Top things you should know before hiring a professional editor

Putting together an incredible manuscript is an investment by itself. However, before you send it to the editor, there are few things that you should keep in mind to enhance your success. Let us go through a few of the things.

Edit your first draft before hiring someone to look at it

Now that you have completed writing your book, it is time to celebrate. You should really celebrate it. However, most of the writers become too lazy to look at the manuscript anymore. They just hire someone to edit it from the word goes. You may put the manuscript aside for some time then pick it up for rereading.

When rereading, make notes on the weakness and the strengths of the book. Look at the missing parts of your story and flag down areas that you find yourself skimming so that you can revisit later. Make changes to the manuscript accordingly. Only hire a professional when you have made sure that the book looks the best that you can. Hiring a professional editor is an important step before querying an agent or self-publishing.

Do not confuse the editor with your ghostwriter

Some writers (usually new writers) believe that the book is ready for editing once they have put together an outline, research notes, and other scripts. They look forward to having the editor transform the work into a complete manuscript. Well, that’s ghostwriting, not editing.

The editor is Not a ghostwriter. That means he or she will not do extensive research on your behalf. He/she will not invent characters, write the missing scenes or flesh out the dialogue. Instead, hire a ghostwriter if that’s what you’re seeking. Ghostwriters will put together the pieces of your book into a complete manuscript.

Editors invest more on the kind of books they enjoy reading

It is important that the editor loves your work from the word go. Ask them about the type of books they enjoy most reading, who their clients are and their successes, and also, ask for a sample edit. You should know if their style will match yours. After all, it is a substantial investment, so you need to get the best experience possible out of it.

The editor should exhibit genuine excitement about your book project. If you find that the editor is somewhat lukewarm, disengage and walk away. The experience might end up being a disaster for both of you. It does not have to be an editor that specializes in your genre (even if preferable), but just one that feels committed to your work. Ideally, the editor should be familiar enough with the genre to know what’s out there and what works.

Prepare yourself for all kinds of criticism and feedback

This may seem obvious, but prepare yourself for a lot of constructive criticism!!! Your work will NOT be perfect, and this is why it’s important to have a new set of eyes and perspective to your project. Unfortunately, most writers think that the editor will come back saying ‘this is perfect!’ or ‘you only need to work on your punctuation, and you will be ready for publication.’ Let’s say it’s probably not going to happen.

In many times, you will hear such feedback after doing your tenth revision or so. In fact, you may find that he or she finds gross mistakes on your most favorite part of the book. Do you know the expression “Kill your darlings?” Keep in mind that getting rid of or modifying your favorite part might be needed. Most editors will go back and forth 2 or 3 times with you, so make sure you discuss all aspects of your book.

Talk with your editor on various areas that he or she points out in your book. You may not agree with the suggestions, but you should definitely look at the shortcomings that are noted in the manuscript. At the end of the day, you may choose to ignore the advice, but before doing so, open your mind and give it a listening ear.

You will take lots of time in revision

Most of us are exhausted when we are done writing a book. It is understandable. We end up feeling desperate when revision suggestions start streaming in. But, you need to take it, don’t stop before the end and take the risk to have a half-baked book. Be prepared to do a lot of rewriting!

There is a big difference between the need to write better and wanting to publish this book. If you do not want to write any other books, you may just be looking for an editor to fix your book up rather than teach you how to edit the book yourself. That is not wrong at all. Just make sure that the editor knows this beforehand.

However, if you look forward to writing additional books, look for an editor that walks you through the process so that you can learn how it is done and implement it in your next book. This will make your successive books easier to perfect.

Tell the editor the purpose of the book

It is important that the editor knows what you expect the reader to feel and think on reading page after page of your book. Although you know it, the editors cannot read your mind. Make sure your editor knows the exact thing you want, so he or she is better placed to take you there. Otherwise, he or she may turn the book away from its goal and defeat the purpose for penning it down in the first place.

A professional editor will not write the book for you, so you need to contact him/her only once your book is the best it can be. Write the first draft of your book, leave it for a while and read many books in your genre. Then do a substantial edit, give it to beta readers, and edit again. Then yes, you can start considering paying a professional editor. An editor will bring your book to the next level.


Editors can turn a good book into a great book, but if the writing is mediocre at best and the plot and characters lack structure and depth, then they can only make your book readable at best. It’s important that you only hire an editor when your book truly is the best it can be on your own. Editors have your best interest at heart, so make sure you develop a good partnership with the editor and get him/her to care.

Originally posted on lmdurand.com