How To Avoid Hiring A Bad Editor

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To publish a professional book that your readers will love for years to come, you need to hire an editor.

It’s not an option, it’s a must. And this is because the editor has the advantage of fresh eyes plus the editing chops to get the most out of your book.

Their new perspective will identify your book’s weaknesses, how to improve it, where the transitions need to be rewritten, when a section needs more support, and where you should add a story or have a stronger voice.

A good editor accomplishes all of that in a swift manner so you can meet your book launch deadline and start making money.

On the other hand, a bad editor can:

  • Change the mission and purpose of your book
  • Misunderstand the voice you’re going for
  • Make poor edits that worsen your book
  • Leave grammar or spelling errors unrevised
  • Miss their deadlines

The difference between hiring a good editor and a bad one is a mile wide.

And when you’re trying to publish a book for the first time, the last thing you want to worry about is problems with your editor.

You shouldn’t have to worry about firing your editor or pushing your book launch back three weeks because of their sloppy work. There’s already enough stress in life to add more to it.

To ensure a smooth editing process, just 1) do your due diligence, 2) communicate clear expectations, and 3) set deadlines. Then you will avoid hiring a bad editor and having a terrible setback.

Do Your Due Diligence

Although it’s way less formal in the author and editor relationship, it’s best to think of yourself (the author) as a hiring manager and the editor as a job candidate.

You wouldn’t just hire anyone who applies. You would do your diligence to make sure you picked a solid fit who showed the best signs of succeeding in the role.

This is what I look for in an editor:

1. They need to have experience.

You want someone who has edited a book before and knows what they’re doing. So whether you message, email, or get on a Skype call, ask the candidate what books have they edited. Then go a step further to check out the book’s Amazon preview to gauge their performance. Also, scroll through the book reviews to find out if poor editing is mentioned.

2. They need to have solid reviews.

If you’re hiring through Upwork or another service site, check their reviews on their previous editing work. I’d check their average rating, and more importantly read what previous customers said of their work. This is how you catch red flags before you hire someone.

3. They need to understand my voice and mission for the book and edit in line with that.

If your writing voice is conversational and friendly but your editor makes edits with a formal voice, your book won’t be cohesive. So explain your writing style to be sure they will edit with that in mind.

If your editor passes those three tests, you can move on to step two.

Communicate Clear Expectations

Any successful working relationship requires clear expectations up front, and it’s no different with the author-editor relationship. So for your sake, please be clear about your book’s word count, the editing deadline, and how much and when you’ll pay.

Get them to agree to all of that on paper or digitally before hiring them. This way the guidelines are clear and it’s harder for them to make excuses, which ensures a better performance.

An editor who knows what to do and when to do it will always be more successful than one who is in the dark.

That’s why it can also help to give the editor context. Explaining the reasoning behind the deadline—like you scheduled studio time to record the audiobook—creates urgency that your deadline can’t be pushed back under any circumstances. It also allows them to make positive inferences instead of guessing.

Set Editing Deadlines

The absolute last thing you want to do is to make little tweaks here and there on your manuscript, then look at a calendar and realize you’ve let this drag on for six months. Because keep in mind that no book is perfect, and if you chase perfection then you might not ever hit publish.

So give yourself a set amount of days to edit the book. My editing process is always locked in at two or three weeks—depending on the size of my book.

Days 1-4: Editor makes content changes (big ideas, chapter organization, transitions).

Days 5-7: Author accepts or rejects content changes.

Days 8-11: Editor makes copy changes (word choice and grammar).

Days 12-13: Author accepts or rejects copy changes.

Day 14: Editor and author do one final read through.

If your book is bigger, the steps would look the same but just have longer windows for the editor and author.

As I previously mentioned, protect yourself by getting the editor to confirm they can do this.

I’ve found that the little extra time spent on hiring the right editor is time well spent compared to entering crisis mode with a dysfunctional editor.

If you just follow the three steps above, you shouldn’t face any issues.

Is it easy or difficulty for you to find an editor? Comment below if you have any other questions about this topic.

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