The publisher of one of my first books about online business brought in an editor who was very good, but not for what we needed. I was writing a book for businesspeople. She was used to editing “dummies” type books.
She asked me to insert sections on things like “turning on the computer.” I resisted. In the end, the publisher brought in another editor to work on my manuscript. The new editor had experience editing material for business readers. All was well.
I love editors because they help me look good and save me from myself. Your book deserves a professional editor. In most cases, that won’t your cousin who has an English degree. Once you’ve identified some editors, here’s how to make an informed choice of which one to work with.
Not all editors are created equal. Check qualifications and experience. You usually want someone who does this as a full-time or consistent side business.
You’re writing a business book, so you want an editor who’s comfortable editing for business readers. Ask about experience editing business books.
There are editors who are experienced in other fields but who will do a fine job for you on your business book. A recent client chose an editor with no business book experience at all who did a superb job. Don’t make business editing a requirement, but make it a plus.
Try it before you buy it. The real question is whether an editor can improve your material. Ask the editors on your short list to spend an hour editing a representative sample of your manuscript. Pay them for their work.
The samples should tell you which editors can do what you want. They will also give the editors a sense of how much work your manuscript needs. That should make it possible for them to give you a fixed price bid on the job. The samples will also give both of you an idea about whether you’re a good fit.
Get some references and contact them. You already know something about the quality of work, so ask references about the contracting experience. Was the editor easy to work with? Did he or she keep promises and make agreed-upon deadlines?
Listen to your gut. If your gut screams, “No! Danger! There be monsters!” it’s probably right.