How-to Guide: Editors

With the growing popularity of self-publishing and Indie publications, it is becoming more and more important for writers to know more than wordsmithing. It can be difficult to learn all the skills you need, like finding a Cover Designer or deciding on an Editor. Heck, trying to find Beta-Readers can be a whole new experience for a lot of writers. This is the second post in a series of How to Guides to help provide resources and guidance for writers.

Today is our How-to Guide on editors with special guest Charlie Knight. Charlie is a queer editor and author, a mom, and an unapologetic nerd. They have been editing professionally for 10+ years and launched their own brand two years ago to dedicate their services to indie authors.

Q: As a writer and reader, how important do you believe editors are to the writing process? Β 

Simply put, you’re not finished writing a book just because you wrote “The End.” Editors are trained not only in technical skills like grammar and punctuation but also to adapt specific word choice and sentence structure for genre, audience, emotion, actionability, etc. Editors have knowledge and skills in identifying and closing plot holes, in creating or restructuring character arcs, in establishing or improving pace. A writer puts the story together, and then partners with an editor to elevate that story and their own voice.

Q:Β At what stage of writing a book should a writer look for an editor?

You can start shopping around at any time. If the sample pages that you send them end up changing before the final version, that’s okay. You should choose and prepare to book an editor when you’re just about done with your own final revisions – whether that comes after beta readers or just after your first draft is all up to the individual writer.

Writers should keep in mind that most editors are booking at least a couple months out and that editing is a process. It takes time if it’s done well. It’s also important to remember that anything could happen to slow down or delay the editing process. So what I’m saying is, the stage of writing a book when you’re one month out from a planned publication date is too late to find an editor.

Q: What should a writer consider before searching for an editor?

There are a lot of factors that should go into choosing the right editor for you: cost, editing style, even their personality. You want to build a partnership with your editor; it should feel like you can trust them and that they “get” your voice. It might take some looking to find the right editor, but it’ll be worth it.

Q: How much should a writer expect to spend on an editor?

Unfortunately, the answer is often way too much. The industry standard is $0.02 per word just for developmental edits, so you’re talking thousands of dollars pretty easily for a full edit. Some editors are finally coming around to realize that indie authors will never be able to afford that but do deserve professional services, but the change is happening slowly.

Q: How do you recommend people find or decide upon an editor? What are things they should ask or discuss with potential editors?

I would recommend starting by asking other authors who they’ve used or heard good things about. The writing community is a great resource for that. When it comes to searching for the right editor for you, get a quote and a sample edit first and foremost. That will tell you right away what to expect from their editing style and, of course, whether or not it’s in your budget. If you can, follow the editor on social media as well. Getting to know them as a person may make the hiring decision for you.

Q: What do you wish writers better understood about editors?

Your editor should be your partner. An editor who comes in red pen blazing and orders changes on every part of your book that made it yours is not valuable to you. Nor is an editor who wants to placate you instead of making necessary changes, even if they’re hard to swallow. Editors exist to improve your writing and to improve you as a writer.

Do you have other questions for Charlie? Comment below and we will get you answers!

If you are interested in checking out their services, Charlie is active on twitter under the handle @CKnightWrites

2 thoughts on “How-to Guide: Editors

  1. Are you considering to write a book? I know what ever you do decide, you will be successful !!

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Charlie is awesome! Very cool that you got to interview them.

    I used to think that editors were just focused on grammar, but over time, I’ve learned about how they focus on so many other things too and I agree that they are key.

    I also plan to start looking for an editor once I make my final revisions (probably after another round of beta readers :)). Charlie’s advice on the amount of time needed is helpful too. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

    I didn’t think about personality as much before, but that’s an excellent point. I see now why that would be key as well.

    Yeah the standard is a bit costly. Thankfully, my main story is short, but I feel nervous about how much it’s going to cost when I write my next major story (which will be a novel length, based on what I’m envisioning). Glad the change is starting to happen though.

    Great tips! I’ve been wondering about the best ways to find an editor πŸ™‚

    And that makes sense about an editor being a partner too πŸ™‚ While I am still at least months out from looking for an editor, I am looking forward to the partnership with an editor on my story. πŸ™‚

    Excellent post as always!


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