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S2/E3: How to Work with an Editor: A Guide for (Nervous) Authors by Jennifer McIntyre & Mark J.


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This week’s book is How to Work with an Editor: A Guide for (Nervous) Authors written by Jennifer McIntyre and published in conjunction with Mark J. Dawson and his Self Publishing Formula empire in 2017.


The author is Jennifer McIntyre, an editor with twenty years of experience, more than ten of them as a freelance editor. She wrote this under the auspices of the Self Publishing Formula (SPF) line, which is Mark Dawson’s baby. SPF offers courses, a writing podcast and vlog, and a number of free and inexpensive books on writing.

The SPF‘s audience is obviously primarily independent authors, however, the advice offered by McIntyre is useful whether you choose to go the traditional or indie publishing route. Sooner or later, one way or another, if you plan to publish professionally, you’re going to be dealing with an editor.

  1. If you’re going the independent route, all the best advice out there urges you to hire a freelance editor to help you get your work ready before releasing it out into the world.

  2. Even if you’re going the traditional route, you may choose to hire a freelance editor to get your work polished in an effort to increase the likelihood of landing an agent.

  3. And if your work is accepted by a traditional publisher, you will definitely work with an editor before your work is published

So the day will come when an editor will become a part of your professional writing life. McIntyre is here to tell you that there’s no reason to dread this day. In fact, it is something you should embrace, dare I say, even look forward to?

Three Things

1 First and foremost, know what kind of edit your work needs at this juncture. There are three main types of edits: The Developmental Edit (think big picture, structural questions), the Copy Edit (consistency check, grammar, some fact-checking sorts of things), and the Proofread (the fine tune, the polish, the last punch-list check).

2 This is both a business and a personal relationship. Honor both aspects in your search for an editor. You obviously want someone who’s qualified to offer the kind of edit you need, but that person needs to be someone that you can see yourself working with on your creative “baby.” There are soft-touch editors and brutally honest editors and everything in between. Find the one that’s going to be a good fit for your personality. Don’t hesitate to ask for references and even stalk them a little on social media and elsewhere to get a feel for whether or not you guys are simpatico. And before you get a full edit, hire them for a sample edit first. (Note: You may or may not have to pay for this first edit. Both ways are considered acceptable practices.) Dair Bonus: Look for an editor who specializes in the types of books you write! Don’t, for instance, hire someone who specializes in splatter gore zombie horror to edit your historical romance. 😉

3 Once you choose an editor, be ready and open to hear what the editor is trying to tell you and to make (some, but not necessarily all the suggested) changes. You are paying them for their advice, after all. (And speaking of payment, pay them on time. They really appreciate that.)

Here’s an early warning before you get it in your head that your manuscript is garbage because it came back covered in red or blue ink:

“Every author has revisions. Every single one. So strap in, grab a cup of your favourite hot beverage (no, not an Irish coffee!), roll up your sleeves, and let Phase 2 begin.” Jennifer McIntyre in How to Work with an Editor: A Guide for (Nervous) Authors

This is a really short book — only 55 pages. And at most you will be 99 cents for it. However, it offers a LOT of detailed, brass-tacks advice in those 55 pages. McIntyre guides you through how to find and safely hire an editor and also offers advice on what to do with the feedback once it arrives. There are a number of samples, including introductory emails, a sample contract, and sample edits.

*McIntyre includes links to editors’ societies and associations like the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) and the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) where you can search for freelance editors for your project. These sites list editors for hire and include the going rates you should expect for the different types of edits. Dair Bonus: Reedsy is another great place to look for reputable editors.

If you’re looking to go a little deeper on this subject, following are a couple of other SPF books you might also want to check out.

Next week I’ll be reviewing my first class for this series. I’ll be offering up three concepts and a hack from David Baldacci’s Master Class.

Until then. . .

Happy writing, people!


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