I often get the question, “How do I choose an editor?”
I often equate it to finding a childcare provider. Sounds silly, huh? Let me explain. When an author creates a manuscript it is much like a pregnancy. The author is creating, growing and producing something from within side of them. They prepare for the birth, which would be the release of the book and then they continue to help it grow which would be the marketing and promotion. So I suggest, finding someone with the same qualities you would want in a childcare provider for your child.
First of all, you want a professional. You will want someone whose references you can check and confirm. You will not want to hear what their best friend or sister thinks about them but what actual clients of their service think.
You will want someone firm yet caring. You need to work with someone who is not going to be afraid to reprimand mistakes and tell you about them, but will also be able to do it in a kind way. This will insure productivity as opposed to putting the author on the defense.
You will want someone educated in that field. Unfortunately, there are no licenses or boards governing the conduct or education of editors. There are no mandated continuing education classes as there are with most professional careers. It is up to the editor to stay active in educating themselves and keeping up with changes. A lot of people think that since they can spot typographical errors in their favorite books, that they can be an editor. This is not true.
Ask your editor what Style Guide they will be using. Most fiction uses The Chicago Manual of Style but some publishers such as Triple Crown Publications prefer The AP Style Guide. Your script needs to have a consistent style so it is imperative that one of these is used. Your editor should also include with his or her service, a style sheet that is specific to your writing. If they don’t know what this is or don’t do this, don’t use them.
As with any type of service, make sure that your editor provides you with specific contracts detailing their obligation to you and your financial obligation to them. When making payments via Pay-Pal, be sure to mark it as payment for a service should there ever be any disputes. If you are paying via check or money order, be sure to designate specifically what the payment is for in the memo section.
Lastly, make sure you have an open line of communication with your editor. There are a few terrific editors out there who can help introduce your baby to the world in style. Unfortunately, there are also several want-to-be editors who are looking to take advantage of people and their dream. Make sure you are as careful and as thorough as you would be if you were choosing a childcare provider and you should be just fine.
You can check out our editing service at www.21StreetUrbanEditing.com or if you have any specific questions, you can always email those to questions@21StreetUrbanEditing.com
Co-Founder of 21st Street Urban Editing & Publishing