One of the most important things a novelist must do-especially if they self-publish is find a good editor. But how do you know where to find one and how do you know if they’re good?

When you begin looking for an editor, you need to know what sort of editing you need. Do you want someone to check your writing craft: point of view, character development, and story structure? Then you need either a developmental editor or a book coach—frequently one person will do both. Or do you just need someone to do a lighter edit: make sure the story flows, there aren’t any glaring plot holes, and do a light check for grammatical mistakes? Then you need copy editing, or usually it’s just called editing. If all you need is someone to check for grammatical, punctuation, and repetition, you need a proofreader. A lot of the time even after your book has been edited, it will still need to be proofread because while an editor is on the lookout for higher level problems, they may easily miss a punctuation or grammatical mistake.

Now that you know what sort of editing you need, how do you find the person to do this work for you? The easiest way is to ask your writing friends. They all use an editor and probably know quite a few. No writing friends? Or perhaps you don’t feel comfortable asking, join a writing group on Facebook (there are thousands. I’d recommend finding one for the particular genre or even subgenre you write). If FB isn’t your thing, but Instagram, X, or Blue sky is, ask there. There are writing communities at every major social media site, you just need to find them. You can, of course, look on where there is a list of editors and other writing service providers. They, however, may be more expensive. They do have to pay for placement on the list (which is not cheap) and will most likely pass that cost on to you. If you want to go super-cheap, there is always Fivrr, but then you might not be getting the best editor you can ( sometimes you get what you pay for).

Once you have a list of 4 or 5 names, contact them or look at their website, if they have one (hopefully they do). See if they: 1) edit your genre (not all editors edit everything); and 2) will do a test edit of your first 20-25 pages. If they will do a test edit, that’s a good sign you’ve got a professional editor. Once they do the test edit see if they didn’t miss any glaring mistakes (you can tell by comparing what others found) and if they gave you the start of feedback you’re looking for.

Some authors like an editor who is straight forward and blunt (“This is wrong. Here’s how to fix it.”) and others are more gentle with their comments (“I didn’t quite understand this. You might try…”). Be warry of an editor who tries to rewrite your work or change your voice. Your work is your own and should sound like you so long as it’s understandable and genre appropriate. A good editor also won’t only have negative things to say. They’ll sprinkle in some positive comments as well. But most of all, you need to work well with your editor. They need to understand your work, know the genre, and give you the sort of feedback you’re looking for.

If you write fantasy or romance, you can check out Anessa Books where we have all levels of editing for very reasonable prices.