Writer Beware: 3 Tips To Help You Choose An Editor

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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