I think we agree that, to be a writer, one must write, write, write … right? As time goes by, I’m seeing that we get better at our craft, and we learn to think both as writer and reader.
It’s our job to get the images out of our heads and onto the page. It isn’t enough to just think great stories if your reader doesn’t experience it fully.
Finding a good editor is, by far, the biggest challenge that I’ve had, and I know that many of my writer friends feel the same. And for that reason it has caused me to delay the release of my first book. Not to mention the amount of money I have lost. But I think I have discovered the secret to finding a good editor.
Unless you’re an editor yourself, chances are you’ll need to have a relationship with a professional, who can help you to be certain that you cross your t’s, dot your I’s, that your grammar and punctuation are top notch, and that your writing is clearly expressing all that you want it to. Professional editors are especially adept at reading our work in a way that helps us to turn our vision into reality, to reach the readership we target, and to do it effectively and efficiently.
I have taken notice of multi-tasking authors’ tendency to be exhausted all the time, working on editing jobs full-time, and on their own compositions full-time. There just isn’t room for them to do their best work on both! Maybe they are not interested in giving you there best work. I have often found typos and errors that should have been caught. I have notice multi-tasking authors’ tendency to be flaky and, chances are, they have a ton of work to do, while pursuing their own writing goals; this will not work. You cannot risk spending your money on an editor who is giving you half-baked editing, or rushed work. Remember that you are probably one of several or many clients, and your editor may have no time, in that whirl of responsibility, to give you their best. They can be like a home contractor who has decided to flee with the down payment without finishing the work.
My advice is to find an English teacher or professor of English from a college who has no aspirations of becoming an author. There are, also, retired English majors who actually enjoy editing as a hobby, rather than for simply making a profit. They take a real interest in watching others achieve their writing goals. But editor/authors may envy your manuscript and deliberately not deliver a fully polished manuscript.
If you don’t have a big budget for editing, you might try contacting or visiting a local college and checking the English department for outstanding English majors; they usually will not charge a lot. Follow up by having several people you trust proof read your work, as well.
I suggest that my writing contemporaries investigate, do your homework, and check out references and samples before you commit to an editor. And it isn’t enough to just hire an editor with a great website and years of experience. I do agree that we should “never say never,” and it could happen that I someday hire a writer to do editing work for me, but as I see it from here, I will try to avoid that.
Good luck to you in this process!