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  • Writer's pictureVivi Anne Hunt

Working with a Professional Editor (Behind the Scenes)

Hi, precious peeps.

So let's say you've written a book. And let's say you either don't want to publish it traditionally (like me) or you have been querying but it has failed, so now you are considering self-publishing. The first thing you need to consider is - Do you need an editor?

That is, provided you haven't used one already and you have the budget for it. There's nothing shameful about not having the funds for this, okay? Some people will say - "Oh, you need a professional editor, otherwise your book will just be another one of those poorly written indie books, blah blah." Whatever.

You do what works for you, and let others do what works for them. :)

Now let me share my journey with you...

Why I needed an editor.

Now, let's be honest, not everyone will need an editor, even though I believe every book can benefit from it, and not everyone will need the same type of editor.

There's developmental editing, which is big-picture editing, such as checking for plot and character inconsistencies, etc. Then there's line editing and copyediting, which is editing on the paragraph and sentence level, meaning they check for flow, grammar, errors, etc. And then there's proofreading, which is the final sweep of your manuscript - check for typos, etc.

This is just explaining it roughly. See a better explanation here.

Even if you get some awesome beta readers, who can help with developmental edits, and editing software like ProWritingAid or Grammarly, they can't do what a human can do, which is definitely what happened when I hired my editor.

How did I find him, you ask?

I'm not a native English speaker, which means my sentence structure and punctuation are crap (well, actually, this is just my personal flaw, LOL), so I knew I needed a line editor. I asked on twitter - "Hey, can you recommend someone?"

A bunch of indie authors answered, which was great because I needed someone who worked with authors on a budget. I really can't afford the most expensive editors! I don't remember who recommended B. K. Bass, but I am so grateful they did.

I took all the suggested names, checked out their websites and testimonials, and contacted some of them and asked for sample edits - ask before you hire anyone! Based on the results, I hired the best candidate for the job.

While some editors came to me with minimal changes and not exactly what I was looking for, B. K. Bass came to me with thorough edits and notes on the same day I sent him the excerpt. He was not only super-fast but he communicated very clearly, as well. The added notes were an extra I loved, and he's already edited three of my books, and I love working with him.

Let me show you some examples below...

The edits of my latest book.

What I love about working with B. K. Bass is that he not only edits very carefully, but he also leaves notes in the margin, telling me what I did wrong and how I can fix it next time. This way, I learn to be a better writer/editor myself. It doesn't mean I won't need him -- of course I will -- it just means that I'm learning as well as getting help, which is priceless.

The other thing I really appreciate about B. K. Bass's editing style is that he keeps the tone of the piece. He never suggests heavy-handed edits, only subtle ones that improve the flow and consistency of the piece. He also helps a lot with 'Americanizing' stuff since I don't live in the United States, yet, strangely, I have set my stories there.

(I blame watching all those American movies and shows!)

Finally, make sure you find someone who communicates well. I can't stress this enough. Through the years of working with all kinds of people online, I have found that nothing is more frustrating than hiring someone just to have them disappear on you. Instead, look for someone who communicates clearly, frequently, and if possible, quickly.

That's exactly what B. K. Bass does, and I appreciate it to no end.

Really, I struck gold with the guy. He's already edited three of my books, and I am going to hire him for the next ones as well. If something works, just keep doing it.

Remember that a single editor will not fix *everything* in your book. A developmental editor won't fix all the typos because they are focused on the big picture. A line editor might not catch everything either. That's what the final proofreading sweep is for. I knew this going in, so I knew I would either have to hire someone, ask B. K. Bass to go over it again, or to use software like Grammarly or ProWritingAid. Because I don't have the budget for it, I just use the software and use my eyes -- until they bleed, LOL. No one human will catch all the mistakes, and usually, you'll need multiple editing passes to catch everything.

My personal preference is to give my MS to the editor, have him do his magic, and then fix the rest on my own. If I need to make big changes, I will need more help, but if there are no big changes, I just need to go over everything, carefully, multiple times.

You can find your own editing process, of course. This is just mine.

What to remember.

If you're looking for an editor, just:

  • Choose the type of editing you need.

  • Choose the type of person/editing style you need.

  • Ask for recommendations.

  • Ask for a sample edit.

  • Don't rush; check out a few people before you choose.

  • Hire the person who fits your needs perfectly.

  • Don't forget to proofread after you make all the changes. Sometimes editing will create its own little mistakes, and nobody's perfect.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to B. K. Bass, who made my book so much better than it was originally! If you need an editor, he not only provides what I mentioned, but he does critiques and developmental edits as well.

In the end, just look around and choose whichever person works for you best. It's a process.

What about you? Do you have an editor? How do you like working with one?

Let me know in the comments! And good luck. :)

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