Five Dos and Don’ts for Picking an Editor


It used be that editors picked authors. But these days, with self-publishing flourishing, and with an ever-increasing number of authors looking to tweak their manuscripts before sending them off to prospective homes, sometimes it’s the author who is picking the editor. And that can be a tricky thing! I mean, an editor’s work is by nature invisible—if you can spot it, they’re generally doing it wrong. But if not by the evidence of their work, by what should you judge this would-be judge?

Of course, you can’t just judge all editors on the same scale. Editors come in all types and experiences, just like writers. And an editor who is an awesomtastic fit for one author may be an awful fit for you. So really, the important question is how to find an editor who is a good fit for you and your needs. This means finding an editor who has both a strong understanding of what you are trying to achieve and the editorial skills to help you achieve it. And, perhaps most importantly, it also means finding an editor who communicates in a way that works for you.

Finding the perfect editor for your book could take a while—but it’s worth it. A good editor is like a book’s best friend: they share the author’s vision and help draw it into even sharper focus—making it the best version of that book it could possibly be. So, to that end, here are a few of the dos and don’ts for how to play matchmaker for your manuscript, and suss out just the right editor to satisfy you both.

DO Ask the Right Questions

It seems self-evident, but making sure you and a prospective editor are on the same page is vital to satisfying edit. Even the term “editing” can hold confusion! I mean, there are many different types of editing, from developmental or story editors who work on things like plot and characters (and the hiring of whom most of this article addresses), to copy editors who focus on things like spelling, grammar, and inconsistencies.* So, it pays nail down your expectations—and those of the editor—before getting in too deep. And that means . . .

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