How to Hire an Editor

Note: This post contains some excerpts from the infamous book 5 of my Publishing Gold Series, the one that can’t be published on Amazon. I’m offering a special price on that book since you have to go to Smashwords to get it. Use coupon code: QN34K  and you’ll get it for 99 cents. Coupon is available through June of 2017.

In the Practical Guide to Publishing, I talk about hiring professionals. Let’s specifically talk about editors.

Working with indie authors, I’ve worked with a number of different editors and they are mostly terrible at the job. There is nothing more disheartening than having to edit a book that an author has just spend thousands of dollars having edited “professionally.”

How did this happen?

Set Clear Expectations

Be very clear with the editor up front. Let them know what you expect and when you expect to have it done. I’ve also learned from others that it is best to schedule updates so that you can check on progress.

Spell out exactly what you want the person to do and when you expect to have it done.

Ask for Referrals

Talk with other clients or read reviews their clients have posted. If at all possible, connect up with a real person who has used this person’s services. LinkedIn is wonderful for checking references. Just as people will find you from your web presence and that carefully maintained brand you have created, you should be able to find out about this professional’s quality of work.

A referral from their aunt is not the type of referral you want. You want to talk to someone who has used their services.

Hire a Real Editor

If you were traditionally published, you would likely have several editors working for you. Let’s face it: there is a quality difference that shows when you have a team of professionals working on a project!

As an independent author, you’ll start out doing most of your editing yourself. I have a friend who works with traditionally published authors simply checking the facts in their books. Until you become successful, you will have to check your own facts! You may have to find your own typos, too. (By the way: it is almost impossible to find your own typos. Hiring an editor should be one of your highest priorities.)

[A joke I can’t resist mentioning: while reviewing this post, I found a typo that had made it through numerous spell checks and multiple passes by my editor. There is always at least one that gets through! And yes, I did stop everything and fix it! That’s a blessing of being an independent author!]

The first contractor you should hire is an editor.

Hire Someone Who Believes in You

Be careful if you find yourself working with someone who treats you like you are “not a professional.” My experiences with this type of individual have always ended in disaster. The quality of their work was substandard. Was it because they thought my indie publishing work didn’t matter? I don’t know. Was it that their snobbery was masking their own lack of professionalism? Possibly. If the contractor you choose is not going to treat you with respect, hire someone else.

Your editor can become a key to your process, someone who not only makes your work sparkle, but also helps you stay productive. Once you know that editor has your back, you can work with more confidence. Your editor is an invaluable part of your team.

One word of warning: I’ve noticed a few traditionally published authors are working as editors for indie authors to make extra money on the side. Let’s face it, mid-list traditionally published authors do need to make money to supplement their income. But these are not the people you want editing your books.

Why? Many of them are productive authors. You’ve read their books. The writing is solid and the books are well edited. Why wouldn’t you want that person to do your editing?

Because traditionally published authors have editors to edit their work. The books you’ve read are as well written and edited as they are not because the author is a good editor, but because the editor who edited them is a good editor!

I recently read a post bashing indie authors written by a traditionally published author who does this sort of work on the side. After reading her article (which I do not want new indie authors to have to suffer through), I finally understand why my indies have found such terrible editors.

The author of the post saw indies as hopeless. She edited them with disdain. I am certain that even if she is an excellent editor, she did not do good work for her indie clients.

Editing and writing are different skills.

Pay for Quality

A good editor is going to cost you money. Your book will earn more money if it is well edited. Just as a professional cover will help sales, a professional edit (or three) will encourage your readers to recommend your book.

Starting out, you may not have the money to afford a high quality editor. Raise money. Save money. Barter. Use GoFundMe.

A good editor is worth every penny.

The Books

Publishing Gold consists of 5 volumes.

  1. The Indie Writer’s Philosophy—currently available—this book covers the business mindset that will set a writer up for success.
  2. The Indie Writer’s Presence—currently available—how to create a web presence that helps you find and grow your audience.
  3. The Indie Writer’s Phraseology—currently available—a mini-dictionary for indie writers that explains techniques, tools, and terminology common to the industry.
  4. The Indie Writer’s Power Tools—currently available—a short course in HTML and CSS that sets the writer up for success in blogging and formatting the modern epub. While writers may still choose to hire professional formatting artists, this book will help them avoid common headaches and give them the ability to tackle common issues without fear.
  5. The Indie Writer’s Practical Guide to Publishing—currently available—a step-by-step guide to choosing which distributors to work with and preparing the manuscript to meet their requirements.

All 5 books have been updated to reflect the changes in the industry over the last few months and the website changes that take effect in January 2017. Anyone who has purchased the books in the past can download the books again and will receive the updated versions.

Book 5 contains extensive links to a wide variety of distributors, making it unable to be released on Amazon. It is only available through Smashwords and any of their extended distribution venues that choose to carry it.

Links to additional resources are an integral part of this series. For this reason, the series will only be available in electronic formats.


The Book that Can’t be Published

I made a stunning mistake. I wrote a book that can’t be published.

It takes skill to be that amazingly shortsighted.

Especially given that I’m an indie publisher!

I’ve taught classes on indie publishing, both one-on-one and in group settings, for years. There are thousands of books out there on the subject. But I came to see that what my students needed—what most writers needed—was a simplified walk-thru, a step-by-step guide. As many times as I’ve gone through the process of helping an author turn their book from a newly conceived idea into something they can hold and touch and sell, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t one comprehensive book on the market. I decided to write a book to walk you through everything. One book that would cover how to get your book produced, published, and distributed to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and in print world-wide.

I thought it would be really helpful to have an ebook that linked you to different vetted sources for more information as well as showed you exactly where to go to sign up on each major platform, and then helped you know which buttons to push once you got there. It would be like publishing a book with your friend the publisher standing over your shoulder saying, “now push that…go there…you’re done!”

And that’s how I came to write a book that could not be published.

What Went Wrong

It is amazing to me that I didn’t see the problem before I went to all the trouble of writing the book. When I started to get it ready for distribution, cold reality hit.

Distribution is where the magic happens in publishing. Distribution takes the book or epub from your computer and delivers it to the vendors’ websites so that customers can buy the book. Amazon and iTunes are well-known distributors. Smashwords or Lightning Source (one of the most powerful in the business).

I’d committed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of not one, but all of my distributors: I’d written a book that talked about all of them, weighed their pros and cons, and linked to useful information.

The links caused the problem. You see, each distribution contract forbids linking to other distributors.

I understand that in the terms of selling books. Of course they don’t want links to other vendors in their books. I would never include a link to buy a book on Barnes and Noble in a book intended for sale on Amazon. That is just obvious. But it turns out the “no linking” policy extends to linking to other vendors even if you aren’t suggesting buying from them, but selling through them.

Now my all-in-one guide will be a series, with parts of it only available on my website. I’ll also make a master set available on my website for the highly motivated souls who want all the puzzle pieces in one box.

Stay tuned. Cover reveals coming soon.

Update: the series of books are available individually or in a set from Smashwords.