Who should edit my book?


If you’ve written a book and you intend to get it published this is probably a question you’ve asked yourself. And you may have been going round and round in circles trying to figure it out.

If you’ve hit the jackpot and managed to get a publisher this may be out of your hands as the publisher will likely have a pool of in-house or freelance publishers.

If you intend to self-publish (and many respected authors are taking this route) you will have to find your own editor, and this is where it can get tricky.

With this in mind here are a few pointers for all of you who are having a hard time …

Who should edit your book?

editing proofreading publishing

(c) Nic McPhee Flikr

  1. Someone who’s trained.

While your old English teacher, best friend, co-worker, sibling, parent or dog-walker may do a brilliant job of spotting typos, or the odd misplaced paragraph, they should really be kept within the role of beta reader.


Only a trained editor can do a professional job within a professional framework.

It’s their job.

massive library full of books

  1. Someone who knows the subject.

OK, this one’s a little tricky. An editor doesn’t need a degree in the subject they’re editing, and a general understanding may be enough. But the more in-depth or complicated the subject, the more you should go for a subject specialist.


For example, I don’t have a degree in history, but I’ve worked around historical subjects for nigh on 30 years (I’ve worked in archives, taken courses, I’m a professional genealogist …) so I’m very comfortable around historical subjects. I’ve also studied the arts in a less formal surrounding, so am happy with all sorts of arty things. But you should never, ever hire me to work on a physics or maths book. I would refuse anyway, but you should be aware what subjects the editors you’re looking at are comfortable with.


Approach those you see have some concrete knowledge of your subject area.

Businessman Giving out Card --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

  1. Someone you’re going to be able to work with.

You don’t need to like your editor (although it helps if you do), but you do need to be able to work with them. The editor you choose will be working through your document with a fresh, professional, pair of eyes. They may have to give you some bad news (a section doesn’t work, some things don’t make sense, or point out that perhaps you need to rewrite) and they’re going to ask you questions. You need to be able to talk to your editor. Sometimes it can be a long term relationship and no one likes to be fired, or to do the firing.


Talk to the editor you choose, ask for a sample edit (which may be free or paid for), and pick one that you’ll be able to work with.

friends, trust

  1. Someone you trust.

It goes without saying that you should be able to trust your editor. Here I’d say go with gut instinct (cue shocked noises and dismay among the ‘hard fact’ brigade).

No professional editor will share your work, or steal it, or do anything with it other than edit or proofread it (or whatever else you ask for). But you need to be able to trust your editor to do their best for your work. Even if that means telling you that your book isn’t ready to edit and you need to spend more time on it.


Hire the editor you trust to tell you the truth and do what’s best for you and your book.

 SfEP Conference 2017

  1. Someone who’s a member of a professional society.

While it’s not strictly necessary, if an editor is a member of a professional society it shows that they’re not hobbyists and that they’re serious about their profession. They will have to abide by the society’s code of standards. They will have a network of professionals that they can lean on and where they can keep up with their CPD. They will have (usually) had to prove proficiency in their field.


Hiring an editor who’s a member of a professional society gives you an extra level of trust.


happy writer

If you keep these five points in mind it will make finding an editor easier.


You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned price. Honestly, price is not a factor. Price will come down to many things – size of the book, subject matter, what needs to be done, experience of the editor, timescale etc. Also an editor who seems hugely expensive may be more efficient and knowledgeable and one who seems cheap may be less efficient or charge by the hour and take longer.  Price is the last thing you should think of, and if need be budget and save to get the best editor who fits your needs.


If you’re looking for an editor I specialise in historical fiction and non-fiction, but you can check out my SfEP directory entry to see what else I can do.

If you’re looking for someone else the SfEP directory holds over details of over 700 members.

If you’re looking for an editor outside of the UK these links will help you.


Take your time and choose wisely!


5 Steps To Effective Communication

coffee, notebook, notepad, writing

Let’s get things straight.

Writing is a form of communication.

Your English may be perfect, but if you can’t communicate well, your audience is going to give up pretty quickly

So here are a few quick tips for effective communication:

1. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Before you write anything make sure you’ve made notes. Get everything down in note form and it will focus your mind to the task in hand. This way you won’t miss anything and it will all become clearer to you before you put pen to paper. Clear objectives make for clearer prose.

happy woman

Make it clear, keep them happy

2. Know who your audience is. There’s no point in writing the same thing for a bunch of academics and a load of high school students. Keep the language audience appropriate. If it’s too academic for the reader it will put them off, and you’ll come across as a snob. If it’s too basic, you’ll come across as condescending. Keep your writing at the correct level, and if you don’t know what that is ask around or go look at texts aimed at the same audience.

scared child

don’t make her read your company newsletter

3. Get rid of the jargon. There’s no point in using jargon unless you’re writing for industry professionals, and even then you should try to ditch the jargon. By using jargon you are, right from the beginning, alienating those who aren’t sure what the jargon means.


ditch the jargon

4. Keep things simple. Plain English is brilliant. No one wants to read something that they can’t understand, so get rid of the arsey language and make your writing something that everyone wants to read. If you mean a ‘bin man’, say a bin man and not a household refuse technician. If you mean ‘wages’ say that and not ‘institutional renumeration packages’. It’s easy to keep things simple if you think about what you’re writing.

tightrope man

reading shouldn’t take that much concentration

5. Break it down. If you have a load of stuff to get across your audience, a great way to communicate effectively is to break it down into digestable pieces. There’s no shame in using lists and bullet points. It’s preferable to a whole heap of long paragraphs that become convoluted and lose their way. Break it down for your audience and they’ll thank you for it.


make a list

So, there you go. Five steps to great, effective, simple communication.

If you have any of your own, pop them in the comments.

This blog sponsored by ‘We’re getting puppies and I’m too busy to write a big blog post’.

In association with ‘Orignally written on an ipad, which suddenly deleted the post for no good reason’.

corgi pups cartoon

5 Ways To Communicate Well

good communication

I’ve been away (did you miss me?).

I had a lovely, well-deserved, trip home to meet my new nephew. But as usual the drive south was eventful. Every time I hit the Forth Road Bridge (not literally), once I get over the water, I head down the wrong road. It’s been made worse in recent years due to new roads and roadworks but, honestly, every single time I head south I take a wrong turn. And I’ve been doing it for the last 18 years. You’d think by now I’d have managed to get to grips with it. This time we ended up heading towards Edinburgh city centre.

I don’t have a satnav, so I use road signs to direct me and, to be perfectly frank, the signs towards the south from the Forth Road Bridge are the worst I think I’ve encountered. There’s the M8, M9 and A720 to navigate, but very rarely do the signs direct the driver to The South. This time, for some reason, we ended up heading down the A90 rather than the M9. But hey ho, it only added an extra ten minutes onto a 12 hour drive, so it’s no real problem.

But it did set my work brain tingling.

Communication is the key to everything, without it everyone gets lost.

question marks, lost communication

From crappy road signs to instructions for flat pack furniture and company guidelines, if information isn’t communicated correctly it can cause problems for customers, clients, users and everyone else in-between.

So here are five tips for business communication. Whether you are a small business, a large conglomerate or a sole trader (or in charge of signage somewhere), this stuff is important:

  1. Be Clear.

If the information isn’t clear enough to understand, then the user won’t benefit from your expertise. What is the point in taking time to create documentation if no-one can understand it? Unless your audience is an audience of experts:

              Keep things simple.

              Avoid jargon.

              Use plain language.

  1. Avoid Bad English.

You may have made your documentation easy to understand, but bad English will make your work less credible. To communicate effectively you need to make sure that your English is correct. Check for pesky spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Have your work edited and proofread. Make your writing the best it can be.

  1. Don’t Talk To The Wrong Audience.

When writing you have to make sure that you know your audience. Who exactly are you writing for? Different audiences will have different expectations and subject knowledge. There’s no point going into minute detail when writing about your latest innovation if the readership hasn’t a clue what you are talking about. Pitch your writing at the correct level and communication will be less bothersome.

  1. Don’t Assume Intelligence.

Linked in to knowing your audience, never assume intelligence unless you are writing for a team of experts (and I mean this in the nicest way). Don’t dumb down, but keep in mind that your audience may not have a clue about the subject and is approaching it for the first time. Don’t treat them as idiots, but make things clear to your readership to allow them to digest the information without having to do background reading.

  1. Take Things Step By Step.

If you are writing instructions, be clear and make sure that every single step has been covered. Don’t miss anything out, even if it seems obvious – it won’t be obvious to some people. If you are writing documentation for a product or service, make sure that everything that needs to be covered has been. Check your document to make sure everything is logical and in the right place. By taking it one step at a time your readers are less likely to get lost.

So, there you have five quick tips for effective communication. It isn’t rocket science, but will help you when there is writing to be done. And if you feel like hiring a writer, you can always contact me and check my availability.