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Do You Need an Editor? (Part 4)

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Last week, we discussed editorial titles. As in what kinds of editors are out there and what they do.

To read about it, you can click here.

And to start this series right from the beginning, click here.

If you’ve tuned in every time though, you probably remember what I said about avoiding ridiculously cheap editors. By that, I mean those that charge under $20 per hour.

Ninety-nine times out of 100, that rate means they just don’t care about your copy. People who don’t value themselves or their services enough are bound to devalue anyone purchasing those services as well.

With that said, don’t think your quality goes up with every extra dollar you pay. Because that ain’t true either, my writing friend. There are plenty of editors out there who charge $50 an hour and will rip you off with the same nonchalance they’d exhibit as swatting down a fly.

This kind of editor might not even be an all-around scam artist. He might offer legitimate services to other, more influential or affluential individuals. But he will try to prey on anyone he perceives as weak, a category that does include writers who don’t know what to look out for.

So how do you spot the wrong editor?

Well, don’t expect a nice website to automatically mean its owner is trustworthy. I’ve seen some pretty professional-looking layouts complete with impressive customer reviews… that end up being nothing more than spiderwebs designed to trap brand-new butterflies trying out their pretty, delicate wings.

Fortunately, there’s a way to almost always protect yourself from that kind of outright and intentional predatory individual. Always – and I do mean always – ask for a free editing sample by having the person in question look over a few pages of your manuscript.

Scam artists are much, much more likely to say no. That’s a waste of their time.

It’s not a waste of a worthwhile editor’s time though. They’re not going to bend over backward for you. They have their dignity, after all. But they genuinely want you to have your dignity as well, including editorial assistance that will get you where you want to be.

If that doesn’t mean them, they’ll wish you the best before sending you on your way… even after you used up a half-hour of their busy day without compensating them for it. And if you do go with them, then they will happily bill you for the best editorial job they can give.

For the record, one other reason to ask for a free edit is to make sure that you like their editing style. You want to find the right match for your story and your vision for your book.

Just because an editor is good doesn’t mean that they’re best for you

Speaking of best editorial jobs, I’m going to offer one more piece of cautionary advice in this regard…

Make sure your editor understands that, ultimately, you’re in charge of your own manuscript. Editors are there to make suggestions – and hopefully very insightful, educated suggestions. But they’re

  1. Not infallible

  2. Not the one who put months and month, or years and years, of hard work into theorizing and actualizing your story.

You’re not infallible either, admittedly. But you did put all that work in. You are the owner of that work.

Therefore, once again, if you find that, during the exploration phase of finding an editor, someone is coming across as a know-it-all – he or she who must be obeyed – ditch them. They might have decades of experience…

But that doesn’t mean they know precisely what you’re trying to convey with what you wrote.

That doesn’t mean they’re onboard with the message or theme or presentation.

That doesn’t mean they’re not prone to missing something here or making a mistake there.

Avoid anyone who seems to think otherwise.

Editor’s Note: Read the next post on "Do You Need an Editor" here.

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