Many authors, especially first-time authors, feel a bit lost as they search for experienced book editors. The question is how best to wade through a sea of editors and find the right match. Below is some helpful guidance, especially for first-time authors who need professional help with the editing and publishing journey.
Qualities of Experienced Book Editors
You want an experienced editor who has worked in your genre. The best way to find these editor candidates is to search online for websites that clearly state backgrounds and qualifications. You can research individual editors and reach out through email. I recommend scheduling a phone interview to ask lots of questions and see how comfortable the conversation makes you feel (chemistry can be a huge component of these projects).
Ask About Training
Has an editor candidate studied the conventions of English, language arts, and literature? How about copywriting and copyediting coursework? Look for editors with backgrounds as English majors, creative writing majors, journalism majors, and digital content majors. They tend to bring honed skills to projects and an in-depth understanding of how to write impactfully and edit with precision.
My investment in expert training and knowledge acquisition demonstrates my love of the craft and my devotion to a complex, ever-evolving industry. I formally began my career while pursuing an associate’s degree from Blinn College in the 1980s and studying business courses, medical and legal terminology, and copyediting. My English degree from University of Houston included studies in American literature, British literature, creative writing, technical writing, and writing and editing projects in psychology (my minor). In my ongoing pursuit of a master’s degree in digital media, I’ve taken communication courses, digital writing courses in advertising, marketing, and social media, as well as screenwriting and digital media law and ethics courses (which covered copyright and intellectual property).
Ask About Affiliations
What organizations is an editor involved in? True professionals in any industry, including the editing industry, have top-notch affiliations and memberships alongside other experts. Not only does this bolster lifelong learning, but lends credibility to an editor who passionately supports the craft.
Between my journalism, book editing, and ghostwriting services, my affiliations are numerous and include a lifetime membership in the Society of Professional Journalists and memberships in the Council of Science Editors, the Editorial Freelancer’s Association, Authors Guild, Authors Alliance, and many more.
Ask About Longevity
What is the span of an editor’s career? How long has the book editor been working with authors on manuscripts? Does he or she edit books full-time or part-time? You’ll want an editor who has grown into the industry over time and amassed clientele. Experience is key.
After nearly 40 years in the world of words, a very experienced editor like me has seen the publishing industry change and evolve with the times. I’ve maintained friendships with many authors who have shared their publishing experiences, thus giving me insights into what works best. I enjoy sharing this feedback with new up-and-coming clients.
Ask About the Editor’s Body of Work
How extensive is the editor’s portfolio? What genres has the editor worked in?
My main focus is on book editing and ghostwriting, but I’ve kept my thumb on the pulse of journalism as well. Every once in a while, the two overlap — I’ll interview someone on assignment, and he or she will end up hiring me to edit their book!
I’ve shared some book covers at the bottom of my website comprising just a smidgeon of editing projects through the years. Some (but certainly not all) of my editing projects appear online at Google Books, as well as some of my journalism articles listed as sources. You’ll also find some (but certainly not all) of my collaborations with first-time, self-published authors on Amazon.
Ask About Testimonials
Most importantly, experienced book editors will have dozens and dozens of author clients who have weighed in with testimonials and reviews.
I feel fortunate and am so gratified that volumes of wonderful testimonials appear on my website.