If you’re going to hire a freelance editor to edit your novel, you want to get the most out of him/her as you can. How can you do this?
Hand in the cleanest, most polished manuscript that you can provide.
Hey, don’t worry. We editors know that your novel won’t be perfect or you wouldn’t need our help, but if you still haven’t mastered the craft of writing, the editor is going to spend his/her time teaching you things that you could’ve learned through writing classes or how-to-write books and may not catch all the little mistakes in the novel. Not to mention, this is an expensive way of learning the craft.
In my case, I probably wouldn’t take the project until you learned some of the basics and applied them to the manuscript. My reputation is at stake, and I know that a project like this wouldn’t be close to publishable once I was finished editing it. This would be similar to an actress showing up to film a movie without having learned her lines. Sure, she’s there and can read her lines, but the final results wouldn’t be the same as if she’d memorized her lines before she arrived. With a novel like the one described above, the author could take my notes and suggestions and revise the manuscript, but I can guarantee the novel will need more than a copy edit at that point. It should go through another pass with an editor, preferably not the same editor so a new set of eyes could give you feedback.
But, who wants to hire editor after editor? That will cost a bundle, and we haven’t even touched the cost of copy editing or proofreading.
This is why you’d be much better off learning the craft of writing and applying what you’ve learned to your manuscript. Then, have a critique group and/or beta readers read the novel, and once everyone agrees the book is as polished as can be, contact an editor.
Keep in mind, many of us have a full schedule and can’t just fit you in. I typically book 4-6 months in advance. My next available substantive editing (aka developmental editing, content editing, or big picture editing) time slot is October 1.
Once you’ve booked your editor, start your next book. Keep your words flowing. Continue to learn by taking classes and reading both how-to-write books and published novels. Some authors, who’ve written more than one book, know roughly how long it will take to get through their revisions and beta readers, so they can plan ahead and book the editor while they’re still reworking the manuscript. However, if you don’t know how long the process will take, you risk not being ready to submit your manuscript when it’s due to your editor. This will mess up his/her schedule and possibly mean a loss of income for him/her, and you may lose your time slot altogether. Be professional and respect your editor’s time. While we expect an occasional scheduling mishap, most editors won’t work with unreliable authors.
The best way to save money when hiring an editor is to hand in a clean manuscript. The more polished the manuscript, the lower the editorial cost.