I was recently reminded how utterly painful it can be to find a content editor for a book manuscript.
Fortunately, I wasn’t the one left bleeding on the literary ground after a close encounter of “the content editor kind.” Unfortunately, one of my clients was.
Before finding Innovative Editing, he went through not one but two different so-called editors who, I believe, he paid a total of $800 to. Yet after each one, he couldn’t help but notice a number of mistakes.
So he went looking for a third editor to proofread his book manuscript.
That third one – Innovative Editing – found:
2 proofreading mistakes in the dedication
3 proofreading mistakes in the table of contents
7 proofreading mistakes on page 1
4 proofreading mistakes on page 2
6 proofreading mistakes on page 3.
Now, it's true that you’re not going to find a content editor who can catch every single editorial or proofreading mistake in a book manuscript. However, seven glaring errors on one page is bewilderingly unacceptable.
So is six.
Even two is seriously pushing it, particularly when they’re on a page that contains less than 50 words.
That right there is why it can be so utterly painful to find a content editor for a book manuscript. It’s because there are too many people out there who call themselves professionals because they are – professional scam artists.
Or perhaps they’re utterly full of their own editorial opinion to the point where they change your characters’ names and tell you it’s for your own good.
There’s also the possibility that they charge you an exorbitant amount of money when you could have paid half that amount. Maybe even a third.
According to an older article on The Creative Penn, “Finding an editor is a bit like dating – you have to try a number before you find someone who is the best match.”
I can see the truth in that. So let’s take the analogy one step further by acknowledging how you don’t want to find just any editor anymore than you want to date just any person.
Otherwise, you’re going to get hurt, get taken advantage of or otherwise waste your precious time.
To avoid all three, here’s how to find a content editor who’s worth taking out to dinner:
Don’t just take the reviews posted on their website for gospel truth. Those reviews could be completely made up. Or they could be aberrations.
If they ask for the full payment upfront before they start working on your story, run. Don’t walk. Run far, far away from them. You can find a content editor easily enough who will ask for 50% upfront and the other 50% upon completion. That’s typically acceptable. But don’t trust anyone who wants the full payment right away.
Ask if you can get a sample of their editing before you sign on with them. Typically, this is going to be in the form of you submitting a few pages to them and then seeing how they handle it. Most worthwhile content editors of the freelance variety will happily oblige you in this. It’s just part and parcel of doing honest business in this line of work.
None of those precautions can guarantee you’ll meet your dream editor and live happily ever after. But they should protect you against being ripped off repeatedly like my poor new client was.