Congratulations on reaching the stage of your self-publishing adventure where you’re ready to bring an editor on board! Working with an editor who understands your message and has the ability to refine it through careful revision suggestions can be a transformative experience. Often, the first round of edits reveals that some crucial rethinking and reorganizing of information is advisable, and sometimes this is the impetus for taking the book to a new and unexpected angle or depth, if the author is willing to allow there perspective to incorporate different perspectives. In this post, I’ll explore the essential steps to take when approaching an editor and beginning the groundwork for selecting not just a good editor but an editor who sees the potential of your work and knows how to implement the necessary processes to take the book and the author from first draft to publication-ready—or at least ready for the next phase of editing, which may be with a different editor.
So, where to begin?
Approaching an Editor with Your Project
The first question to ask yourself is whether you know what kind of an editor you should be looking for. If you don’t know the answer to that question, the answer is almost certainly developmental editor.
Do I Need a Specialized Editor?
Not necessarily. Many versatile editors can handle a range of projects, but the more specialized your genre is the more likely that it would be advantageous for you to work with someone familiar with your subject and its terminology and the expectations of your target audience. Prioritize finding someone who understands your vision and can enhance your storytelling and overall readability.
Choosing the Right Fit
Explore the websites of multiple editors to find the ones that align with your vision for the project. While you may find an editor who resonates with you immediately, it’s beneficial to have a list of potential collaborators. This not only provides you with options but also allows you to navigate scheduling and payment details more smoothly.
Once you’ve identified potential editors, reach out to them with a personalized email. Briefly reiterate your project details, express your interest in working with them, why you think they would be a good fit for you, and inquire about their availability. Be prepared to discuss logistics, such as timelines and payment terms, during this initial communication.
Introduce Yourself and Your Project
Introducing yourself and your project to potential editors. In your initial email, provide a concise overview of your writing background, the genre of your manuscript, a brief summary of your work, and your anticipated timeline. If you have a specific budget in mind, make sure to communicate that clearly, especially if the editor’s pricing isn’t available on their website.
Setting Expectations: Timeline (Including Revisions)
Clearly outline your timeline for completing the editing process and releasing your book, and keep in mind that time for completing and checking revisions will also be necessary. Editors often have busy schedules, and coordinating your expectations with their availability is crucial.
Sample Chapters & Sample Edits
After the initial contact, the conversation may turn towards sample chapters. Some editors may request a sample from your manuscript before committing to the project, while others may offer sample edits to showcase their skills. Be prepared to share a portion of your work, if you are comfortable with your communications with the editor and their credentials and professionalism at that point. Inquire about the editor’s policies regarding sample requests.
Not all editors provide free sample edits, and not all authors are comfortable sharing excerpts of their books before a relationship has been established . If an editor doesn’t explicitly mention sample edits on their website, it’s fine to ask if they offer this service, but don’t assume they would offer this service for free.
Samples from several different editors should give you an idea of which you resonate with most in terms of style and skill.
The collaborative process of working with an editor can significantly enhance the quality of your self-published work. By approaching this phase of the project with clear communication and expectations that you will probably need to spend some significant time working through revisions, you’ll set the stage for a successful partnership that brings your vision to life.