How I Found My Editor
In the beginning, I published without sending my books to an editor. And I have the reviews to prove it. LOL!
After some really hurtful comments and reviews, I decided to hire an editor.
I contacted two. I found them by looking at the books of authors I like to read.
One that I approached asked for a 1,000 words to sample edit. However, when I got the draft back she had tried to change a lot of my story and the way I write.
Another editor, Kasi Alexander, I contacted is an editor for Jenika Snow. She is one of my favorite authors and I one click all of her books.
Kasi offered to do a sample edit. She was very thorough and we hit it off from the very beginning. She has not only helped me to improve my writing, she has also helped me be more confident when I hit PUBLISH! She is quick, efficient, communication is excellent, and I hardly every have a bad review for typos or errors now. She has been a HUGE help to me.
Since I’ve started helping new authors with their writing career, I get questions all the time either about how to contact my editor or how to find an editor. I wanted to write this blog post to help other authors that are searching for an editor, but wasn’t sure exactly what they were looking for or how to go about it.
I decided to interview my editor, Kasi Alexander, to help answer any questions you may have.
Interview with Kasi Alexander, Editor:
Tell me a little about yourself and your experience as an editor.
I’ve been editing professionally for about seven years now. Before that I was a secretary for a long time. I left that job to focus on my own writing (my writing partner and I have published ten romance novels) and also our small family chainmail business (www.valkyriedesignllc.com). We traveled the country for over two years selling our chainmail jewelry and costuming, but when our RV died and my partner took some time off to donate a kidney to his father, we settled just north of New Orleans and I started focusing more on editing to pay the bills. It’s grown very nicely and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
What do you like about working with authors?
I love helping authors make their writing as smooth and professional as possible. Everyone I’ve worked with has been super nice and I’ve loved getting to know them and watching them grow and perfect their craft. I love the fact that I can work anywhere, and, of course, getting to read all day is nice too!
Who do you edit for?
I’ve edited for Steve Berry, Anne Rice, Heather Graham, 1001 Dark Nights, Hope Ford, Jenika Snow, Erika Reed, Elle Good, and quite a few other authors.
What all niches do you edit?
I have edited everything from safe romance to horror. I have a client that writes science fiction and a few that write suspense. I’ve done some academic editing and I do career articles for Indeed.com, as well as proofreading transcribed earnings calls from large corporations. I’m open to pretty much anything.
How did you get started in editing?
I was a secretary for a long (long!) time. During that time I designed and proofread a lot of materials. At some point I decided I needed to get comfortable speaking in public so I designed a professional writing course for our local night school (Colorado Free University). I discovered that I’m one of those strange people that love researching language oddities and being able to explain obscure points of grammar. Around then my writing partner and I started putting out books and I discovered how much I love the editing process. So I started looking for editing clients and it just built from there.
How do you suggest an author find an editor?
Ask around, especially other authors whose books you enjoy. Another option (if you don’t mind sorting through tons of applications) is Upwork.com or freelancing sites like that–but make sure you get a sample edit. You have NO idea what you’re dealing with there. Editors have a HUGE range of prices, as well as very different skills and specialties. Keep in mind what level of editing you want. It helps to know what areas you need help with, what your readers mention most frequently, and what you personally would like to change. A good editor could help with all of that.
When you are looking for an editor, what questions should you ask potential candidates?
What do you charge? I find a per word cost to be the most helpful. That way everybody knows up front what the end price will be, as opposed to per hour, which may not be estimated correctly beforehand. Per page is a little odd because that will depend on page breaks, font size, spacing, etc. Better to avoid potential squabbles about those kinds of things.
What is included in that? (Will the editor do a second read after you’ve gone through and made corrections?) Do you just change things or make comments? Do you suggest alternate wording for awkward sentences? For the author: It’s very helpful to know your own preferences there. Are you willing for them to just change things and let you decide whether to accept them or do you prefer that they put bigger changes in comments and let you make the change? Is anything off-limits?
Will you do a short sample edit so we can see if we’d be comfortable working together? About 2000-3000 words is enough to get a feel for each other’s styles, I think, and isn’t too time-consuming for the editor. If they’re unwilling to do that, they’re probably going to be a pain in the ass about other things too.
Can I contact a few of your other clients? If so, ask about reliability and meeting deadlines, as well as the obvious – whether you’ve (or readers have) found things they missed. Of course there will be the occasional mistake but there shouldn’t be more than 3 or so typos per book when they’re done.
What is your time frame? This is hard to judge and varies wildly between editors. I personally would not hire an editor that wouldn’t commit to 4 weeks or less for a first round. There’s no reason for that kind of delay, in my opinion.
How do you know if you picked the right editor for YOU?
The most important thing is that the editor is respectful and you have a good rapport. As an editor, I can tell you that it’s tempting sometimes to make smartass comments about mistakes or inconsistencies or oddly worded sentences. As an author, I can also tell you that I know how offensive or hurtful those can sometimes be. Find an editor that resists the urge to make snarky comments and is willing to discuss or explain points that you don’t understand. You have to be comfortable asking for clarification and they have to be able to explain their suggestions or changes without either one of you becoming offended or defensive. They also have to be flexible and respectful of the level of editing you want. It’s your book, after all. If you only want typos, punctuation and glaring errors corrected, that’s your prerogative. If you’d like to have them point out problems with style, voice, point of view, pacing, and flow, let them know up front. You don’t have to take their suggestions, but it’ll save everyone time if expectations are clear from the beginning.
What all does an editor do?
The main reason to have an editor is to point out things that could turn off readers. No author likes getting reviews that point out their typos, grammar mistakes, or plot inconsistencies, and any editor should be able to catch those. Beyond that, the point of an editor is to make sure that the book reads smoothly and the reader isn’t distracted by things that pull them out of the story. It’s an odd comparison, but in “A Chorus Line,” Michael Douglass (I think?) said, “Don’t pull my focus.” That’s what an editor does – allows the reader to stay engrossed in the story without being distracted by minutiae. That said, it’s your book and your writing style, and if the editor points out something that isn’t “technically” correct, if you’re self-pubbed, it’s always your choice to accept or reject the change. There have been lots of writers that didn’t follow the “rules,” but readers don’t tend to enjoy reading mainstream fiction that has odd spelling, wording, dialects, or accents that are spelled out excessively.
How important is it to have a sample edit done for you?
I think it’s very important. You want to know if the editor can respect your style while catching the small things that you miss (since you’re more likely reading with the big picture in mind). I recommend putting in some intentional mistakes and going through it to see if they caught them all (including at least one change in name or place spelling or hair color, and one stupid mistake so you can see how they deal with it). Definitely ask questions about suggestions they make that you don’t understand. If they’re changing a lot of things that don’t make sense to you or sound overly picky, they could simply be too heavy-handed for you. Fiction has a lot of leeway and you’re completely entitled to write in your own style. If you aren’t sure, send the sample to another author (or a beta reader or another editor) and get an opinion. When you start working with an editor, pay attention to comments or reviews to see if they change. That should give you an idea if your money is being spent wisely.
Thank you Kasi for taking the time to answer all of our questions!
Readers, do you have a question not answered here? Let me know. Shoot me an email and I will be happy to update with more information.
If you are in need of an editor, you can reach Kasi at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, thank you for reading!