Self-publishing: What authors need to know when seeking an editor.

Last weekend I attended the Editors’ Association of Canada Conference in Toronto and one panelist said, “Editors are like GPs, they can treat all your ailments and have the diagnostic skills to know when to make referrals.” I feel this is very wise insight.

When I receive a manuscript I do all that I can and if there is something more that has to happen I make a recommendation. A good example of this is proofreading. If I’ve copyedited a piece, I know it needs someone else to do the proofread. I know I can’t proofread if I’ve copyedited. It needs fresh eyes. Yet, many first time authors see the self-publishing world as a “one stop shop” and expect their manuscript to be polished in one pass. In fairness to them, it’s the Wild West out there with self-publishers and the process can be daunting.

If an author wants their manuscript to be the best it can be, they need to understand I’m not any good to them if I’m not level about what has to happen. And quite often that demands a rewrite: writing is rewriting. That’s a fact. As I see it, the best writers are those who revise and learn the process of writing.

When I first started writing I knew my grammar was weak. I wasn’t about to allow that fact to determine me so I went back to school and studied grammar (and ended up teaching grammar!).  I worked hard for several years to transform my weakness into a strength: new writers can do the same.

When I get a new client I start by doing an evaluation of their work. Then I have a conversation to find out if the author wants to learn about the writing process and become a better writer, or if their intent is solely about getting their book out. Once that has been determined, we have a conversation about their intent, their market, and their vision.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have worked with some wonderful editors over the years who have taken the time to sculpt my work and teach me how to craft my words; therefore, today I’m more than happy to share what I have learnt.

If you’re looking for a book editor, be clear about your expectations and ask questions. Don’t be shy! Find someone who is enthusiastic about your writing and your journey as a writer. Be clear about the fee structure (most freelance book editors ask for 50 percent up front) and the timeline (how long it will take and when it will be completed).

Happy scribing!