A concern I know many authors have is about how to find a good editor and make sure they aren't going to be suckered into paying good money for an editor who may do a second-rate job.
I'm going to start this off by saying that no editor is perfect. We are, after all, human beings. It's unrealistic to expect 100 percent accuracy. Having said that, however, your editor should be able to eliminate almost all of your errors and contribute to your project in other ways, like pointing out inconsistencies, improving the syntax and storyline, etc.
Having said that, there are some things you should look for in an editor.
- Make sure you hire an editor with actual editing experience with real publishing companies. While your second cousin who likes to read might think she's ready to be an editor, there are many things that can't be learned in editing except through experience. Like writing or any other skill, it's something that takes lots of time and practice to perfect.
- Cheaper does not always (and in fact usually doesn't) mean better! Yes, you might get a great deal from a new editor looking to break into the business, but that cheaper price can come at the expense of quality. I have personally had to re-edit several projects authors paid other unskilled editors to do, and it's an extremely frustrating situation that ends up costing more in the long run.
- Try to get a sample edit if possible. I know many editors are cautious about doing sample edits, since there is a lot of potential for people to abuse the system and get free work out of an editor, but I believe it is beneficial for both authors and editors. With a sample, you can see if the editor's style meshes with what you are looking for and know what to expect. A few pages should be all you need to get a good picture of what the full edit will look like. As an editor who does sample edits, I also beg you not to request a sample edit if you don't have the budget to pay the editing fee. Freelance editors need to make a living just like everyone else, and time taken up with providing sample edits for authors who have no intention of paying for an edit is very frustrating.
- Find an editor who has experience in your genre. If you're a young adult fiction author, an editor who specializes in cookbooks is probably not going to be a good fit for you. Different genres have different conventions, and an editor who has never edited in your genre probably will not be aware of them.
These are just a few things to take into consideration when you're figuring out who should edit your book. It's an important decision that should not be taken lightly. Give yourself time to check out a few qualified editors and figure out who is the best fit for your book and your personality.