Congratulations! You’ve finished your book. You’ve spent hours planning, writing, re-writing, and exhausting your brain getting your thoughts out on paper. Though your best friends have said your writing is excellent, perhaps you don’t fully trust their judgment. You want to know, to really know, whether what you have is good, and if so, how to make it great. What you need is an editing service.
Alright, so after typing “editing service” into Google, you see that there are pages and pages of results. Right off the bat, some seem like scams. You immediately dismiss those. But once you’ve narrowed the list down to the ones that might actually provide you with the editing you need, you’re left flailing about how to choose the one that best suits you. How do you choose? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
Having sat exactly in your shoes, concerned I was making the wrong choice for my novel, I have a few pieces of advice that might help ease the tension of this decision:
- Understand your editing needs.
Do you want the book edited for publication?
What level of editing do you need?
How important are the editor’s comments?
If you’re considering getting an agent, what might that agent need from you?Not all editing services will provide you with the same resources. You need to assess if the group with which you’re considering working can provide you with everything you need.
- Determine if the editing service you’ve selected can meet your editing needs.
There are many styles of editing. It is important to understand what you need and want before contracting an editor.If you need the book to be edited and formatted for publication, can the company deliver?
Does the company have a track record of success?
- Consider your budget.
The best editing services come at a premium, especially if you need anything additional, such as a query letter or book jacket cover. If you feel confident in writing those yourself, perhaps you might save a few dollars. But recognize that trusting professionals to write these important documents for you might better set you up for success in the market.
- Ask for a sample of the service’s editing work.
Many will offer a free sample as part of the process anyway, but if not, you want to understand if the company’s editing method gels with your goals. Not every editor/author partnership will be fruitful. Don’t feel hemmed in by the first person with whom you come in contact. Each editor has a slightly distinct style, much as each author writes differently. Make sure it’s a good fit.
- Don’t sell yourself short.
This is crucial. Your project is important and deserves to be treated so by your editor. You deserve to know that one specific, dedicated person is working on your book. Any reputable editing service will be up front about which editor you are working with, that person’s background, and if they have handled writing of your type previously.
- Ask questions.
Last, never feel that you can’t ask questions. The best combinations of editor and author involve back-and-forth, with one party asking questions of the other to ensure that the final product reflects the best efforts of each person involved.This brings back an issue from point #5: if your editor lacks experience in working with your genre and type of writing, the end product will not be as good as it could be. Any editing service you choose will have a deep bench of editors, each of whom has one or more focuses. Ensure that your assigned editor knows your style of writing inside and out.
Once you know how to choose an editor, you have done the hard part already. Staring at a blank page, hoping to generate words from the ether, is much harder than the editing process. If you choose an editor correctly, he or she will transform the collection of words over which you have pored for hours, weeks, and days into something remarkable. The job of an editor, in writing as in television or film, is to take the raw material and mold it into a polished, finished product.
I know that the plethora of editing options available to anyone with an internet connection might seem daunting, but fear not. If you are diligent in your research and follow the steps I outlined above, there is no reason your experience would not be beneficial. You will leave the editing process with the satisfaction that you, a writer, have something of which you can be proud. And, really, isn’t that the goal?