I hate having to turn down editorial work for projects that really interest me. I’m lucky in that I only tend to work on projects I think will be interesting, but sometimes something comes along that makes me bite my knuckles and wail ‘NooOOooOOOoo!’
The reason I end up turning the project down? A full editorial calendar and because the author wants the edit started ‘immediately’.
Now, people … you’re just NOT going to get ‘immediately’.
It’s not going to happen unless you’ve hit the golden hour when I’ve just finished a project and either my next one has had a schedule slide or I have nothing booked in. And even then you’re more likely to get a copywriting job accepted than a copyediting job because of the timescales involved.
It’s a sad fact of life. As an independent editorial consultant I have to book work in to a schedule that allows me a steady stream of work.
And it’s not just me. Every professional copyeditor you approach will have work booked in, often months in advance, so if you want to work with them you will have to plan ahead.
So what’s the best way to ensure you get to work with the editor of your choice?
Certainly don’t expect to finish your novel or non-fiction tome and hand it straight over to an editor. Here’s what to do to respect your work and bag your editor:
- Write as well as you can.
Don’t take shortcuts and think that your editor will do it for you. Sure, we *could* do it for you, but only if you have a bottomless supply of cash. Think about it … if your writing is raw and needs a lot of work you’ll have to hire an editor (or editors) for an extended period of time that’ll work out very expensive. Of course, cost is a personal thing – what one person thinks is expensive, another may find reasonable or cheap – but why distance yourself from your work by getting someone else to do what you can do yourself?
- Finish your project
We can’t take on work that isn’t finished.
There’s no point in approaching an editor, hiring them, then sending emails saying ‘I’ve made a small amendment’ or ‘can you just replace this section’ or ‘I’ve reread and I don’t like these sentences, please change’ etc. etc. etc. Finish your work and stop the damn tweaking. Just stop. A writer is never, ever happy as there are always things that could be changed (I’m saying this as a writer, people). So make sure you’ve finished your project and that you’re happy with it. Make the tweaks before you send it to an editor.
- Clean up your project
Once it’s finished, go though one last time and give it another spell check, get your document ready for your editor and make sure you know what to expect from the edit. Visit my free resources page to download some PDFs that will help you get ready.
- Send the whole manuscript
This is one of the things I know worries a lot of people. Don’t let it worry you: an editor will never steal your work. But please send your manuscript as a Word document, with no watermark, and not a pile of papers!
Once you’ve decided which editor to approach you’ll need to let them see your document. There are reasons we need to see the whole manuscript:
- To give you a quote. The beginning and the end of any manuscript is likely to be better than the middle, so we like to see the whole thing.
- To understand what the book is about, and allow us to see if we’re the editor for you. It may be that after seeing your document an editor will decide that you need a specialist in another area. For example, I read fantasy and sci-fi, but rarely edit the genre. As a writer you can become blind to aspects of the work – an editor will instinctively know if the subject matter requires another editor.
- To make sure the book is ready to edit. With the best will in the world, sometimes an author needs a gentle nudge towards a re-write or another revision.
- To work on it. Don’t try to send the work chapter by chapter. This isn’t how we work. Every editor has their own way of working, but it usually relies on having the full, finished manuscript to work on. I tend to give the manuscript a couple of ‘passes’ first to clean up the mechanical aspects of editing, then I start on the nitty gritty and work through the edit – doing this chapter-by-chapter is counterintuitive.
- Talk schedules
Once you’ve approached, or decided to approach, an editor who works on your subject matter or genre you have to think about schedules – yours and theirs.
Forget ‘immediately’ and think about what’s best for your book. Are you willing to go with a less qualified editor who has no work booked in but who can start ‘now’, or wait until your editor of choice is free?
Understandably you’re on a high and want your book to hit the market, but soonest isn’t always best.
Here’s what you can be doing while you wait, and let’s admit it, a couple of months will fly by!
- Set up your author’s website. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a top publisher marketing for you, the chances are you’ll need an internet presence. Find that domain name and get yourself a little website to let people find you.
- Set up a marketing plan. Boring – perhaps. Essential – definitely. Whether you’re self-publishing or going with a small press, you’ll need a marketing plan. Figure out how your readers are going to find you. Where do they hang out? How can you get your name out there? A good marketing plan will help you to sell your book.
- Get yourself on social media. Get out there. Build up the hype. Get known.
Once your book is edited its journey is only just beginning. Why not get active and sort your marketing out while you’re waiting for an editorial slot?
So forget the rush to get things done as soon as possible. Get yourself a strategy, get yourself an editor and talk to them. Work out a plan and stop being so damned hurried. Your project will thank you for it.
If you fancy working with me email email@example.com and we can talk through your project.