Learn how to become a Good Editor


You were a language major in college. An individual has read lots of books, therefore you know good writing by bad. You get rankled after you find typos in guides, and you are certain you could do a better job regarding editing and proofreading as compared to most people out there.

You know what any split infinitive is; you are aware of the conditional tense, and also you would never, ever, under any circumstances enable a pronoun not to go along with a subject in a sentence. To put it briefly, you believe you have all the expertise necessary to be a phenomenal publication editor.

You may well have the technical skills necessary, but knowledge of grammar and also punctuation is not sufficient if you would like to be a good editor. Mental intelligence and true determination are required if an editor is always to succeed.

Over the years, I’ve heard some true horror stories from authors about editors they’ve worked with, and also from editors about authors. Most of these boil down to not the editor’s skills or ability to do his or her job, but to personality conflicts. Following are some tips for editors to help them have good relationships with their author clients.

Giving Price Quotes and Editing Samples

A good editor will know how much to charge, certainly not by setting one selling price for all books, or inflating prices, but simply by reviewing the manuscript, editing a couple of pages, and basing a proposal on how much time it will take to be able to edit the book.

An editor may edit 1, 000 words of a manuscript, discover it took fifteen minutes to do, and then figure he can do 4, 000 words an hour, so for a 60, 000-word manuscript, it will take approximately fifteen hours to edit. A price can then be derived based upon what the editor wants to charge per hour and whether a second or third edit, which will take less time than the first, will also be required.

A good editor will give a price quote, say $1, 000 for editing a specific manuscript, and then stick to that price. Occasionally, the editor might find the book is not as much work as was expected, but after some practice, editors will usually manage to do a pretty accurate calculation. If the editor ends up adding a few hours more than was predicted, a good editor will also keep to the price quoted rather than scare the author by asking for more income midway through.

Authors may want to pay by the hour since they become frightened by what the purchase price will end up being, and they also need to know ahead of time so they can budget. A good editor will calm those fears by sticking to his word (the estimate).

An editing sample, besides setting a price, also allows an author to have a sample of the editor’s work so he can see what kinds of changes typically the editor will make to the manuscript so it is clear what kind of job will be done. The cropping and editing sample ensures that the author is simply not surprised later by what ended up being or wasn’t done to typically the manuscript by the editor.

A fantastic editor will be upfront while using the author at the start about the price tag and what the expectations of the manuscript will be.

Badmouthing Various other Editors

I know many authors who have taken over working on some sort of book from another editing tool. Several unqualified editors are generally out there-people who start doing business with or without an English degree, along with those who have no previous publishing or editing experience. Many times, these editors not only are not qualified to edit some sort of book, but they don’t have the dedication required.

Editing consists of many silent hours of sitting and working with the text at hand. It requires good organization skills, determination, and quite a bit of stamina. Sadly, not every would-be editor is up to the task.

It’s always a good idea for an author to have a separate editor and proofreader. Unfortunately, the proofreader who receives a book edited by one of these unqualified authors ends up having to fix a lot of problems like subject-pronoun issues that were the editor’s task. In these cases, I’ve known content verifiers or second editors who badmouth the first editor. Such behavior is unprofessional and unnecessary.

The actual proofreader or second editor’s job is to make the manuscript as error-free as you can, regardless of what the previous editor do. If need be, charge more for your work, but rather than badmouth someone else, let your work talk for itself. Send tom back the manuscript together with the corrections and let him find for himself what you modified and why.

I have well-known editors who have gotten into name-calling wars collectively and trapped the author in the center. I’ve also known editors as well as proofreaders who behave expertly by never saying a poor word about the previous publisher; instead, they simply fixed up the actual manuscript. The author will spot the improvements, and next time should go to the second editor very first while not using the first publisher again. I’ve known this case to happen repeatedly, and the skilled editor only benefits using exhibiting professionalism in such cases.

Simply speaking, “If you have nothing wonderful to say, don’t say something more, ” is a good rule to go by when it comes to an editor as well as a proofreader looking at another editor’s work.

Having a Positive Approach

However, “If you have almost nothing nice to say, don’t declare anything at all” doesn’t apply when it comes to communicating with McDougal about his work. An excellent editor not only will correct errors, but especially in concerns of content and improvement, explain to the author where the publication is lacking, not to make a complaint or judge, but with the particular intent to help the author increase the book.

The most important skill for the editor to have, short of an excellent command of English vocabulary, is a positive attitude. Editing and enhancing can be laborious, and at moments frustrating work, but an editor tool need not take his or her aggravations out on the author. Granted, tom might be lazy or an undesirable writer, but that is why he/she hired you. If all people were as skilled a new writer as you are, no one would desire an editor and would certainly be out of work. Being grateful to do the job you were hired to accomplish.

I have known editors who also write snide comments inside the manuscript, and worse, acquire so frustrated they give up halfway through editing the particular book. There may be cases just where an author cannot improve, and even the best editor can only do so much, but a good editor will be willing to do a little more to create a readable and passable book. Taking out your frustration on the author, even if for his or her faults, serves no one.

Rewriting and Ghostwriting

A good editor is also a writing coach. No two clients are the same, and the editor needs to realize that and show some emotional intelligence about how best to ensure that the author and analyzes the particular author’s skills and individuality. Some editors may be able to discipline an author by increasing the book. Other publishers might end up just using ghostwriting of sentences, transitional sentences, or inside extreme cases, even complete chapters, for the author. If you factor such work into the project upfront, the editor can help improve the book immensely by offering the skills the author does not have.

While authors who want to be writers may be willing to make changes and be more sensitive about changes an editor makes, many people just want to write books to promote an idea or to help their careers; they may not have the skills or the time to devote to rewriting and making a book. In those circumstances, the editor may need to do a little rewriting or ghostwriting for the author.

While at times, this sort of work can be frustrating for any editor, if the editor got a good look at the manuscript at the beginning, he will have factored in a little while for such work straight into his price quote. Above that, it’s best to remember that “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well” is a good policy to have when an editor. An editor’s name is usually printed on the book cover, jacket, or copyright page, so an editor wants the book to be a good advertisement for his services; a little extra time and effort where needed can pay off in the end with future clients.

Communicating and Meeting Deadlines

I’ve heard many horror stories from authors who send their manuscripts to an editor, then do not hear from the editor for weeks, and the editor doesn’t return names or emails. Of course, issues can occur. The editor’s new mother may unexpectedly die plus the editor has to have a week or two off to cope with the funeral and also other family issues. But in this sort of case, the editor really should be responsible enough to call up the author or send what they have got explaining the situation.

A good editing tool will communicate with the author over the editing process. Even merely a friendly email every week to say, “I’m up to phase four, ” or “Things are going well and I need to be done next Thursday” is enough. Most editors are also likely to have questions for the publisher as they work through the manuscript. Besides clarifying things, these kinds of questions provide the author a feeling that the editor is not only focusing on the book but cares about the work and is interested in enhancing it. Communicating with the author is key to keeping a good romantic relationship with the author and making a quality book.

If You Want to Become an Editor…

If you want to become an editor, I hope I have offered some important things that you should think about. Be honest and straight up with your pricing, go any additional step to help the author, preserve a positive attitude, and keep interaction open. Then you’ll have all the skill sets, beyond the basics of mending grammar and punctuation, so you are not only a superb editor but a successful business person whose knowledge will be in high demand.

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