When you’re trying to find a book editor or proofreader, it’s always nice to know if the candidate is a good one for you. One thing that can help is knowing what other books that person has worked on. If you don’t know about the editor, it’s like hiring an artist or contractor without having any idea whatsoever of the kind of work that person does.
Editor with experience
Does a person have to have experience in order to be worth hiring? I’d say they need to have some, or if they’re just starting out, they at least need to have a degree in writing or a related field. A degree in English would lend skills in grammar, punctuation, and syntax, and that would be good for a proofreader. If your writing needs any kind of editing, however, having someone who has a degree in English may not be much help, unless they are an avid reader and have a good feel for how a book should be.
Experience working for a publisher of some kind is helpful, but not required. Some freelancers have worked for publishers, but many have not and are still good.
Find a book editor who fits you
Find a book editor who fits your personality and makes you as comfortable as possible with the process. A bad fit usually means a nightmare experience for authors, and the process is scary enough without that. Ask plenty of questions, not just about their experience and technical skills, but also about their style of interacting with clients. An editor who is harsh and abrupt may be technically gifted, but if your ego is damaged by the editor’s delivery, then that manuscript may be the last thing you ever write.
It’s important to find a book editor who fits your needs, and a delivery style you can live with is just as important as their knowledge of grammar and flow.
Some writers need a lot of hand-holding; others just want the facts and need help with the technical aspects. Anyone who isn’t willing to answer all of your questions in a patient and sympathetic manner probably isn’t going to be the right fit for you. May you find exactly what you need.
Books edited by Jennifer Harshman
Several of the books I edited involved a nondisclosure agreement, which means I can’t tell anyone that I was the editor (or a contributing editor) for those books. Some of the manuscripts I edited never experienced publication due to decisions made by the authors. Some were published internally or privately, and there’s no link to them online. Here is a list of the others I’ve edited or proofread.
Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite Nonfiction; strategic planning for business
Surviving the Flier Historical fiction based on a true story
Blue Sky Days Young Adult romance novel
The Gluten-Free Way: My Way Nonfiction; health and wellness, lifestyle
Crystal Unicorns Horror novel
Offering the Lamb Nonfiction; Orthodox Christianity
As You Wish Young Adult/Christian Romance novel
What do you think you need in an editor? Share in the comments.