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Hiring an Editor

How an Editor Helps a Writer

There are many types of editors. Each will focus on specific aspects of your work. Here are some examples of the different types of editors that a writer may encounter:

  • Copy Editor: This is the person who edits the manuscript material submitted by the author. They will focus on correcting grammatical irregularities and inconsistencies, and looks to correct any punctuation, spelling, usage and style errors.
  • Developmental Editor: Someone who deals with the overall organization of the book’s manuscript. A developmental editor may also address issues of reordering whole sections of text, with the tone and voice, with the addition or deletion of material, and the transitions between paragraphs or chapters of the book.
  • Line Editor: Someone who performs an edit that is heavily focused on voice, tone, and phrasing. This type of edit tends to be much more in-depth. For a work of fiction, line editing considers the work’s pacing, character development, the handling of details, and the vocabulary of the place and period where the novel is set and the naturalness and effectiveness of the dialogue. A line editor also deals with spelling and grammar.
  • Production Editor: The production editor deals with the final aspects of the work as it goes from manuscript form to published material. This type of editor is in charge of typesetting, artwork, and budgeting for the project. The production editor is usually the final person to review a work prior to publishing, therefore, they are in charge of ensuring that quality is met in all areas.
  • Acquisitions Editor: This is the first editor that a manuscript meets after being sent in for review. The acquisitions editor is the person who decides whether a manuscript will be beneficial for the publishing house. This editor is in charge of communicating between the writer and the publisher, for the budgeting, marketing and contracting of the project.

Hiring an editor

  1. Determine your need. Evaluate your work and decide what skills you will need in an editor. By identifying which area you would like your editor to focus on will help you to decide who to hire.
  2. Establish a business plan. This outlines the budget and timeline for editing.
  3. Research. Make a list of possible editors that you may want to work on your project. 
  4. Narrow down your list. Choose only the editors that will best suit your specific needs.
  5. Contact the editors. Generally, editors will outline how they would like to be contacted.
  6. Conduct an interview. When you have made contact, it is time to ask questions. Ask to see samples of their work, and ask how long they have been in the industry, their availability and fees.
  7. Make your choice. Remember that when entering into any business deal it is important to have a written contract drawn up. Your contract with your editor should outline a timeline and what is expected from each party as well as commission and expenses. A contract is required under the new Arts Professions Act, and will protect both parties involved.

How to find an editor

Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC): This site provides detailed information on what to look for in an editor, freelance template contracts, and lists of editors in all parts of Canada. The association has contacts in Saskatchewan.

What to expect when you hire an editor

  • The editor should have a good basic knowledge of the publishing process. They should understand the various stages of the publishing process and be able to guide a writer through the process. This includes a basic understanding of the design and production process.
  • Understand the importance of the audience and the purpose of your material. The editor is able to work with the author to outline/identify the correct audience for their work as well as the expectations of the material (they should understand why the material was written and what can be expected from specific works).
  • Should know the scope of the project. Between the writer and the editor a business and production plan should be outlined. A good editor will be able to outline the level of editorial intervention required and establish a budget, and timeline for the work.
  • Comfort with the medium. The editor should be comfortable with the medium (electronic books, textbook, novel, etc…) in which they are working with and what general form they should take.
  • Knowledge of legal and ethical requirements. An editor is expected to understand and know the legal and ethical requirements of the publishing industry and can help a writer to navigate through the many processes. They are expected to identify and address any legal or ethical problems that may arise.
  • Appropriate scheduling. An editor should set and maintain a plausible schedule for the publishing of a work.
  • Clearly communicates. There should be clear communication about edits so that they are properly applied and captured in the production process.

The cost of editorial services varies with each editor. Generally, editors will charge by the page, manuscript or hour.

The difference between a proofreader and editor

A proofreader is different from an editor.

• The editor works on the first draft of the document and continues until the draft is finalized while the proofreader works on the final draft of the document. 

• Proofreaders address surface-level  issues such as misspellings, grammatical and punctuation errors, inconsistencies, formatting errors, etc., while editors address core features of the writing. 

• Generally, proofreaders make already good writing error-free while an editor improves the overall quality of the writing.

• You may not work directly with the proofreader but there is collaboration between the writer and the editor.

• Proofreaders require a shorter turn-around of time than an editor.

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