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8 Questions You Should Be Able to Answer Before Hiring An Editor

Updated: Feb 8

In any given month, a few writers will email me saying they want to find the perfect book editor for their project. This always prompts me to ask a few questions to see if they are truly ready, or if perhaps, a bit more homework needs to be done first. Below are eight questions I ask potential clients before we move on to a phone consultation to see if we are a good fit for each other. Know your genre, target audience, weaknesses, and budget before hiring a freelance editor.

1. What is your genre?

This will tell your editor if they’re a good fit for your project. Unfortunately, editors are not a “one size fits all.” Professional editors specialize in certain genres, therefore, it’s imperative to know your genre, and if possible, your subgenre, so that the editor can see if this is an area they’re experienced in and how they can help you.

2. What is your word count?

Every genre, and subgenre, has a word count range that you should try your best to adhere to. For example, most memoirs are around 70k words. YA books average between 50k to 80k words. Mystery books about 80k words. Historical Fiction from 100k to 150k words (think Diana Gabaldon). So, if you’re within your word count range, this tells the editor that you’ve done your genre research and know what publishers and readers are expecting to see. It also means your manuscript will be about that length too, and that hasn’t gone overboard. You can learn more about what your word count should be in this post by The Write Life.

3. What draft are you working on?

If you’re on your first draft, then your novel or memoir is most likely on its way to becoming a manuscript but it’s probably not ready for editing yet. If you’re on your second or third draft, hopefully, you have beta-readers or a writing group looking at it and offering suggestions of what can be removed, things that need to be added. They might even suggest punctuation and grammar corrections. Be receptive, but take everything with a grain of salt. If the correction doesn’t feel right to you, make a note of it and come back to it later. If you’ve completed your third draft, and you’ve run a thorough gra