How to Find the Right Editor for Your Book

Looking for an editor? Barnes & Noble Press is excited to announce our partnership with Reedsy, a curated community of the best editorial, design, and marketing talent in the industry. Fine-tuning your manuscript can be challenging, but Reedsy hosts the top professional editors that will help prepare your book for the world of readers. To find out more, check out our partnership page and read on for Reedsy’s tips on how to find the right editor for your book.


3 Tips On Finding The Right Editor For Your Book

A Guest Post by Reedsy



“I need an editor” is probably the sentence we read or hear the most at Reedsy. It suggests that self-publishing has now entered a new stage of maturity in that almost every indie author serious about their craft knows the importance of having their books edited.

That said, there still is a lot of uncertainty and confusion as to what editors actually do, and how important it is to not just find a good editor, but the right one.

For this post, I turned to some of our most popular Reedsy editors and asked them a simple question: “what would be your #1 piece of advice for authors looking for an editor?” You’ll find their answers below, which will set you on the path to finding your dream editor!


1. Understand what type of editing you’re looking for


Most of the confusion we see around editing comes from the fact that there is more than one kind of editing. You can read our standard editing definitions here, but in my experience the best way to think about editing is in three stages:

  • The first one (developmental editing) is all about the structural and narrative elements of your book. In fiction, a developmental editor will analyze and critique your narrative arc, plot, characterization, dialogue, pacing and voice.
  • The second (copy editing) is all about the mechanics of your prose: your grammar, punctuation, consistency in style, etc.
  • The third one (proofreading) is a last check on the manuscript to remove any typos or errors that weren’t caught, or were introduced, in the previous editing rounds.

Not every manuscript needs to go through all these steps, and not every author has the budget to hire three separate editors. But it’s important to understand the different types of editing and know which kind you’re after. In the words of one of one Reedsy editor:

“Communicate clearly to your prospective editor in your own words (don’t worry about publishing lingo) what work has been done on the book thus far and what you think it needs now. What concerns do you want to address? Do you just want general feedback, or are you expecting hands-on editing of the text? Your editor can help you nail down the service that will fit your needs.” Aja Pollock, Developmental & Copy Editor


2. Look for qualified professionals with a track record


The next step is to start looking for editors. The trick is knowing how to evaluate the different profiles you will come across.

It goes without saying that you’re looking for someone with a lot of experience, ideally at one or several of the established traditional publishers because that’s where editors make their bones. Some of that experience should overlap with the genre of your book. And the editor should have a proven track record in the form of books in the market and reviews from other authors they’ve worked with. Jim Thomas, Developmental & Copy Editor

At Reedsy, we use very specific criteria to determine which editors we accept on our marketplace:

  • Traditional publishing experience, whether in-house or through freelance contracts;
  • 5+ years of editing experience in a specific genre and type of editing;
  • 10+ published books (with positive reviews) in their portfolio.

Whether you look for editors on Reedsy or elsewhere, I would urge you to apply these same criteria to separate real professionals from wannabe editors.


3. Contact several editors and get their thoughts on your manuscript


A common mistake authors make is they often hire the first good editor they come across. Remember: You don’t just want a good one. You want the right one.

So make sure you find several prospects and get in touch with all of them. Share a strong synopsis (to get them interested in working with you), and a sample of your manuscript (usually your first chapter). If you’re using Reedsy, we’ve incorporated all this into the “brief” you fill in to contact the editors you selected.

Then, just sit back and wait to hear from them. They’ll usually come back with thoughts on your synopsis or sample. Read those carefully, as they will give you some crucial insights on each editor’s style.

“The number one piece of advice I would give to a writer is to work with an editor who is enthusiastic about your project and who understands what you want to accomplish with the story. An editor is there to help you hone your voice, not to take over the book. At the end of the day it is your book and you want it to sing with your voice and vision.” Laurie Chittenden, Developmental Editor

“Always look for a real connection with a prospective editor. Qualifications are, of course, a primary consideration, but always look for a professional who shares your passion for the genre and subject matter. The relationship between writer and editor at its best is one of trust and collaboration.” Michael Rowley, Developmental Editor

If the chemistry is right, you’ll actually learn more about writing craft — and grow as a writer — than you would by taking a thousand writing courses. And chances are, it’ll be the start of a professional friendship that could last your entire career.


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