C-Suite Advisory

Interviewing a Potential Editor for Your eBook

If you think you can produce a good ebook without engaging the services of an editor, you’re sorely mistaken. Giving your work over to a professional wordsmith is like taking your car in for polishing.

Regardless of how good it looks beforehand, it’s going to be much nicer afterward. Further, trying to edit your own work is an exercise in futility. Your brain will make you see words that aren’t there because it knows they should be. With these factors in mind, here’s what you should be concerned about when you’re interviewing a potential editor for your ebook.

Skill Set

Editors come with a wide variety of skills, some of which you may, or may not need. Some help you with structure and flow. Others rewrite the work to ensure consistency of voice and the fluidity of prose.

Still others specialize in fixing spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and syntax issues. Yet another type of editor focuses solely on ensuring the work adheres to a specific style manual. (Speaking of which, most books adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style.)  If you can only afford to hire one person to edit your book, look for someone with a combination of the first two skills, keeping in mind you’ll also need to hire a proofreader later in the game.

Previous Experience

Ideally, you’ll find someone who has worked in your genre in the past and has a working understanding of your subject matter. You should also know editing a book is different from working on other types of printed works.

Request copies of books they’ve edited in the past and examine them for style and flow. Ask about their role in the project, what services they provided, how long it took and how your book would compare.

Budget/Time Frame

Odds are, you’ll have a deadline you’re trying to make to sell ebooks online. You need to know how many other projects the editor is currently working on, how much they charge and whether or not they can get your book done in the amount of time you have. Keep in mind; most good editors are likely to be booked several weeks into the future, so your book will be slipping into a queue to wait its turn. Additionally, the edit process requires numerous passes. It’s not a go over it once and be done with it situation. Asking for a week’s turnaround is generally unreasonable. You’ll also need to know if they can work within your budget. It’s best to be upfront about what you can afford to pay and let the person tell you if they can accomplish what needs to be done for that amount.

A Trial Edit

Most editors will agree to perform a trial edit of a small portion of your book. This gives them a chance to gauge how much effort will be required on your behalf.  Plus, it gives you an opportunity to see if you’ll like this editor’s work and whether or not you’ll enjoy working with them. If they won’t agree to a trial edit, look for another person with whom to collaborate.

Interviewing a potential editor for your ebook with consideration of these four points will help you find someone who’ll leave your work in far better shape than they found it. One of the most important aspects of publishing, the editor’s role cannot be overstated. It’s more than a good idea; it’s an absolute must. When you find someone with whom you have synergy, the results can be magical. Take your time and do it right.

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Jessica Todd Swift
Jessica Todd Swift is the deputy managing editor of the CEOWORLD magazine. She is a veteran business and tech blogger, journalist, and analyst. Jessica is responsible for overseeing newsroom assignments and publishing and providing support to the editor in chief.