How To Choose an Editor

Kids writing

When it comes to finding an editor to help you with your book, make sure it’s someone who responds to what you’ve written and how you’ve written it. Make no mistake: no one likes to be edited. It can be an incredibly painful process. You’re basically paying someone to poke holes in what you’ve done and critique every aspect of it from concept to comma use. Like many things in the publishing process, it requires a leap of faith, and if you want to ensure your book is marketable—or at the very least navigable to readers—then it’s absolutely necessary.

Here are a few pointers for starting the editing process, from editing expert Ellie Maas Davis:

1. Make sure your editor specializes in your genre—if you’ve written a book about the Civil War or advanced polynomials, by all means, find an editor who has edited similar titles. If you have an uncommon topic, a Lulu Services rep will be happy to give you background information about the editor most likely to tackle your manuscript.

2. Ensure that a potential editor follows a specific style guideline—and that it’s what you and your co-writers prefer. Lulu editors follow Chicago Manual of Style guidelines, unless directed otherwise, and are versed in all major styles.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for work samples.

4. Share your particular needs and concerns with your editor—for example, you might want less insight on character development and more guidance on plot. Be specific about your writing strengths and weaknesses—do you have an issue with tense or point of view? Your Lulu coordinator can pass along any supplemental notes to the editor.

Ultimately, a successful editing venture depends on a clear understanding centered on ethics and expectations. It’s sort of like a marriage, except you’re probably not going to love your editor—not at first. But down the road, once you’ve come to appreciate the editing process and how the editing process led to an end product you’re genuinely proud of, you’ll realize your editor was essential—and that it was sort of like having a dentist, project manager, magician, and mother hen on your side. Sure it hurt at first. Sure it was a little daunting and often tedious—but then most things worth having don’t come easy.

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6 thoughts on “How To Choose an Editor”

  1. Good list, quite helpful
    Any thoughts on using a editor when having a ghost writer work with you as well? ie should one person spearhead the operation, or should the three of you be working closely?

  2. @Fax Authority, great question! In the case of Lulu’s ghostwriting services, many of the writers and editors work closely, but it is generally a two-step process. The writer and author work on the manuscript first, then the editor approaches it with a fresh set of eyes–usually an objective reviewer can be much more helpful than someone who’s had his or her hand in the manuscript from the beginning. Every project is different, though! Some books will need a more intimate relationship between writer and editor.

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