Professional Self-Publishers Enlist Qualified Editors

You want the right editor to prepare your manuscript for submission or publication. This month’s post suggests questions that will help you determine whether an editor is qualified and will be a good fit. Remember, your resources are better spent finding expert providers at the beginning than wasting time and money and then having to find someone else before you’re finished.

The ideal editor has experience in your genre, familiarity with the setting’s geography if it’s detailed, the culture if necessary, and nuances of the language the characters speak. For instance, I could not edit a book about a Scot or Scotland, because I have no experience with the people or the country.

Review the editor’s website, then consider any relevant questions below. Sometimes it’s good to ask the questions as if you don’t know the answers, so you know the editor is familiar with the options.


Does the editor's website or marketing material have spelling or grammar errors?

Any errors or vague descriptions are a red flag.


Does the editor offer a sample edit?

The editor should ask for a sample of your work, usually no more than 10 pages, so s/he can see your style. The potential editor should return the edited file so you can see how the s/he works with your manuscript. This will likely incur a fee.


Does s/he provide references you can contact?

Contact references, preferably by phone. Some people don’t ask if they can use a client for references, and you might be surprised by what you hear.


Is the editor proficient in the style you are using?

Ask probing questions starting with which style guide s/he prefers to use and what kinds of work s/he has edited using that stylebook. Most book publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style, while scientific and academic books or journals use the American Psychology Association (APA) or Modern Language Association (MLA) style guide.


What is the charge for this service, and what is included?

Prices vary considerably, and no two editors offer the exact same service. Research and ask as many questions of published authors as you can to learn about specific services you desire or expect. Be sure to ask what other services are available. The answer will provide insight about potential upsells, as well as helping you know what services you expected to be included but were not and might incur additional cost.


Do you use contracts?

The only way to ensure the work is completed as agreed is to have a contract specifying what is included in the edit.

What other questions would you ask? Let me know in the comments below.

Beth Crosby

Copy Editor / Writing Coach

Beth Crosby is a copy editor and writing coach with a background in newspaper journalism. She tells writers, “Never publish your first draft!”

Beth works with writers, authors, and publishers. Her goal is to empower writers to share their messages by bolstering and encouraging them through writing coaching and editing. She believes that published blogs, articles, and books should be clear, concise, correct and consistent. Contact her today at [email protected] to see how she can help you.

“If you want your next project to be as polished as possible, I can ensure readers remember your manuscript, message, email, blog post, or other writing project for its quality and clarity, not its errors.”
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