It’s crossed your mind, hasn’t it?
What happens if your editor stuffs up your voice?
What if she doesn’t ‘get’ you, strips out your voice, removes your humour, makes it correct but not quirky… What then?
I know it’s nerve-wracking to hand over the manuscript you’ve poured hours of work and years of soul into. Especially because if the worst happens and you don’t like the job your editor does, it’s a whole lot of work to fix it. You have to rewrite your voice back in. After writing the book once already, you have to go through the entire thing again and make it sound like you. Again.
Not only is that a massive waste of your time, but it delays your launch and costs you money
Not to mention undermines your confidence in what you wrote in the first place.
How do I know this?
Because on at least three occasions in the last eight months of editing, I’ve picked up the pieces for authors who haven’t gelled with their original editor. And they’ve had to rewrite and then pay again for expert editing.
To avoid this worst-case-scenario, I suggest teeing up some interviews or consultations with editors to see if you have a rapport.
Here’s what to ask them to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
1 “How many reviews do I get?”
With some editors there’s a lot of back and forth, with others you’re paying for one review. It’s worth asking what the price includes, how many times your editor will go through your manuscript. My service is a two-stage process. First, I copyedit for all the subjective language- and voice-related aspects, audience-appropriateness and flow. Then you review. And in my second run-through, I proofread for accuracy and consistency.
2 “What is your availability and turnaround like?”
You may not know your dates yet if you haven’t finished writing, but find out how long in advance the editor you’re considering books up so you can make sure you get in their schedule. Having your editor locked in should give you peace of mind and gives you accountability to get your writing finished. Build in a buffer of time before in case you need extra time to write, and afterwards between editing and launch.
3 “What happens if I don’t like it? Do you have a complaints procedure?”
All good businesses should have a contingency for if the work doesn’t go to plan. If ever anyone is unhappy with the work I do, I have a procedure just in case, although I tend not to advertise it (or need it!). If you work with me and you find any mistakes in the final piece, I will have it independently proofread at my expense. I also build in the review period in the middle, so you can make sure we’re on track with the style.
4 “How do you make sure you retain my voice?”
A good editor should be invisible in the final work. That means they should not be stamping their style or rigid conventions over your work, so your voice gets lost in the process. Ask them how they intend to make sure your voice stays in there, while also enhancing your work to the next level.
5 “What kind of work have you edited before?”
To check whether your editor knows your niche and can handle your project, find out what kind of work they’ve already done. Sometimes editors will offer test edits. (I don’t as it significantly slows down the process, which I find doesn’t suit busy entrepreneurs writing non-fiction.) Sometimes a portfolio will speak for itself. However you make your decision, delve into whether your editor understands what you do or is savvy and can quickly get her head around your business, or even make suggestions when you’re still in the writing phase.
To guide my clients even further in what will happen when we work together, I’ve put together all my Frequently Asked Questions. You can check it out here.