A lot of people think that when they contact an editor, the editor will just give them a price right away, correct spelling and grammar and hand the manuscript back, and that will be the sum total of the editor’s involvement. But your book is precious, and you need an editor who will also see your book as precious and will do it justice. This is what editors want to achieve for their clients.
To make sure they can achieve that goal, editors will ask you a number of questions to see if their skills and expertise fit well with the book you’re writing. These questions will guide you on how the editing process works, so you’ll get a greater insight into what an editor can do for you.
Here are three of the questions that an editor will ask you to help you decide if they’re the right fit for you.
What type of editing are you looking for?
Editing is about more than spelling and grammar. It’s about making language and structural changes that will help your book become the best book it can be. Editors will ask you whether you’re simply looking for spelling and grammar changes (proofreading) or whether you’d like more help. Editors can also help you to structure your sentences more effectively and check any facts you mention for accuracy. This is called copy-editing. They can also go even deeper and give you a chapter-by-chapter analysis of your story structure, giving you feedback on your plot, character, setting, point of view and overall language use. This is called developmental editing.
What genre are you writing in?
It could be argued that the principles of all stories and the skills required to edit them are the same, so in theory, an editor could edit any type of book. But to really bring out the best in your story, you’ll need an editor who understands the rules of your genre and adheres to the rules of that genre. For example, if you’re writing historical non-fiction, you would need an editor who is experienced at checking references and checking the formatting of a bibliography.
How far along are you with the book?
This is another way for an editor to determine how much editing will need to be done on your book. If you’re just finished your first draft, you would need fairly extensive editing advice, a developmental edit or an in-depth critique. The editor may even feel that it’s too soon for you to hire an editor, and you need to develop the story more yourself first, so the editor won’t have too much influence on its structure. If you’ve done all the drafts you can, but still need more work, a copy edit might be helpful. And if your book has already been professionally edited and is on its final draft before being published, a proofread may be all that’s needed.
If you’ve hired an editor, what questions have they asked you? And what questions have you asked them?