Five things to expect from an editor

1. A conversation

Before quoting, an editor may ask a few questions to learn a little more about you and your project. I like to ask about your writing experience, your imagined reader, your influences. This helps me understand how to approach the edit and how to frame my feedback.

2. A request for an extract

An editor will ask to see an example of your work before they quote. I ask for three extracts: a bit you really like, an average bit, and a gnarly bit. This gives me an idea of what is needed and how long it will take.

Be wary of an editor that quotes a per-word rate without seeing an extract. You may be getting an off-the-shelf edit rather than one that’s tailored for your needs.

 3. A sample edit

Not all editors offer this, but I think it’s vital. Hiring an editor is a significant step, so you need to be confident that they are right editor for you. Getting a sample edit can be especially helpful if you are approaching a few editors for a quote.

4. Explanations and queries (suggestions not corrections)

Changes that fix spelling, grammar or punctuation are straight forward and usually don’t need explanation, but other changes will be accompanied by a polite query or rationale so you can make an informed choice about whether to accept or decline them.

Sometimes the editor may query rather than suggest a change. For example if some dialogue seems out of character, or there’s an inconsistency or logic flaw that they can’t solve.

5. A style sheet

If you are self publishing, a style sheet and word list will be very useful for your proofreader (potentially saving a bit of time/money). A style sheet details choices the editor has made (based on choices you made) about variable spellings (e.g. aunty or auntie) punctuation styling (e.g. single or double quotes), and spellings of technical terms, character names etc. The editor will have made a style sheet as they go along, so it’s okay to ask for one if they haven’t provided it with the final edit.

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