10 questions to help you hire an editor

Need an expert hand to whip your draft into shape? These questions can help you find the consultant that is best suited to help you.

Hire an editor

Whether you are a screenwriter, novelist, or creative nonfiction author, at some point in your career a day will come when you decide you need help.

Maybe the narrative wheels came off the cart. Maybe you wrote yourself into a dead end. Maybe you found yourself drowning in story flood plains with no land in sight, or maybe you just want to get an opinion on your work that is not your mother’s. So you bite the bullet and hire a story consultant or an editor.

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For most writers, this decision is fraught with uncertainty: What do these ”consultants” do anyway? How do I know they actually know what they’re doing? What’s the difference between a story consultant, line editor, and developmental editor?

You quickly discover the editorial zoo is crowded, expensive, and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. The consultancy relationship is a two-way street, and both parties have their own responsibilities. Yet for any relationship to work, the partners need to be actively engaged, have trust, and hold one another in mutual respect. If these three things are not present, then you run the risk of either being run over by the consultant or becoming a traffic hazard that stops the consultant from delivering what’s promised.

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It all begins with engagement, and you, the writer, are the initiator. Without you setting the right tone, expectation, and objective from the start, any potential trust and respect in the partnership will vanish, and the experience will probably be unpleasant (and costly).

If you own your own business or a home, then you already have some practical experience hiring vendors. When you hire a plumber to fix your pipes, you do your due diligence, right? You call around, get referrals, check reviews online, ask hard questions to make sure they’re bonded and have been in business for a while. You set the tone (I’m the boss), have clear expectations (Scope of Work), and have a clear objective (deliverables). It should be no different with a script consultant or book editor.

Click the buttons below to see the ten questions you can ask both your consultant and yourself that will help set the tone, expectations, and results of the consulting engagement so that everyone’s needs are met.