Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finding an Editor

Meet our guest blogger, Christine Frank, principal at Christine Frank & Associates, where she and a team of experts transform rough manuscripts into beautifully crafted, saleable products, ready for publication. This may occur through a copy edit, a design, a cover concept, an index, or a series of consultations. For more information, contact Christine at

How and where do you find an editor? And, once found, how do you pay her? Some bullet points follow, along with some do-it-yourself tips. A later post will discuss a few different types of editorial tasks and roles.

Three methods to use:
  • Referral, whether by word of mouth from another author or from a name in a book’s acknowledgments
  • Internet search. Try adding terms specific to your project like “biology AND editor” or “freelance editor”
  • Through an organization like a local writers or editors group. Examples are: the Red River Romance Writers of Oklahoma, The Writers Place Midwest Center for the Literary Arts of Kansas City, and the Washington Independent Writers of Washington, D.C.
And three not to:
  • Internet auction site like or
  • Internet site that is obviously made from a template and is vague about location or personnel (indicates an offshore entity that edits mostly through macros and spellcheck).
  • Asking a friend, neighbor, family member
Four maybes:
  • Craigslist
  • Lists where people pay to belong/advertise (Editorial Freelancers Association, Dan Poynter’s newsletter, certain directories)
  • Calling a university English department
  • Through an agency (Aquent, The Creative Group)
Asking for References—or not?
I am not a fan of asking for references because, like those listed in job applications, people use only those that they know will be favorable. You might get some before and after samples, but be aware that many editors cannot or will not share others’ work without permission. Also it is very hard to distance yourself from the other person’s writing and see how it will work for yours. Instead I recommend a sample edit from someone you have spoken to (even via e-mail) and think you can work with. I always use a sample edit. From my perspective, it is not always a happy experience – sometimes I never hear from the people again, or sometimes they wanted someone to work for shockingly low, lower than fast-food, pay. Sometimes we figure out that an author is sending out samples to as many editors as he has chapters, thus obtaining an entire edit free. We have good instincts for this after that fact; it happened to me twice last year (Hi, Bruno!)

Where to Find Customary Rates
  • Editorial Freelancers Association • Common editorial rates •
  • Bay Area Editors Forum • Rate survey from 2000 •
  • A thread about book editing rates •
Editing Tasks You Can Do Yourself
  • Create several editing checklists and make discrete, small passes to check a few items at a time. It could be people’s names and titles, geographical facts or spellings, or footnotes.
  • Don’t start at the beginning every time and read from front to back. Start at the back, or check all the even-numbered chapters or pages and then all the odd-numbered ones.
  • Ask a child or another handy, agreeable person to read your work aloud to you.
  • Alternate electronic and hard-copy editing.
  • Arrange your production schedule so you have time away from the manuscript between reads. Months are great, but weeks away also help you to come back with a fresh eye.


Kim said...

Great tips on getting started. Can't wait for the follow-up information!

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


C said...

Liked the editing tips. Thank you. You inspired my follow-up post on my blog...

Your marketing coach said...

Bobbi, discovered you (and your fabulous blog) by way of your article published in "World Wide Freelance Writer".

Thank you for your tips on finding an editor and for a list of things authors can do to edit their work themselves.

I teach a marketing bootcamp course for freelance writers and publish a resource list. Your blog has just been added.

I also downloaded your ebook "How to get your non-fiction book started" and am excited about reading it.

Thanks again.
All best,
Sonya Carmichael Jones