“I’m self-publishing because I don’t want someone else telling me what to write. So why should I hire an editor?”
A good editor should never take away the author’s voice but should instead help the author to find their voice. Editors point out areas of the manuscript that are unclear, contain inconsistencies, and lack flow along with spelling and grammar errors. A good editor can recommend ways to make characters stronger, plot smoother, and make sure the ending answers all the unanswered questions of the manuscript, all while keeping the author’s vision and voice intact.
It’s important that you find the right editor for you. That may or may not be the same editor as your best friend or critique partner. It may take you several attempts to find the right fit with an editor. And the editor who was perfect for you on one project may not be the right editor for your next book if it is in a different genre. How do you know if you’ve found the editor for you? It’s not necessarily the editor that returns your manuscript with the most or least amount of edits. It’s the editor that provides the edits that fit best with your style, voice, and vision as well as making the book a better product for the reader.
Another important aspect is to know which kind of editing you need. Are you looking for a developmental or content editor? Those are the editors that help you from the very beginnings of the idea for the book all the way through writing The End. Or are you looking for a copy editor? Copy editors are the ones who check spelling, grammar, consistency of voice and other elements, and keep you from using the same verb every other sentence. Some editing services offer both kinds of editing while others only offer one or the other.
How do you find a freelance editor? Ask! Ask other authors, ask your formatter from previous books, ask for business cards at events. Read the ads in publications, both online and print, for editing services and contact those editors. If you simply search for freelance editors on the Internet, you will be completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of options. Recommendations from others, as well as editors you meet at conferences or whose ads you see in publications that you read, are the best way to make the starting list manageable when searching for an editor.