As a freelance editor I am constantly scrolling through Craigslist and other publishing sites where human resources departments or private clients post advertisements looking for editors, whether full-time, part-time, freelance, or on contract. The most frustrating part of the majority of these ads is not just the lack of details or how poorly written, or proofed, they are, but the fact that the majority list “no pay,” “future royalties,” or “barter” as a fee for services rendered. And further, the majority of clients require you to do a lengthy edit for free, if they even bother to respond to your reply.
Well, I’m here to give you a few guidelines to follow when posting an ad on Craigslist or other sites like BiblioCrunch.
1. Before you click “post ad,” reread your advertisement for sense, spelling, and sentence structure. We are all capable of composing complete sentences and using spell-check AND a dictionary before posting an ad searching for someone to help us on a project. This is common sense and shows respect for your potential respondents, as it is when your book is free of errors for your future readers.
2. Let’s be honest—we are all trying to make money while also saving it and spending it wisely. But getting and paying for an editor to work on your manuscript is something no self-published author can do without, and so the money you spend on an editor will be the most well spent throughout the publishing process. All editors worth their salt are negotiable, within reason, and so should be paid. If you cannot afford to pay the fee all at once, I’m sure your editor will work with you using a payment-plan schedule, since all editors would like to earn money, regardless of how long it might take a client or two to pay them. BUT, the payment plan needs to be adhered to out of respect for your editor and the time-consuming service he has provided you with. If you can’t find an editor willing to work with you on a payment-plan option or a schedule that will meet both your needs, try a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds. If that doesn’t work, then maybe you’ll have to wait until you have the funds saved to properly pay an editor. In short, “no pay” is honestly not an option, bartering is something that I do not believe is feasible, as many editors do not need the majority of services that private clients could provide. And, as for the notion of paying an editor or ghostwriter, for that matter, from the future royalties you may receive, whether self-published or not, this is more impractical and unrealistic than bartering, since freelance editors can be costly, depending on the length and condition of the manuscript being worked on, and with the state of publishing the way it is, one may not even break even on the costs they lay out for the entire self-publishing process. This is said not to get you to give up on your dreams of becoming a published author, but as a bit of wisdom when considering all the minute details and costs inherent in the self-publishing process.
3. As for the information you should provide in your advertisement, I suggest the following as it will give your potential respondents some details necessary for them to decide whether to reply:
• Your first name—the personal touch is SO important these days, and should never go out of fashion, even when writing and speaking via e-mail.
• The name, length, and genre of your manuscript—these details will allow editors to decide if they should reply because they can decide if they are interested in working on your story and if they have the expertise in the genre to do so. The length should be given in both word count AND page count, as some editors (like me) gauge their fee on the number of pages in the MS, while others go by the word count. [Please note that all manuscripts should be sent to editors double-spaced and in 12-point Times New Roman font, so the page count should be based on these details.] Also, you may want to include a synopsis of your MS, but this can also be inserted into your e-mail response to the editors who reply.
• Most editors understand that they are wading in a vast pool with many, many other potential candidates, and so they need to do a sample edit for review to ensure the quality of their work and if they will be a good fit for you, so please state that a sample edit is required, but please understand (as I will discuss in my next “Tips for Writers” post) that the sample should be no more than 3–5 pages.
• Lastly, please let your potential respondents know how long they can have to work on the manuscript once you’ve chosen your editor. All editors know how important deadlines are, especially since many of us work for traditional publishing houses, but often authors do not grasp the amount of work editors put into a manuscript (thus the time-consuming nature of the process), and they demand their manuscript to be edited within a week, maybe two. As an author searching for an editor, you should first and foremost understand that editors work on multiple projects at a time, often without any regular time off, and so fitting in another project under an unreasonable deadline will not serve either you, them, or your book well. So, when letting your potential editors know your deadline, please be reasonable, basing it not just on their schedule but on the length and condition of your manuscript; these particulars are fundamental to getting your MS the best edit it deserves.
I tell you this with all due respect: Your book will get published, but quality work at all levels of the publishing process takes time and money, and so when going into it, whether writing, editing, proofreading, marketing, or designing, know that everything will get done and your book will be what you dream it will be if you know the details of the process and remember that these details require you to be reasonable, patient, respectful, able to negotiate, and have a sense of humor. Take it one day at a time and your dream of becoming a published author will come true.