In the NBC series The Good Place
, Chidi Anagonye is a character who’s notoriously bad at making decisions, whether big or small. Based on this alone, Chidi would have a tough time writing a novel, as the whole process is packed with decision-making: what will happen next? Will this character end up happily ever after? Should the story end here or later? Should my novel start in media res? These kinds of questions would send Chidi spiraling.
And that’s just the writing! Once the manuscript is finished, one of the biggest decisions authors face is who they’ll trust to help them polish it into the final product that will find its way to readers.
Luckily, for any of you writers out there who might relate to Chidi, we’ve got a couple of tips to help you find the right freelancer for your novel.
Do your homework
The search for your dream collaborator starts with a few different types of homework.
Know what type of freelancer you’re looking for
If you’re looking for an editor, are you hoping for them to focus on big-picture items such as plot holes, inconsistent characterizations, or structural issues? If so, you’ll want to look for a developmental editor. Perhaps you’ve already taken your story through its paces and want a professional eye to sweep your manuscript clean of any copy issues. In that case, a copy editor or proofreader will be your book’s new best friend. (You can learn more about the different types of editing here
These kinds of distinctions can be important for book design
and book marketing
, too. Do you have an intricately illustrated book cover in mind? Are you hoping to work with a marketer who can show you the ropes of Facebook ads?
The more you can figure out what it is you’re looking for, the more you can tailor your search to ensure you’re looking in the right places. And while you should certainly do this due diligence before you start looking, freelancers are often happy to point you in the right direction if you ask for their feedback. (Such as this editor who encouraged her client to get a copy edit
after being approached for an editorial assessment!)
Review freelancer portfolios for relevant-market experience
For authors who are hoping to turn their foray into self-publishing
into a full-fledged writing career, knowing your market is not only an important part of the writing
process. A firm understanding of your market will inform almost all
of your publishing decisions, including the freelancers you hire to ready your book for proverbial bookshelves.
Let’s say you’ve already determined you need a developmental editor to address the pacing of your romance novel. A quick search of “romance developmental editors” on Google will yield thousands of results — and on the Reedsy
marketplace, you’ll find about 250 vetted editors using the same search terms. Now let’s say your romance novel falls into the regency category. Why not take your search one step further by looking for developmental editors who have specifically worked on regencies? On Reedsy, the first editor you’d come across is Rose Lerner
, and a quick scroll through her portfolio will show you she’s worked with bestselling historical romance authors Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare, and that she’s edited a number of regencies.
Or perhaps you’ve written an apocalyptic sci-fi novel and know you want a boldly illustrated cover. Again, the first result on Reedsy will take you to Ryan Schwarz’ portfolio
, where samples of his past work will give you immediate confirmation he’s experienced in that particular niche.
Establish a budget, but be willing to adjust expectations
Establishing a budget can be tricky for new authors who aren’t yet familiar with the costs of different services. If you’re hoping to turn book-writing into a career, something to keep in mind is that you’re essentially starting a business — and all new businesses require investment.
That being said, you don’t want to break the bank, so you should come up with a solid idea of the budget your self-publishing career can reasonably afford.
To get a better understanding of the averages
certain services cost, you can turn to resources like this pricing calculator
, which takes into account the length and genre of your book to provide you with a price range.
However, the cost of working with a freelancer varies according to a number of factors, including the scope and complexity of the work and the experience level of the professional. So your best bet is to reach out to freelancers you’re interested in working with and request quotes from them. At Reedsy
, we allow users to request free quotes from up to five professionals at a time.
Remember, these are people who make a living by working with authors; they want to find projects that spark their interest. So don’t be shy when it comes to asking questions!
And on that note...
Achieving a harmonious and fruitful collaboration relies heavily on communication. You absolutely want to hire a freelancer with experience working on books similar to yours. But it's also important that you’re able to have productive conversations with them. You want to feel comfortable giving feedback. At the same time, you want to know the feedback you receive will be delivered constructively as well.
Finally, you want to be able to enjoy the collaboration process as well! You don’t want a working relationship emulative of Edgar Allan Poe and his editor, Rufus Wilmot Griswold. (Trust us, it was strained.) Friendly chit-chat and cordial interactions might not seem like a vital part of successful collaboration, but the opposite can undoubtedly lead to an unsuccessful one.
So how do you know if you will “click” with someone before you’ve hired them? Ask questions! Inquire about a previous project or ask about their work process. You don’t want to pepper them with queries — keep in mind that freelancers are usually busy juggling multiple projects at once. But engaging in brief conversation while you’re still in the hiring process can help you get a sense of what communication might look like down the road.
A most interesting post to read. I started my fifth book sometime ago .....of poems to celebrate my late son's life but all this global upheavel have stopped me, hope to get back soon and complete it.
Hope you're safe and well.
Thanks for sharing the tips on the different types of editors we could use and how to decide what type of services we need. Without considering this, it could be easy to overspend on these services.
You definitely want to find the right people to work with.
There are so many levels of editing - know what level you need.
Great advice - knowing the level of editing needed is a biggie!
Great article and tips. Thank you.
Asking questions and finding the right fit sure is key indeed. Great tips.
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What a terrific topic and informative post. Thank you for sharing these important tips. Be well and safe.
I think figuring out what type of editing you need is SO helpful in finding the right person for the job. It really allows you to narrow the search.
An interesting review of the Editor's criteria. If I have seen this article from you so far, I consider all of them neat and good to do. I'm sure you include carefully working on each article.
Salute to that, Pat
Thanks, Lee, for an informative article! I have so much to learn!
We can always count on Reedsy to pull through with helpful information about our business.
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