Editors. Whew. Do I have thoughts on editors. I’ll sum up by saying it’s not just a google search and a phone call. They’re in business and from what I can see on SM there are alot of them. Competition is fierce.
But on this post let’s talk about how to find one. I was really new to the writing community on Twitter when I decided to bite the bullet and hire an editor for the first time ever. I did exactly like I described in the first paragraph. That’s not the way to do it.
There are too many of them and there are too many individual factors to consider. You may write horror and you may have the opportunity to work with Stephen King’s editor(s) and you may think ‘hell yeah’. Then you may have a call and Stephen King’s editor is a bloviated self aggrandized douche bag (or douchette bag) and you think ‘swallow your pride and deal with it. It’s the chance of a life time.”
Let me say from every life experience I’ve had dealing with that sort of person – no it’s not. If personally you can’t stand the person then you aren’t going to work well together which means whatever you’ve written is going to suffer for that. I guarantee it will end badly and a bridge will be burned that could have been avoided.
Find someone you can work with. Someone who offers advice and criticism in a way that is useful for how you process that kind of information. Find someone who enjoys reading your genre, has some chops behind them, and good references. Call those references. Don’t be afraid to call references even if it’s Stephen King’s editor. Take them through more than one phone interview. Vet them.
Avoid people who do not have your genre listed in their past work. It means it’s not their jam and that’s no fault on them. I read everything but not everything with the same level of enthusiasm. But as I said the editor landscape is crowded and competitive, they’ll convince you and themselves they can enjoy and edit erotica when in fact they blush during Viagra commercials. They can’t. Find someone who can.
That takes Google searches, talking to writer friends, interviewing multiple editors and taking your time. Talk to others who have worked with editors successfully and unsuccessfully. Money is irrelevant. I’ve seen the whole ‘you get what you pay for’ drivel on this topic. Sometimes yes you do. Or sometimes you get what you pay for and aren’t you the sucker? You could end up thousands of dollars out looking around like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction wondering WTF did I just do.
Here’s the biggest thing, you may have to work with a few before you find ‘the one’. I see lots of people talking about dream editors (or agents or jobs). All of that is 1st level talkie talk BS. There’s no ‘dream’ anything. There is the right one and sometimes it clicks immediately or you need to hop around or tweak a relationship to make it work. The dream is in the work.
You have a right to your opinion even in the face of someone with more experience than you. That’s their job to bring experience and insight in order to fine tune your writing. Your job is to listen to them and implement their advice. Like any process you get what you give and that goes both ways. Not everything they say will be useful. That’s ok.
I had an ok experience with my first editor attempt but yes I’m still on the market for the right one. Lesson learned. I’ve taken the good and not so good and come up with a better image of what the right editor will look like for me.
We’re all rushed thinking we have then next great novel of our genre. We may. But I guarantee the odds you are about to release the next multi-platinum blockbuster are much, much better if you take your time finding the right editor.