; check acknowledgments in books you like and contact the editors listed; and search the Internet for editors in your genre and in your area. Then request a sample edit of the work—especially if more than one editor is in the running for your business.
Here’s a rule of thumb: If you can clearly see improvements resulting from the editor’s work, if you recognize that the words flow better and the writing has more clarity and pizzazz, that’s a green light. If you don’t like the changes or find yourself arguing against them, that’s an amber light. Time to talk.
But (always the but), remember your intent. You want to put your best foot forward and not give anyone a reason to back away from your book because of sloppy, unpolished writing. Ultimately, you want your editor to be the advocate for those you want to reach—the pro who makes it easier for your readers to connect with you and your book’s message.
Barbara McNichol writes and edits articles, Web site copy, book proposals, and manuscripts for authors and entrepreneurs. To reach her, call 887/696-4899 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, sign up for her ezine Word Tripper of the Week at barbaramcnichol.com and receive a free ebook, Word Trippers.