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How to Find a Good Editor for Your Book or Ebook

Updated on March 11, 2015
A good editor can edit and proofread your ebook so that it's perfect, prior to publication
A good editor can edit and proofread your ebook so that it's perfect, prior to publication | Source

Introduction

A good proofreader or editor can significantly improve the quality of a manuscript, giving a book or ebook the best chance of getting noticed and selling well.

It's becoming easier and easier to become a published author. Amazon and Kindle have made it simple to self-publish, and once you've written your book you'll be keen to get it out there for people to see. Before you take that step, it's a good idea to have an editor or proofreader look over your work; although they will charge you a fee, it will be money well spent. Here's why:

  • Fixing your grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Making your work read better
  • Ensuring that the formatting is consistent
  • Providing another perspective

Proofreaders and editors, what's the difference?

A proofreader is a person that will go through your document proofreading it for correctness and accuracy. An editor is normally able to proofread but in addition they can also make more substantial edits to improve and enhance your work.

Some editors also focus on other areas such as helping to develop manuscripts, project management and commenting on the suitability of work for publication.

Fixing your grammar, spelling and punctuation

At the most basic level, one of the most important services an editor will provide is proofreading. This involves going through your work, line by line, identifying and fixing mistakes.

They will look for spelling errors, issues with grammar, appropriate punctuation use, consistency and more. They will help to polish your work to ensure that it is accurate and error-free.

An editor will go through your work in detail and provide suggestions on improvements
An editor will go through your work in detail and provide suggestions on improvements | Source

Making your work read better

In addition to proofreading, some editors also provide copy editing services. This means that they will also edit in areas like style, word usage, duplication, ambiguity and more.

They can reduce the number of words used, tighten up the writing and sharpen the language. Good editors will also ask questions about the work to help you enhance it. A thorough copy edit is a great way to make sure that your book is appropriate for its audience.

Ensuring that the formatting is consistent

As well as proofreading and copy editing, some editors can also check that the formatting throughout your work is accurate and consistent. This involves removing extra spaces, making sure that fonts and headings are the same, fixing margins, dealing with line space issues and more.

This all helps the finished work to look as professional as possible. If an editor is not able to provide this, you might want to consider hiring a professional designer to assist with typesetting and formatting.

Providing another perspective

Some editors will also provide advice and feedback on your work. They may do this by providing comments in the manuscript itself or providing a separate assessment if you request it.

They can focus on specific areas or the manuscript as a whole. You can then use this feedback to make changes to your work and improve it further.

A good proofreader will highlight and fix English errors and formatting
A good proofreader will highlight and fix English errors and formatting | Source

How to find a good editor

There are thousands of proofreaders and editors out there, as it's easy to get into the profession. Because of this, it could be difficult to find the right proofreader or editor for you, as in this field, cheapest is seldom best.

Once you've searched online for proofreaders and editors, make a shortlist of the ones that you might be interested in. When you approach them, you might want to ask some of the following questions:

  • Are they native English speakers?
  • What are their qualifications?
  • Can you get a free sample?
  • What are their fees and pricing structure?
  • What do they specialize in?
  • What type of work have they recently completed?
  • Is it easy to get in touch with them?
  • What are their terms and conditions?

Are they native English speakers?

Some of the larger agencies outsource their work overseas. Although it will be an English speaker who will be completing your work, they may not understand all of the context, colloquialisms and intricacies of the language.

Find out who will be editing your work and their experience in natural, everyday English use.

You'll want to be sure that at editor or proofreader is right for you
You'll want to be sure that at editor or proofreader is right for you | Source

What are their qualifications?

Find out from the proofreader or editor what their qualifications are. You will probably want someone with more experience than a fresh proofreader who has just completed a two week correspondence course.

You might want someone with a degree in a relevant field like communications or journalism.

Can you get a free sample?

Many of the more reputable proofreading and editing businesses will be happy to complete a short, free sample of your book, so that you can see the type of work that they will do.

Find out if they are prepared to offer this and if there's an obligation if you request one.

Good editors may charge a little more, but they are worth it
Good editors may charge a little more, but they are worth it | Source

What are their fees and pricing structure?

It's important that you know how much money you will be spending on an editor or proofreader, so that you can budget for it properly.

Find out how much you are going to be charged and if there are any guarantees on the price.

What do they specialize in?

Find out if the business, agency or freelancer that you want to use has any specialties when it comes to proofreading or editing.

For example, some may specialize in fiction, others in non-fiction or autobiographies etc. Each type of editing needs a different skill-set, so you'll want to be confident that the person completing work for you has experience in the relevant fields.

What type of work have they recently completed?

See if you can get a list, or at least an idea of the type of work that the editors or proofreaders have recently dealt with.

That can give you an indication of the types of writers that are already trusting the business with their work.

If you can, get samples from your editor to check that you like their work
If you can, get samples from your editor to check that you like their work | Source

Is it easy to get in touch with them?

You will want to work with an agency or freelancer that's easy to get in touch with, reliable and flexible. Make a note of how quickly they respond to you and see if you like the quality of their responses and answers.

What are their terms and conditions?

Review their website or any contract for terms and conditions. You should check to make sure how they are going to handle your work, payment terms and any other areas that are relevant to you.

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In closing

Once you've answered these questions, you can decide which editor or proofreader you think will be right for your work. Choosing the right one is important because they will be directly enhancing the manuscript that you're going to be sharing with the world.

Publishing a book is a very exciting time. By spending some time, effort and money on a good proofreader or editor, you'll be giving your work its very best chance of success.

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    • Paul Maplesden profile image
      Author

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks Randy. Trusting someone else with a treasured manuscript can be tricky, so I think that finding an editor that you have a good rapport with, and that will be fair in all of their dealings and pricing, is essential.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      A very information packed article for writers planning to publish a book or other textual work, Paul. I wisht I wuz one! Voted up! :)

    • Paul Maplesden profile image
      Author

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Yes, I've seen more than a few ebooks published that could definitely have used a good editor!

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 2 years ago

      a useful hub

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was very well written and clearly explained Paul. Thank you for sharing this very helpful hub. Good editing is very important and can make a difference between success and failure. Voted up.

    • Paul Maplesden profile image
      Author

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks - Being a good proofreader or editor is often overlooked, but it can really bring more professionalism to a person's work. I'm glad that you liked the article.

    • Paul Maplesden profile image
      Author

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Yes, it's a subtle difference but an important one. I run a business that provides editing and proofreading, and explaining the difference to clients is essential to making sure that they get the right service.

    • Paul Maplesden profile image
      Author

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I agree - I run an editing business myself, so I know how important finding the right editor can be!

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 2 years ago from California

      I know how to find a good editor. Hire me! ;-)

      And I do agree that native fluency is important, and maybe I don't know every English colloquialism there is, but I can assure you that I know grammar and syntax better than most native English speakers I've met, because when you study English as a foreign language, that's where the emphasis is.

      Nice hub! Thanks for sharing.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Bookmarked! This indeed is very useful.

      Thank you.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Being a trade newspaper editor in a former life, I definitely understand the value that good editing brings. But finding a good editor can be a challenge in itself. Glad you defined the difference between editing and proofreading. Two very different functions. Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      It is very helpful to see how you have clearly stated the different services of an editor, from proofreading to copy editing to consistency in format, tightening up sentences and writing, and offering perspective. I've edited some books and oftentimes clients don't know what the whole job entails. I realize through your article that services have to be specified and described so that the client will be able to say what he wants, and what services he doesn't want. Your article is most helpful, and written in a clear, concise way that makes it easy for me to understand and benefit from. Thank you very much.