How to know if you’re ready for an editor

One of the most troublesome parts about working with an editor, aside from finding an editor you connect with, is deciding if you’re ready for an editor. Here are some tips to help you decide whether you and your manuscript are ready for an editor.

Decide how much editing you want to do yourself

The very first thing you need to do is decide how much of the editing you’re going to do yourself. As I mentioned in my “What Types of Book Edits are There” blog post, there’s a lot of editing you can do on your own or with the help of others. I never recommend publishing books without the help of an editor. I completely understand how tough times are right now. So, to help with any monetary struggles, it’s a good idea to focus on making the most of the time you have with your editor. Do everything you can to make your draft as clean as possible before sending it to an editor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, and even the editors you’re looking at working with.

Determine your timeline

Before you even reach out to an editor, it’s important to know your timeline for publishing. While many editors can edit books in short periods of time, the extra fees for rush orders and the increased risk of your editor missing something (we are human after all) isn’t worth the money. A good rule of thumb is that it takes about a month for an editor to thoroughly edit every 80,000-100,000 words in a clean manuscript. Prices can vary greatly between editors, as can time frames, so plan roughly six to eight weeks for the edit. If you don’t have that much time, let your editor know upfront and consider pushing back your publishing date. It’s better to push back your debut novel than to publish a rushed manuscript.

Consider the type of edit you need

Next, you need to determine what type of edit(s) you’re looking for in your manuscript. Do you want some help with making sure the plot makes sense and is following the expected tropes of the genre? Then you’ll want to look for a developmental editor. Are you more concerned about polishing the words on the page and making sure readers have a pleasurable reading experience? Then a line and/or copy editor is who you’re looking for. And, if you’re wanting one last check for typos, then you’ll want a proofreader. If you’re unsure of what type of edits you need, reach out for a sample edit.

The worst thing you can do is hire an editor to help make your book the best it can, only to have them spend all their time correcting things you could’ve fixed if you had done a thorough self-edit Click To Tweet

Complete your self-edit

The worst thing you can do is hire an editor to help make your book the best it can, only to have them spend all their time correcting things you could’ve fixed if you had done a thorough self-edit. You can totally hire an editor to correct the common mistakes that can slip into manuscripts when you’re too close to the work. After all, that’s what we’re here for. However, if you don’t have the room in your budget or schedule for multiple passes on an edit, you risk having your editor miss more important errors because of all the other corrections throughout the document. If you can, take the time to self-edit your manuscript one final time before sending it off. There’s a chance you may even discover an area you’d like your editor to really focus on.

Edit for an editor

Before you send your manuscript to your editor, you’ll want to do one final edit specifically for your editor. I have a separate blog post all about this coming soon, but for now, here are a few things to keep in mind. When reading through your book, make a note of any potential weaknesses in your writing, including anything you’re not sure about or what your critique partners and beta readers may have brought to your attention. You should also run the document through a spelling and grammar checker. Don’t just accept every suggested change. Instead, go through and accept or ignore each one individually to make sure the software isn’t introducing more errors. And, please, take the time to make a note of all major trigger warnings within the manuscript. Not just letting your editor know about the different emotionally charged scenes, but even going as far as noting the chapters will be huge for your editor. This will allow them to take the time to prepare to edit that chapter without being surprised by a topic that may be difficult for them to read and edit.

Get your file(s) ready for an editor

When you’re working on formatting your manuscript, there are a few things to consider that can really help your editor in the editing process. The first is to make sure your manuscript is in your editor’s preferred file format. If you enjoy writing in Scrivener or Google Docs and your editor requests a Word Doc, make sure you take the time to convert your file to whatever your editor requests. Next, take the time to set up headings for all your chapter titles. Doing this will allow your editor to move about the document and make sure they’re on schedule with just a glance. In each word processor there’s a different way to do this, but check back for a guide with templates for the top word processors on laying documents out for an editor. Finally, make sure you’ve addressed and either deleted any comments you may have scattered throughout the document or create a fresh document for your editor. It can be distracting to see comments left by other readers when focusing on an edit.

Mentally prepare yourself

While no editor will ever try to make you feel bad about your writing, it’s difficult to give your work to an editor, being proud of what you’ve made, only to have it returned to you full of corrections and comments. When I was in school for my creative writing degree, I both loathed and enjoyed critique weeks. I loved getting to hear what my peers thought of my writing, and receiving advice and edits from my professors, helped strengthen my writing. Though, there were definitely times where my peers would pick apart something I loved about my writing. Those days were tough, and it would take time for me to remove the emotions from the piece. More times than not, my peers would be right and my writing would be stronger after cutting of changing the story by following their suggestions. Your editor is here to help make your book the best it can be, but you can always let us know if you’d like us to sprinkle in more comments throughout the document.

Your editor is here to help make your book the best it can be, but you can always let us know if you’d like us to sprinkle in more comments throughout the document. Click To Tweet

Take a deep breath and relax. You’re ready for an editor

I know the idea of a stranger editing your book is one of the scariest parts of the writing journey. When I published my debut novel, Well of Vengeance, I was super nervous too. The best thing you can do for yourself is to take a deep breath before sending your book off. If you can, give yourself the rest of the day to relax, or maybe have a sweet treat. Regardless of what others may say, hiring an editor is a big deal and it’s something to be celebrated. So, do what feels right for you and acknowledge your accomplishment!

Remember: You’ve got this!

Writing a book is rewarding and also super stressful. If you’re not surrounded by people who understand the self-publishing lifestyle, it can be even more stressful. So, remember, you’ve got this! I’m here for you and there are countless others who are too. If you want anyone to talk to, or have questions regarding editing, feel free to reach out to me here or check out my Instagram. I’m always happy to chat about any concerns or worries on your mind. If you know anyone who needs to hear this, feel free to share this post on your social media and tag me! My goal is to help you and writers achieve their dreams of publishing the very best books they can!