One of the disadvantages of self-publishing a novel is having to find an editor. While a traditional publisher will typically deal with this aspect for you in-house, going the DIY route involves sourcing such professionals yourself. It only takes a quick Google search for the phrase such as ‘fiction editing’ to discover that there is no shortage of providers of these services, so it can be a daunting task trying to pick one for your precious first novel. So, where to start? Well, these tips should be all you need to make the right choice.

  1. Take your time

    The first thing to do is take a deep breath and don’t panic! Don’t rush into making a decision, don’t go with the first person you find online, and most importantly of all, don’t just go for the cheapest option you come across. You spent a long time writing your first novel (hopefully!), so do your book justice and spend a bit of time researching online.

  2. Use online directories

    As I’ve already mentioned, searching online for an editor can be overwhelming at first. The internet is seemingly awash with editors eager and willing to help you with your novel, and the temptation may be to trawl through the search results one by one, emailing or calling each editor and getting a few quotes. A more effective strategy would be to try a few directories such as the SfEP directory, EFA directory and Find a Proofreader, as these allow you to drill down to specific requirements by using keywords. Find a Proofreader has the added advantage of its Get a Quote page, enabling you to get quotes from numerous professionals in one hit.

  3. Check reviews

    When sourcing a service provider, one of the great advantages of the digital age is the availability of online reviews. in advertising, nothing beats word of mouth, and testimonials are another form of just that. While any editor will be able to talk up their skills when you contact them, not all will be able to back up their claims with bona fide customer reviews. When you contact a prospective editor of your novel, look for testimonials on their website, on their LinkedIn profile, on their Google page, on directories, etc. If an editor can’t point to you any reviews at all, approach with caution, and if you do find reviews from other authors, look their books up on Amazon – which leads me on nicely to tip 4…

  4. Look in other books

    I’ve sung the praises of testimonials and customer reviews above, but it’s not always enough on its own. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I would highly recommend you check out other novels that the prospective editor has worked on. If you type their name into Amazon, this will often bring up books by that editor (provided they’ve been credited by the author when the book was added). Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ feature allows you to read a few pages of most books for free, as long as there’s a digital version of the book available, so this is a great way to check an editor’s work. Of course, there is always a danger with self-published books that the author has ignored their editor’s suggestions, so bear that in mind as well!

  5. Ask for sample edits

    When buying a car, it’s always wise to take it for a test drive first, and the same logic applies when finding an editor for your book. The beauty of finding an editor as opposed to, say, a plumber, is that it’s feasible to get a sample first before you commit, so don’t be afraid to ask for a sample edit. Some editors will provide this for free, others will charge – but even if you shell out a few pounds to several different editors, it’ll be a lot cheaper than taking a chance and agreeing to invest in a particular editor for the whole project. Just think how annoyed you’ll be if you realise afterwards that you didn’t pick the right editor for your book.