Hannah Bauman is a professional, freelance literary editor. She is responsible for editing more books than I can count.
Hannah was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to provide you with a fantastic Q&A session for the Extra Draft Writing Method course.
Then, she came back to offer this blog post contribution about the editing process. After you read her post, you can find her contact information at the bottom of the page. Then, check out another contributor to the Extra Draft course.
What Editors Do and How to Find One
Editors are known to be the ones behind the scenes, fixing everything from typos to grammar to punctuation mistakes. But there’s much more to editors than fixing basic errors in a manuscript.
There’s a lot that goes into editing a manuscript, from story structure to characterization to subplots to themes to grammar to formatting! (Try saying that five times fast.)
Just because there’s a lot that goes into a manuscript doesn’t mean it all happens at once, though. Editing is a lengthy process, but think about it: do you really want someone rushing through a manuscript just to check it off their to-do list? Probably not! An editor needs to be meticulous to help your manuscript be the best version possible.
What Editors Do
With that in mind, editors perform different phases of editing to cover all of the aforementioned (and more) elements. Sometimes they perform all phases themselves, and sometimes they work as a team to get the job done.
Developmental editing encompasses everything from plot to characterization to dialogue to story structure. These edits are large-scale edits meant to get the story in order. It’s important to complete these edits before anything else because they’ll include hefty changes to your manuscript as a whole.
Line editing is an intense stage of editing that helps improve the style of your writing. While grammar is still important at this stage, line editing focuses on the clarity of your words and the overall flow and tone.
Copy editing is what most people think of when they hear editing. Copy edits look at grammar, spelling, and punctuation. They’re crucial for cleaning up mistakes the slip into everyone’s manuscript.
Proofreading is the final type of editing. It’s the final clean-up before publication, and proofreaders need a keen eye for details, no matter how small.
Editors at publishing houses do all of the above. Likewise, freelance editors do too, but either for authors preparing to self-publish or submit to an agent/publisher. Freelancers also work with publishing houses when there’s overflow work, helping to keep publishing schedules on track.
Where to Find a Freelance Editor
If you’re looking for a freelance editor for your next project, some great resources include:
- The Editorial Freelancer’s Association (EFA), an American-based professional organization for editors
- American Copy Editors Society (ACES), another US-based professional organization for editors
- Editors’ Association of Canada, a Canadian-based professional organization for editors
- Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), a UK-based professional organization for editors
You can also look on social media, where you might find us under the hashtag #amediting, or in Facebook groups dedicated to editors.
How to Find the Right Editor For You
If you’re looking to work with a freelance editor on your project, you need to keep a few things in mind:
- Their genre specialties: do they have experience in your genre? This is especially important if you’re seeking a developmental edit.
- Their background and education: do they have experience and education in editing? Whether it’s a 4-year degree, a graduate degree, or a professional certification, a formally-trained editor is a safer choice than someone whose background is unknown.
- Their prices: do their prices fit your budget? Editorial rates vary by editor and by project type.
- Their openings: do they have availability in their schedule for when you’d like to give them the project?
Finally, be sure to ask for a sample edit. This is usually around 1200 words and may be free or cost a small fee. Seeing an editor’s style before you hire them is crucial to make sure they don’t change your voice. It also helps the editor know how much work they need to do.
Hiring an editor is a big step. Don’t let that deter you! If you are patient and find an editor you work well with and put in the work, you’ll learn a lot about your manuscript, yourself, and the publishing industry from the experience.
If you want to find Hannah Bauman online or join her Facebook Group (I highly recommend this!), you can do so with the links below: