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Writer Beware: 3 Tips To Help You Choose An Editor

Editors and Writing Coaches

by Jennifer on August 10, 2011

This is a guest post by fiction author, Tori Bailey.

A friend of mine once said education is expensive–sometimes we do not pay a lot for our life lessons and sometimes the price can be steep.

Maneuvering the world of publishing can be daunting for a new writer. That’s when it’s nice to be able to look to seasoned professionals, like editors and writing coaches, to help guide you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, there are predators that prey on the ignorance of those seeking to fulfill their dreams of being in print.  When choosing an editor or writing coach, there are 3 basic areas to consider.

1. Look For An Editor With Real Credibility
The first is credibility and experience in the publishing field. Doing a Google search is not a strong litmus test for either of these things.

Another weak test is only checking a potential editor or writing coach’s website.  Websites are like a resume;  everyone is going to put their best foot forward and try to bury any negative details.

When considering a professional to help clean up your work or improve your skills, ask for references of current or previous clients.  Inquire what published books they provided editing service for.

The most important thing is get details that you can fact check.

2. Make Sure The Editor Is Professional
Professionalism is another area where red flags can be found.

  • Does the editor keep her deadlines? 
  • If a phone conference or meeting has been scheduled, are they on time and prepared?
  • Will there be a contract?  This contract should detail the expectations of parties involved, payment arrangements and time limits.  Verbal agreements tend to leave the door open to misunderstandings.

Professionalism goes beyond the way an editor conducts his business. It also includes how he conducts himself.

There should be a professional-friendly working relationship.  This does not entail having to endure listening to personal problems, financial woes or how horrible other clients are.

One past editor of mine was constantly changing the terms of our agreements, asking for payments to be made to different accounts and even requested that a payment be sent via Western Union to a personal credit card.

3. Choose An Editor Who Shares Your Vision
The final and most important tip is making sure the editor you hire shares your vision for your writing career.

The world of publishing is transforming every day.  If your goal is to go the traditional publishing route, then that should be the same goal as your editor or writing coach.

A writer once shared at a conference that her editor attempted to talk her into starting a subsidiary publishing company.  The editor assured the writer he could teach her how to set up the publishing company, supply the needed subcontractors to produce the book and  make the whole outfit look like a traditional press book.

Luckily, the writer terminated her relationship with this editor before things got ugly.
Bottom line, this is your writing career. It’s up to you to find the right editor to help polish your work and improve your talent before you present it to an agent or publisher.

The best way to shop for an editor or writing coach is though referrals. 

Attend writer conferences or ask fellow writers. Become a member of a writer’s group or critique group.

But most of all ask a lot of questions and trust your instincts.  Don’t let your experience become an expensive education.

About The Author: Tori Bailey is the author of Coming Home.  She is currently working on the second novel in the Coming Home series, Ethel’s Song, which is scheduled for release in October 2011.  Many of her short stories appear in the Southern Ezine, Dew on the Kudzu.  A native Georgian, Tori enjoys writing about life in the South.  She currently makes her home in the Athens, Georgia-area with her husband and three rescue cats.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ghost writer August 12, 2011 at 6:39 am

Hi Jennifer,
The first thing: 7 outta 10 times i open your webpage, I get an internal server error. I have to refresh the page a couple of times to get in 🙁

Hello Tori,
I believe your tips will help many newbies like me. But could you please post in a comment, which are the most common scams with which an editor may come after a writer?

2 jennifer blanchard August 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

@ghost writer I don’t know why that is. I need to check with my hosting company. Thanks for letting me know!

3 Tori Bailey August 14, 2011 at 3:46 am

@ghost writer, I have not encountered any scams. My best advise is to do some research on a potential editor before comitting to them. Always have a termination agreement to end services.

4 EPDALLAS August 17, 2011 at 2:22 am

Coming to this website was like fate, because I am the epitome of a full fledge procrastinating writer lol. * Going off to read more articles*

5 Lauren @ Pure Text August 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm

The bit about the editor who kept asking you to pay to different accounts actually made my stomach turn! Lol. Seriously. Especially after imagining editors who would complain about other clients or personal problems. Seriously, that sounds awful!

I strive to be as professional as possible–I would never act close to that. I didn’t think any editor would. But I guess editors are people too, and some can’t contain themselves! lol.

Anyway, choosing an editor who shares your vision is the most important piece of advice in this post. Being careful about choosing a credible editor is a given, but once you’ve got one, you have to make sure they’ll be right for you because depending on the level of editing, an editor will often be offering pure opinion. Their opinion can be based on editorial experience…but can also be based on personal experience.

Lastly, referrals are great, but as a new editor, I’m not that well-known yet. That’s why I encourage people to engage me, to ask me questions, to request free samples. A million people can refer you to one editor, but they may still not be right for *you* for whatever reason. That’s something you have to find out on your own–by talking to them, and hopefully not by making an expensive mistake.

6 Tori Bailey August 28, 2011 at 3:22 am

@ Lauren, thank you for your feedback. You made some interesting points.

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