Monday, March 30, 2015

Five Steps Toward the Right Editor

Our special guest today is writer and editor, Karin Beery.

By Karin Beery

Every writer needs an editor—not an English teacher friend or well-read spouse, an honest to goodness editor. I won’t go into the necessity of it now (the January 5th post on my blog tells you why—you can read it here). I’m simply going to ask you to trust me. If you’re writing, you will eventually need an editor. The trick is to find the right one.

When I started my journey toward publishing a novel, I hired an editor friend of my husband. She had an impressive resume and offered me a deal on the price, so I hired her. Hundreds of dollars later I had a very nice edit, but it didn’t do any good. A non-fiction editor, she marked all of the formatting, punctuation, and grammatical errors, but she didn’t catch the telling, the backstory, or the head-hopping. Even though I’d had the manuscript professionally edited, I earned nothing but rejections from agents and editor.

When you’re ready to hire an editor, do your research. Here are a few things to consider:

Their expertise
Don’t hire a fiction editor for your Web copy. Don’t hire a technical editor for your novel. There are subtle but important differences between journalistic, fiction, memoir, technical, and copywriting. Make sure you hire someone who knows those differences.

Their education
A degree in English won’t cut it. Neither will the fact that he or she has edited a book. There’s a lot to know about the different writing markets and their guidelines. Make sure your editor has done the research and educated himself or herself with that information. An easy way to check on their education leads to #3 …

Their resources
Book and magazine publishers do not use the same guidelines for punctuation and grammar. Your editor should use the Chicago Manual of Style for books and the AP Stylebook for journalistic writing. If he’s using any other resource, question it.

Their affiliations
There’s no guarantee that a member of the Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network will be a good fit for you, but someone who has invested the time and money to join a professional network has the resources and connections to figure out what you need, or at least find someone who can help you. It’s not a foolproof standard, but most people who put the time and money into professional groups are taking advantage of the services and education provided through those groups.

Their personality
You’re entrusting this editor with your baby. If you’re a black-and-white, tell-me-how-it-is kind of person, look for an editor who can communicate with you on that level. If you’re a gentle soul, look for an editor who can relate to you that way. Writing is a vulnerable endeavor. You need to work with someone you connect with so you can work well together to create the best possible version of your manuscript.

Karin Beery is a wife, caregiver, homemaker, and the owner of Write Now Editing Services. She has had more than 450 articles published in various periodicals, in addition to writing her novels. She is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, the American Christian Writers Association, and The Christian PEN: Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network. She is represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at WordWise Media. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, or at

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