6 Ways to Find the Right Editor for Your Book


It’s relatively easy to write an e-book or self-publish these days. And it’s a smart way to build your personal brand, help other people, grow your freelancing business, and ultimately make more money from writing.

But once you’ve got your book written, there’s at least one more step in the process…editing. And it’s something a lot of writers dread. Do you go it alone and self-edit, hire a freelance book editor, pay a book editing service, or what?

Finding the right editor for your book doesn’t have to be a headache, nor does it have to be a major expense.

You can find an editor who is competent and affordable, and you’ll end up with a better book, reduce roadblocks that could prevent you from publishing, and give your readers greater value.

Here are six ways to find the right editor for your book:

1. Understand the editing process

Editing is editing, right? Wrong.

The price you’re going to pay an editor depends on a lot of different factors.

You may just want an editor to proofread your book to catch minor errors and typos. Or you may want to work with an editor to help you overhaul your book.

Getting familiar with the kind of editing options available will help you choose the right editor.

Typical book editing services are:

  • Developmental Editing examines the big picture and structure of a book. This is heavy editing and, if needed, should occur first.
  • Line Editing is stylistic editing, which refines each line for smooth and clear text.
  • Copy Editing addresses grammar, word usage, and punctuation, while checking for internal consistency of facts.
  • Proofreading is the final check for typos, repeated words, spacing and formatting consistency.

Note: These terms may be used differently depending on the editor. You should clarify with potential editors exactly what their services include. If you are not sure which editing services you need, many editors offer a free consultation.


2. Give potential editors a test-drive

Some writers shop around for an editor by sending them a page from their book and requesting a sample edit. It’s a legit way to see if an editor has the skills to catch errors, improve word choices, and maintain your voice.

But it’s not the only way you can gauge an editor’s skill level.

What if you sent an editing quiz to which you had the answer key? You could compare the results of several editors to see who has the best grasp on grammar rules.

This will ensure an editor is effective, especially for copy editing.

The main point here is don’t just hire an editor without knowing they’re truly capable of doing the job right.


3. Find an editor in your niche

Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been writing for some time, it’s no secret that the most successful writers specialize in a niche.

Why? Focusing on a niche helps you become an expert in that area, write better content, ask better questions, and know where to find sources and research.

The best book editors typically specialize in one or a few niches for similar reasons.

A good editor understands the market of the material she is working with.

If you’re going to trust someone to make changes to your book, especially for developmental editing, make sure she is experienced in your niche.


4. Expect book editors to read the fine print

Attention to detail is a critical skill for book editors.

So how do you screen out editors who might not wield a virtual red pen with the chops to catch every typo, grammar problem, style issue, and the like? You could post a job ad for an editor and subtly screen out applicants that aren’t as detail-oriented by including some fine print in the description.

For example, if you create a post to find your next editor, place a random requirement in the middle of the job description.

Dave Chesson, aka the Kindlepreneuer, likes to use, “Respond with ‘Hey, Jedi!'” (Nerdy, but works). This is one way to find an editor who thoroughly reads all the details about editing your book.


5. Ask for referrals and references

Asking your network for referrals to help you find an editor for your book is a good way to find someone who’s already proven they’ve got the skills to edit your book.

If that doesn’t work, you could ask potential editors for references from their satisfied clients.

If you’re going to vet an editor by talking to references, you might ask:

  • What type of project did you work on together?
  • Was there anything you were unhappy with?
  • Did the editor meet agreed-upon deadlines?
  • Did the final cost match the initial quote?
  • Would you hire this editor again?

Not every book editor will have contact information for references, but most will.


6. Give newbies a chance

After doing your homework to find the perfect editor, you might discover that the person with the most experience and rave reviews also charges the most for their services.

If you don’t have piles of cash to pay a top-ranked editor for your first book, consider giving a newbie a chance.

You can find affordable (and talented!) freelance book editors in the Freelance Writer’s Den, social media groups for self-publishers, and online platforms.

If an editor’s rates seem skeptically low, send an editing test, ask for references or a sample, place a hidden message in your post, and see if they understand the different types of editing.

If an editor passes all of these tests, even if she’s a newbie, give her a try. This could save you hundreds of dollars and help you find a skilled editor who is competent and affordable.

Find the right editor to help you improve your book, and you’ll be making a good investment in yourself and your writing business.

Have you had success finding an affordable yet effective book editor? Leave a comment below and share what’s worked for you.

Val Breit has a knack for keeping writers calm while transforming mediocre writing into straightforward, error-free, marketable, and engaging pieces for readers to enjoy at Keep Calm Write On.

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  1. Susie Rosse

    I have two more questions for you! I was checking out your Freelance Writers Den page. How long does it take to get in if you’re on the waiting list right now? It sounds like it has great opportunities since there’s a job board!! If I joined the Den and found jobs there, would you still say I should query magazines/newspapers by myself anyway?

    • Carol Tice

      The waiting list works like this: Anytime we have an opening for new members, everyone on the list is eligible to join, at once. So it’s not like you have to wait in a queue — which is a good thing, since there are over 6,000 people on there already!

      Currently, we will be reopening for a bootcamp in the next week, so stay tuned! Beyond that, not sure when our next regular opening for $25 members will be — possibly not until 2017.

      The job board is NOT a big reason to join the Den, especially if you’re a new writer. It’s a higher-end board that doesn’t post any low-priced gigs, and is a good resource for mid-career writers. But in general, the board is a real sidelight to the point of joining the Den, which is to access 300 hours of training+, 24/7 forums for support, live events where you can ask questions of experts, and more.

      And if you want to write for publications, yes, you’ll be needing to query them in any case. Most of our listings and referrals I’d say are for business writing, though we do get some referrals for publications within the Den — I was personally referred a $3,200 article by one member recently. 😉

    • Susie Rosse

      OK! That all sounds awesome, and I see your point about needing training first. Thank you!

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