The Anxious Author

3 Things to Look for in a Good Editor – The Anxious Author

This is the time of year a lot of new novelists hit the same hurdle. In the new year, we all think about what we want to do to better our lives and for many, writing a book is the answer. By May time, with a draft or two scribbled down, new authors start looking for advice as to how to publish or self-publish their books. Their questions are often answered by the same statement: find an editor.

It’s a big ask if you’re not yet surrounded by author friends and well integrated into a writing community. Where do editors live and how do we find them? The problem is, the first editors to appear out of the word-work aren’t necessarily the best you can ask for your book.

Self-publishing is an industry that isn’t very regulated at all, so it’s easy for scammers to do their thing when they stumble across a new author. For those of us who aren’t sure what a good editor looks like, here are a few things to look for in a good editor:

A good/neutral reputation

The first thing to do when you start talks with a service provider is to look up the reviews. You’d do it for a book, legal professionals etc. Typing their name into a search engine is the best way to figure out whether you’re about to enter into a professional relationship or a nightmare.

Indie authors are very vocal when they are screwed over. If an editor is involved in any funny business, it won’t be difficult to find some red flags. Do some Googling and make sure you aren’t about to fall prey to someone who will cut-and-run with your money and/or manuscript.

A prompt response

We get it, people are busy. Especially the self-employed and freelancers who haven’t the resources to hire a PA just yet. But when you are sending out e-mails to potential editors asking for more information, how quickly they respond is telling.

A response within 24 hours is a great indicator that not only is your chosen editor well organised but they have time for you right now. An editor who takes days to respond isn’t necessarily a bad editor or poorly organised but it might suggest that they are currently very busy.

If you’ve promised your audience a spectacular release day, you want your book polished and ready to go on time. We know full well that the more we have going on in our lives, the more that can slip through the cracks. Of course editors take holidays too, so weigh up all you know about your preferred editor before you discount them on the basis of a late reply.


This sort of goes for life, doesn’t it? If you’re paying someone to do something for you and they don’t have a positive attitude about it, you’d think twice, right? Maybe with the exception of funeral homes. That’s just weird.

Editors don’t have to jump for joy to work with you, that’s also pretty weird. But if they don’t have some basic enthusiasm for the prospect of a new, professional relationship, then something’s up. Maybe they can’t find the love in their job anymore. Maybe they’re more concerned with the money they’re about to receive from you. A good, trustworthy editor will have some level of enthusiasm for your new partnership.

While I don’t want to implant any fears about editors stealing work or running away with payment before a job is complete, it’s always a possibility. Notice the red flags, listen to your gut and don’t take any chances. Be forgiving when it’s sensible. This is your money and your manuscript and for those reasons alone, you need to be on your guard.

Thanks for reading!

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