Tips Before Hiring an Editor

Tips Before Hiring an Editor
March 7, 2017 3 Comments For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

When you’re finished with your first draft, it’s time to move onto the next phase, which is editing. Now editing is not easy to do and it’s definitely not something we should skimp on. I would tell everyone serious about publishing to hire an editor when their story was ready for one. So what do we need to do before we send our story off to an editor?

  • Know what you need. Do you need a developmental edit or just a line edit? What does your book need? Do you need help with flow, plot inconsistencies, character dimensionality, and plot? Or do you need to focus on sentence flow and word choice? What are your goals for editing and for your book? This will help you research for editors and get the most for your money. Just make sure you communicate your needs with your editor.
  • Self-edit first. I know you’re hiring an outside editor for lots of reasons—objectivity, fresh eyes, and expertise to say the least—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t edit your own work first. This will save you and your editor time and focus and that means saving yourself money. I talk about how to edit and revise here and here. Do a few passes of each. We don’t send our first drafts out to our editor, we send out the polished piece. Make sure your WiP is strong before you send it to your editor.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what you need the most help with will focus your editor on how to help you the most.

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Tips for Self-Editing

  • Take a break. Take at least two weeks off after you’ve finished writing before you begin editing. The longer you wait, the better. You need fresh eyes to see your work with to see the mistakes and weaknesses. Time off also gives you time to contemplate story problems and come up with solutions in your subconscious. Give it at least two weeks before you pick it up again.
  • Edit in passes. Concentrate on different things each run through. Make a list of things to edit for. Pass through developmental edits first. Then spelling, then grammar, then adverbs, etc. Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Read it aloud. Reading aloud will tell you how the story flows, whether your dialogue is working, and whether your sentences are working on a basic level.
  • Read backwards. This will help you pick up on mistakes and will help you focus on word choice. Read through it backwards at least once.

Know what you want to get out of your editing experience and help prepare for editing your story by a professional. Run through a few passes yourself and then research which editors are available and find what you need, whether that’s developmental edits or line edits. Do you need higher order concerns like plot consistencies, character development, chapter order and flow, and enough conflict looked over? Or do you just need sentence level concerns taken care of with line edits? What are your tips for editing and hiring an editor? Share below and happy writing.

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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
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  1. 3 Comments


    A very helpful article, thanks! I’ve been trialing editors for my current romance WIP, including industry stalwarts from The Big Four, to freelancers and hobbyists, *budget* options and the gurus who cost a pretty penny. From 9 to 5 I’m an editor myself, so it’s been great experiencing the process from a writer’s perspective. I’ve documented some tips below on what to look for in an editor (and what should send you running), which you might find interesting.

  2. 3 Comments

    Tips and Tricks to Save on Editing Costs - Our Write Side

    […] skills to authors. I have seen so many authors get badly burned because they hired sub-par editors, or they hire top notch editors (who are worth a pretty penny, and if you haven’t done any work […]

  3. 3 Comments

    Accepting Edits - Our Write Side

    […] step of the writing process. Editing comes next. Now we’ve been talking about editing all month, what to do before you hire an editor, how to self-edit, and comma and semicolon use, but today we’re going to talk about what to do […]


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