When Is the Best Time to Contact a Freelance Editor?

As a freelance editor, I can tell you writers are all over the place when it comes to knowing when is the best time to contact me, and I don’t blame them. It depends on the editor to a certain degree. However, there are times when most editors will agree you should or shouldn’t contact them.

Don’t contact a freelance editor if you:

-want to ask her opinion on whether or not your IDEA is a good one BEFORE you write the story. You could contact a writing coach for this service. And, yes, I am a writing coach, too.

-woke up one morning and wrote a book—IN A DAY—or even a month. Quality writing takes time. You may have written a first draft, but now, you have to revise and edit.

-have a great idea but aren’t that good at writing. Hire a ghostwriter, not an editor.

-want the editor to make all the changes and do all the rewrites for you. Ah, no. That’s your job. We can make suggestions, but you still have to do the work.

-think you’re the next Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or any other famous author out there. Your ego is probably too big for us.

-aren’t ready for real criticism (constructive but real). We’re not here to hold your hand or tell you how great your story is if it isn’t. But, we don’t purposely try to knock you down or hurt your feelings. If you don’t have a thick skin in this business, you’re going to suffer a lot of pain, and not just from criticism editors give you.

-you’re just starting a book and have never completed one before. How do you know you will finish this one? How can you estimate how long it’ll take for you to polish it? Some of my regular clients book me for their next book before they’ve started writing it, but that’s different. We know roughly how long the story will be, based off past work, and we know how long it’ll take her to finish writing the novel.

-you haven’t done your homework and don’t realize how much hiring a freelance editor will cost. Sure, there are always new editors who charge less and experienced editors who charge more, but most of us sit somewhere in the middle. Depending on your word count and the type of work you want to have done, you can expect to pay between $1,000-$3,500, sometimes more.

-are currently submitting to agents and editors. If you felt your manuscript was ready to submit to agents and editors, but the rejections are telling a different story, it’s okay to contact a freelance editor IF you’ve pulled your manuscript from all agents and editors who requested it. Otherwise, you might have to pull your manuscript from the freelance editor in the middle of the edit, because you suddenly got an offer of representation. This makes for a messy situation and isn’t fair to the freelance editor who could’ve filled the slot with someone else. Commit either to submitting to agents and editors or to having your work professionally edited. Don’t do this simultaneously.

Do contact a freelance editor if you:

-have a draft written AND you understand you need to polish it as best you can BEFORE you send it to the editor. It’s okay to book an editor after you’ve written your draft, because many of us book up several months in advance, so while you’re waiting for your time slot to come up, you can polish your manuscript.

-have a polished manuscript ready to go AND you understand most of us have already booked up in advance, so you may have to wait weeks or months before we can get to your work. This isn’t always the case. New editors will often have slots available immediately. Others may have a last minute cancellation that they need to fill, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

-have figured out a way to pay for the service. I offer a payment plan so clients can make payments (with the final payment due before the start date), but you need to have a credit card or PayPal account. I won’t accept checks.

-are ready to learn from your mistakes and make your book the best it can be. When I edit, I try to teach as I go, so the writer doesn’t continue to make the same errors.

Knowing when to contact a freelance editor will help make it easier for you to find the right editor when the time comes. Don’t forget to check out my website: www.labelleseditorialservices.com and my testimonials page: http://labelleseditorialservices.com/testimonials/

Lynnette Labelle

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