What to look for in an editor?

I haven’t seen any thread about this topic yet, but what to look for when you’re searching for an editor?

I’m not sure what you’re asking. Could you please edit your question? I think some words are missing.

Also, the title of the thread seems to be asking for editing tips, but your question seems to be asking what to look for in an editor before engaging one. Could you please clarify?

What about now?

Much better.

I am an editor … So this might be biased.

If they write their own work, something they say is polished should be relatively free from grammatically errors.

If you’re looking for more than grammar and line edits, you need to get recommendations. Some editors excel at dialogue, while others are great at tightening plot lines or helping with action.

Also, what’s their education? If you are hiring through Wattpad, what groups are the l they involved with and how have past assignments gone?

  1. Know the different types of editing and what they mean - developmental, line, copy, proofreading.

  2. Understand what your manuscript needs.

  3. Do your research. Cheap does NOT mean good. Understand the range of rates for each type of editing and budget accordingly.

  4. Ask for recommendations from other authors. Most editors offer a free sample, use that to see if you are a good fit.

  5. Most editors will sign a contract with you specifying the type of editing to be done and the time frames. A few weeks is normal. Months or YEARS is not.


Another question I have here, how long does an editor usally complete on their assignment before the book is ready?

1 Like

That totally depends on the type of editing. I’ve had developmental edits where the editor needed a month as a minimum. My proofreader turns a manuscript around in a week. Time frame is something you discuss prior to contracting with an editor.

You also need to factor in your time in working through the editorial suggestions and depending on the types of editors you engage, time keeps adding up. For example I have a project that I engaged a dev editor in November last year. I got the editorial letter back prior to Xmas and I’m about to start the re-write. That will take me at least a month. Then the manuscript will still need line edits and a proofread. I’d factor in at least another month for those two, possibly two months if I want to add in extra time in case life happens to me or the editor. All up from dev edit through to final proof read polish (on that project) might take as long as 6 months.

Just a note of clarification: Editors don’t make a book ready. They don’t do the heavy lifting.

Editors mark up a manuscript and make suggestions. It is up to the writer to determine which to accept, which not to accept, and (in the case of developmental edits) how to implement.


As for time, it also depends on the condition of the manuscript to begin with.

An ms that needs a lot of work will take much longer than one that only needs minimal work.

1 Like

Important point. There seems to be a lot of expectation that by handing a book over to “an editor”, these people will magic it into shape.
Well, if you have done all the “heavy lifting”, then a proofreader might indeed give it hte final shine. Still, the author should be the very last one to walk through the novel and switch out the lights before publishing.

If we are talking copy- or development editor, then - especially for the latter - a lot of work might ensue. I just spent three months turning around the novel based on the editorial feedback.
Now, it goes back.
Which means more feedback, probably less extensive and more specific.
The timing depends ont he state the novel is in and what one feels is needed to get it where it should be. I just re-wrote at least 50%.
It’s all very subjective. Editors are “coaches” that help us with our novels. We are the blue collar workers who have to built them


to me, editors are like refiners. like a writer makes the sculpture and editors simply go in and sharpen the edges, yk?
editors are important, though.
relying solely on an editor is definitely something writers should avoid, i — as an editor in my own school — feel like such an immense pressure is put on the editor to make everything a grand piece of art when sometimes — it’s not possible alone.

1 Like

Not quite I would say. The editor (unless you’re talking proof-reader and, to a lesser extent, copy-editor) does not sharpen things. They tell you what is wrong with your work and give you general tips on what you might do. Example - replace telling by showing. You then do the work.
However, successful authors often have editorial teams and they all work together.