For self-publishing authors, hiring a book editor can be a daunting task. It’s a significant financial investment in the quality of your work, so you need to be diligent in your selection process. What qualifications should you seek in a book editor?
Examples of past work
When you’re looking to self-publish, hiring a book editor with a solid library of previously edited books is essential. But don’t stop at a simple list of books that have been edited. If you have the time and funds, order a couple of the books to look at the work yourself.
It’s also important to search for feedback and reviews from critical readers. Look for the books on Amazon and Goodreads. Do they mention the editing at all? If so, is it positive? Google them, too, to see if there are any entries on book review websites and blogs.
Testimonials from happy clients
Looking at the books may not illustrate an editor’s ability. In fact, a great editor’s work will be so seamless as to be unnoticeable. So, you’ll need to ask the authors with whom the editor has worked.
This is about more, though, that than their skill. Ask their authors about their overall editorial style. How did they deliver their edits? Were they timely? Did they offer explanation?
Mastery of your preferred style guide
The style guide that your editor uses is the backbone of the editorial process. If you’re self-publishing, you don’t have a house style or a preferred guide automatically assigned to you. Instead, it’s up to you to choose a style guide. Take the time to research what other books in your genre use… and then make sure the book editor you hire is proficient in that style.
It’s essential, too, to make sure that you and your book editor have complementary personalities that foster a solid working relationship. Take the time to interview your prospective editors. Ask them questions about how they work, how they prefer to communicate (phone, email, Skype?) and be sure that it syncs up with how you work, as well.
This is a good time, too, to be honest about your work. How much editing will it truly need? Provide your prospective editor with a sample chapter or two so they can assess the depth of the required edit and accurately estimate the time (and payment) it will take to complete their job.
Veteran self-publishing authors, how did you select your book editor?