So your manuscript is finally done? Or maybe you have written the first few chapters and need some help with the rest? What you need is an editor. When you are ready to contact one, here are some things to consider before (and after) you send your precious “baby” off into the world.
Before You Send Your Manuscript to Your Editor
Get a sample edit. Before you commit to a long-term relationship with your editor, try a short date. Many editors, including myself, offer or even require a small sample edit. Although this step might be skipped for a developmental edit, it is very valuable for a book about to undergo substantive editing or copyediting. This gives both parties a chance to see what they are getting into before jumping in feet first. You’ll see if the editor’s style fits with your style. Your editor will get a better idea of what your manuscript is about and how much work it needs.
Get a quote. Again, know what you are getting into. Are you getting an hourly rate, a per page rate, or a flat project fee? Different editors charge different rates and may even use a different rate scale for each project. It is important to know where you stand before you commit. This way, neither you nor your editor gets a nasty surprise when the bill comes due.
Get it in writing. Your editor will likely send you a contract to sign, and this protects both of you. Read it carefully and discuss any problems with your editor.
Discuss the big questions. Answer any questions your editor has, and don’t be afraid to ask your own. These questions may include ones about the editing process, the editing schedule, and your goals for the book.
Have all of your ducks in a row. Check your files, and make sure everything is complete. Also, make sure you send the latest version of your manuscript in a format that your editor can read.
After Your Manuscript Has Gone to Your Editor
Wait patiently. Do not give into the urge to read and revise your manuscript while your editor is doing the same. Asking your editor to use your new, revised version after she or he has likely spent hours editing your first version is likely to cause confusion at the least and a breach of contract at the worst.
Follow up. If it’s been longer than your editor said it would or if you have questions, feel free to call or send off a polite email. However, contacting your editor frequently before the deadline just to check up will only be a distraction.
Give thanks. If your editor did a great job, let them know! Offer to write a quote of recommendation for their web page. Be sure to tell your friends about your spiffy new friend. Finally, be sure to call said editor for your next project.
Bonus Step from My Editor Friends on Facebook
Read your manuscript or have a friend (or three) read it. Reading your manuscript with fresh eyes, reading it aloud, or having some friends beta read it can be essential! Together, you can catch a lot of glaring errors and get some very valuable feedback.
What other steps do you take on the road to getting your manuscript polished and ready to publish?