6 Keys to Finding Your Personal Best Editor

Guest Blogger and author Pat Holland Conner shares some of the pitfalls and successes she encountered as she pursued getting her book into print. Pat Holland Conner is the author of Doorways to Significance: Finding Peace, Power & Passion, recently published by Lucky Bat Books. This is her blog.

Doorways To Significance by Pat Holland ConnerBy Pat Holland Conner, author of Doorways to Significance

Discipline, determination and many “miss-takes” guided me toward an eventual destination to completion.

How do you determine who provides expert information for your writing and publishing needs?

As a trained and board certified family therapist and substance abuse counselor, I am required by my licensing boards to attend classes for updating my current level of knowledge.  In this way, I am considered an expert in my field. Many editors, too, have graduate degrees in literature and language arts, though there is no certification that I know of that marks them as experts.

Finding Editorial Support

Although writing is a solitary and individual experience, one’s writing must be supported and reinforced through others’ eyes and wisdom. We may know about telling the story, but there are experts who know how to help us structure the manuscript, market and promote the work.

An editor is the writer’s most important helper and should be engaged from the first days of writing. How do you determine which editor is an expert?

When I began writing, I didn’t understand the necessity of a support system and its requirements. I listened to colleagues’ advice, read ads in writing magazines and soon found myself buried in soliciting editorial services (for an unspecified and unknown need). I knew only how much I didn’t know and I needed help. My innocence (or was it ignorance?) backfired on me.

Paying a Lot for Nothing

Disappointment in the selection of the wrong editor at an inappropriate stage of my writing experience caused a relapse in my creative capabilities. I’d settled for less than expert guidance. In one situation I contracted for editorial services following a friend’s referral, sent the check before services were performed and received a rendition of notes at the end of each chapter, including “Good story,” “How sad,” “Wish I could have been there for you.”

Following the litany of these short comments, I wondered what I needed to do next. I was confused and embarrassed to tell my writer friend about my expensive lesson and ready to chuck the whole idea of becoming a writer.

Soon I found another editor and another one.

Finding the Right Editorial “Fit”

Later I attended a writer’s conference and shared my concerns with Cindie Geddes, whom I’d just met. She asked me if I knew the stages of the editorial process. I didn’t answer her, sensing there was something more I needed to learn about making a success of my project. In brief, she told me that there are many types of editing required throughout the course of the writing experience. It is necessary to know the differences between the stages of editing and how to identify when and where help is needed.

But how to find the editors I need? Here’s what I learned when I asked for help from this new editor, an expert, who is now my publisher.

6 Keys to Finding and Selecting an Editor

  1. Get to know a variety of editors by visiting their websites, brief telephone consults and asking for testimonials. Determine whether their services match my editing prerequisites.
  2. Ask the editor to share work samples exhibiting their style and selected recommendations.
  3. Do not be afraid to ask about specific costs for the entire project, including any additional fees such as phone calls, consultations, completion dates and a description of editorial styles used for the critique.
  4. Clarify your expectations and create a budget for editorial services. You get what you pay for. Compare and research fees for service before signing on the dotted line.
  5. Be certain you are ready for each level of service you require.  Do you need a ghost-writer, developmental editor, copy editor, proof-reader or others?  Only you can determine your level of need.
  6. Be responsible for the choices you make. “Miss-takes” are our Teachers. Don’t waste your energy complaining about how bad one experience was … just move on to the next choice. Accept that you will make “miss-takes.”  Use your good vibrations to continue writing.

Your editor is your best friend when YOU make the expert choices in meeting your needs.

[Editor’s note: Connect with Pat on Facebook. Visit her Website. And check out her very cool book trailer.]



1 thought on “6 Keys to Finding Your Personal Best Editor”

  1. Thank you, Pat. I know it’s been a wondrous journey for you, and we’re proud and happy to be a small part of it.
    Thanks for sharing the lessons learned along the way, too!

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