Letting an editor you’re unfamiliar with work on your in-process book is like handing over your newborn baby to a total stranger—completely terrifying.
But, like it or not, hiring an editor is an essential part of the publishing process. You can’t skip it. So you might as well choose someone you trust. Let’s find an editor that works for you. The right editor can turn your manuscript into a masterpiece, while the wrong one can have you questioning your entire career.
Even though editors are partners (not bosses) in the creative process, there’s still a lot of anxiety about working with one. Fears of being judged, losing control of the story, and being told you need to rewrite the entire thing are common. But when you find someone who understands your vision, respects your voice, and challenges you to be better, that’s when the magic happens.
That’s when the words on the page come alive.
So, if you’re starting the search for an editor, follow these five steps to find someone you can really trust.
Step #1: Make a Wish List
Before you pop open that new search tab, take a few minutes to think about the ideal person you’d like to work with. Do you prefer tough love or gentle guidance? Someone with tons of experience or someone young and hungry? Are you looking for a mentor or a collaborator?
Make a list of all the specific traits, types of experience, and general attitudes you want in an editor. The more awareness you have about your own preferences and work style, the better equipped you’ll be to identify potential candidates. And don’t forget to consider the practical side of things—your budget, timeline, and project scope. These factors can greatly impact your decision-making when it comes time to take someone on.
Step #2: Ask Your Network
Google is a great tool, but sometimes the best editors are found via word-of-mouth. Ask around within your writing community and see if any fellow authors have someone they recommend. Trust isn’t necessarily something you can validate with a few Yelp reviews. But if someone you know and respect has worked with a particular editor and had a positive experience, that’s an excellent sign.
If you don’t have a network of writers to turn to, utilize online forums or local editor and writer associations to get recommendations. You may find an editor in the member directories of reputable professional editor organizations such as these:
- In the United States:
- In Canada:
- Editors Canada: link
- In the United Kingdom:
- Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading: link
- In Australia and New Zealand:
- Institute of Professional Editors: link
You can also reach out to a writing coach or mentor who may have connections in the industry. Put as many feelers out there as you can—the more options, the better.
Step #3: Pick Your Top Three Choices
Now that you’ve cast a wide net, it’s time to narrow down your options. Pick the top three people you’re most excited to work with based solely on what you see online or have heard from other authors. Scheduling too many consultation calls can be overwhelming, so it’s best to limit yourself to a select few.
Most of the time, you’ll get an immediate sense of whether or not an editor is a good fit for you just by talking to them. Do they seem genuinely interested in your project? Do they ask insightful questions and offer helpful suggestions? Do you feel comfortable with their communication style?
If you answer yes to these questions, then congratulations—you’ve found a potential editor. And if none of your initial three choices seem like a match, you can always go back to your original list and reach out to a few more candidates.
Step #4: Check Their Credentials
Before you get too excited and hand over your manuscript, it’s important to do your homework. Don’t just take a person’s word for it that they’re a superb editor. Double-check their certifications, read prior books they’ve edited, and ask to speak with past clients.
It may seem like overkill, but when it comes to trusting someone with your writing, you can never be too cautious. And if you come across any red flags or inconsistencies, address them directly. It’s always better to clear any doubts before making a commitment.
Step #5: Ask Important Questions
Consultation calls or meetings are an excellent opportunity to ask important questions that will help you determine if an editor is truly trustworthy—and the right fit for you.
A long resume may seem impressive, but working with a newly trained editor well-versed in current publishing trends may have skills that pay dividends. Of course, nothing beats a kind and motivated editor with whom you have a good rapport.
Take your first steps with a face-to-face conversation. In today’s world, a video conference meeting may be your best option.
Some key things to ask include:
- Does your contract include a confidentiality clause?
- What tools do I need to be familiar with to work with you?
- How do you approach revisions and suggestions?
- Do you have a preferred method of communication?
- What’s your turnaround time for projects?
- Why should I trust you to edit my book?
Asking questions that help you understand an editor’s process, expectations, and values can greatly aid in your decision-making. Don’t be afraid to ask about anything that’s important to you, as this will ultimately help you find someone who aligns with your goals and vision for your book.
PDHines: Book Editing You Can Trust
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful author-editor relationship. At PDHines, we understand this and have built our entire editing process around transparency, communication, and mutual respect. We offer a range of editorial services to accommodate different writing styles and budgets, all with transparent pricing, turnaround times, and what kind of edits you can expect.
So why waste time scouring the internet or taking a gamble on an unknown editor? Let PDHines be your trusted partner in bringing your manuscript to life.