How to Find a Book Editor (A Brilliant One!)

An indie author’s search for a freelance book editor can be a daunting task. When you have worked so hard on a manuscript, it’s difficult to put your story in the hands of a stranger. And your book won’t be treated delicately by an editor. It will be underlined and dissected and inspected within an inch of its life. All for the greater good. You’re not going to get anywhere without a ruthless and savage editor. But still, letting someone do that to your words takes a huge amount of trust.

That’s why knowing how to find a book editor, and a brilliant one at that, is so important. In the worst case, a bad editor will waste your time, energy, and even your finances. But a fantastic editor will streamline the potential of your manuscript into its perfect form ready for publication. So what do you need to do to save your resources and invest in a great editor?

Know What An Editor Does

We could (and will) write an entire article on the specific role of an editor. But the main premise is simple. An editor will read your manuscript from a reader’s perspective in a way you, the writer, will never be able to do. They focus more on the needs of the readers than the ego of the author. An editor is a secondary, outside pair of eyes that notices mistakes, fixes them, and suggests improvements. They are a vital part of the self-publishing process.

It takes roughly 53 hours to copy edit a standard 80,000-word book.

That’s 53 hours spent meticulously analysing, fact-checking, correcting, rewording, and suggesting changes to something you wrote. That’s why an editor is necessary for anyone taking self-publishing seriously. Such attention to detail is invaluable.

And yet, editing does indeed have a financial value.

Consider Your Budget

The cost of an editor is not something to skimp on in your self-publishing budget. Maybe you can do the formatting if you have the time and precision. Maybe you can do the cover art if you have the artistic capacity. Maybe you can do the marketing if you have the social media know-how. But a writer cannot effectively edit their own writing. You need to hire an editor.

Thankfully, there are affordable editors in the world who can help you! Prices vary drastically. But as long as you’re informed about standard editing rates, you won’t be caught out. The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) classes a common copy editing rate as $30-40 per hour. For our hypothetical 80,000-word book, that would come in at $1,590 – $2,120.

At Savage Edits, our rate would come in on the lower end of the spectrum at $1,200.

That is because we work per word count. Therefore, none of your budget is wasted on procrastination or filler activities that often devalue hourly pricing. Instead, you pay edited-word-by-edited-word at the following rates:

  • Proofreading – $0.01 p/w
  • Developmental Editing – $0.012 p/w
  • Copy/ Line Editing – $0.015 p/w
  • Bundle Package (All 3 in 1) – $0.02 p/w

If someone offers you $300 to edit an 80,000-word book, you know the standard is going to be terrible. After all, they’re not going to spend 53 hours of their time effectively editing your book for only $6 an hour. Similarly, someone asking for $3,000 to edit an 80-000-word book is also ripping you off. Some great editors have indeed earned a brilliant reputations and raise their rates accordingly. However, there are also many fantastic editors out there with much more reasonable price ranges.

So find that sweet medium. Aim for affordable quality.

Find A Freelance Book Editor

One of the easiest ways to find a freelance book editor is through an agency. Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer have a large number of book editors in their databanks. However, these sites prioritise quantity. And they expect you to do the quality check. This can waste a lot of your time and, in the end, you might still have an editor with no backed-up credentials or experience. There are certainly jewels hidden in the masses. But is it worth your time sifting through the haystack?

A much better option is to ask fellow writers to recommend an editor. Reach out to an author friend, utilise social media, or ask on indie author forums. There are hundreds of Facebook groups for self-publishers. Post a status searching for endorsements. Or ask your Instagram followers for suggestions. Word of mouth is a reliable resource.

Alternatively, turn to a dependable source with deep editing knowledge and wide experience of the indie author world, where each handpicked editor has already been professionally quality checked and approved:

Start A Conversation

Don’t just dive straight into a contract with your editor. First, start a conversation. Get to know them. Ask some questions. Many of your inquiries will centre around the specific editing needs of you as an author. For example, “Have you edited fantasy novels?” or “Do you edit non-fiction?” or “Do you offer developmental editing?”. Other questions might be more general, such as “How long have you worked as an editor?” or “What do you enjoy about editing?” or “What’s your top editing tip for writers?”. Then, of course, you will also want to find out the practical parts. What are their rates? How long will an edit take? How do they take payment?

A decent editor will give honest and professional answers. They will also be interested in your book – and you! If an editor is just all about getting the client and making a sale, they won’t be invested enough in your book to edit it well. When considering how to find a book editor, trust those who take a genuine curiosity in your writing.

Request A Sample Edit

Any editor worth their salt will offer you a sample edit. After all, they want to show off their abilities. A great editor will have nothing to hide and take pride in flaunting their skills. A sample edit is an opportunity for you to see their services in action. It gives you a chance to experience things like their style of feedback before you move forward together. Then you have the chance to bring up any questions before beginning the editing process.

At Savage Edits, we offer a 1,000-word sample edit to all book authors. We are also happy to provide a free consultation over the phone or on Skype about any of your needs or concerns.

Hire Your Editor

Once you’re happy with your choice of editor, hire them!

Make sure you clearly agree on the exact service, a set rate, the payment method, and perhaps a possible deadline. For example:

The copy edit of an 80,000-word book at a rate of $0.015 p/w. The full sum of $1,200 is to be paid in two halves. The first sum of $600 after the completion of 40,000 words. The second sum of $600 after the competition of the full manuscript. To be paid via PayPal. Flexible deadline: 01.01.2020.

Of course, the exact agreement and terminology of contracts will vary. But it is important to establish a straightforward agreement so both you and the editor are on the same page. If you want to, also ask them to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to ensure the safety of your book content. Any authentic editor will agree.

Keep In Touch

And finally, keep in touch! Don’t be afraid to bother your editor with progress updates. After all, you are paying them a fair rate for their services. Your book is in their hands. A quality editor will maintain an open line of communication. They will keep you updated on developments, ask necessary questions, and let you know about any changes like deadline extensions.

However, while you deserve high-quality results from your editor, you don’t want to feel like you are only paying someone to do a job. The relationship between writer and editor can be an incredibly special one. A great editor will grow to love your book just as much as you do. Their work will be inspired by their own will for its success. Editors and writers might work together for years, each working hard to create something lasting and worthwhile.

At Savage Edits, we pride ourselves on having a friendly and cheerful connection with each of our writers. They know they can message us at any time, arrange a call, or a video chat, and get help with writer’s block or talk through a plot point or ask a question about character consistency. A good editor will genuinely care about your writing. They truly value good art, terrific storytelling, and the accomplishments of the indie author community.

If you want any more information on finding a freelance book editor, or if you want to hire a Savage Edits editor, get in touch! We would love to hear from you. So, now you know how to find a book editor, you can get back to doing what you do best – writing!