Yo, question, im self publishing a short story but how the actual f do i go up to editors and be like, hey so heres my finished manuscript can u check my spelling and stuff without making me wanna chuck it in the river and never write again??? Im extremely anxious about it but i dont want to just have friends proofread my manuscript. 😢😢😢
Depends on what you want to hire them for, is it copy of proofing or both?
(Copy being they are checking for consistency and plot holes and may recommend restructures or suggested edits to improve the text, proofing being “yep your spelling and grammar are correct, here you go!”)
Usually when people want to hire me they want both, they just don’t know how to word it. Which is why I will always ask them “what do you want from this editing experience”. Do you want me to pick apart the story to make sure it all fits back together again, or do you just want me to make sure it’s well punctuated and spelled correctly? Sometimes they’ll start out with “oh just grammar and spelling is fine, I think I’ve got everything pretty down, but y’know if you have any suggestions” which is when I have to very gently tell them they actually want a copy edit, and this will be a lengthier process than me going through it on a speed run basis. So also allowing yourself ample time to have it edited before a deadline, is a good idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve agreed to a project, asked them when they want it by and the email I get back says “well the deadline for open submissions ends tomorrow so if you could just” and I have to tell them no, this is not a thing that will be happening.
You may also want to ask your editor to do a read through first (offer to pay, even if they don’t want payment for it, it’s still the polite thing to do) to see if they have any suggestions as to what you can fix before they start combing through it with a fine tooth comb. This will also give you a vague idea of how they work as an editor and their approach to criticism.
Some editors only ever leave the negative feedback, short little sentences at the side like “This doesn’t work, fix it.” which to my mind, is one of the least helpful comments you can leave at the side of something. But I’ve also worked with editors who do that and shrug when you tell them that and say “it’s not my place to spoon feed them, if they can’t figure it out they shouldn’t be writing” which I mean, that’s one way to get your coffee spiked I suppose.
Personally I like to let the author know I am enjoying their work. It helps boost their morale a little bit, and means when you do need to tell them “hey this doesn’t really work”, it can soften the blow because I know, I know it’s so easy to look at something and hear “this is shit, why did you even write this”, when what I am actually trying to tell you is “you’ve written something really good here but this part lets it down, why not try rewriting this or consider cutting it entirely”. I have actively squeed in the comments section of manuscripts when I have figured something out or when the characterization is on point, and part of this is because I am expressive, but another part is because I just love words, I love seeing the clever ways people fit them together and I really don’t see the point in not telling someone they did a good job.
So, how do you approach an editor? Send them an email.
“Hi, my name is XYZ and I was hoping to engage your services for a final draft of my manuscript which I hope to self publish/submit to a magazine/competition/open submissions call/pitch to an agent*. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy/literary/romance/contemporary piece and I’m primarily looking for copy/proofing work, and was wondering about your rates. I have an open timeline/approaching deadline so a rough estimate of how long you think it would take would also be welcome. If you’d like to review the manuscript first I would be amenable to paying a reading fee for your time.
Thank you, I hope to hear from you and look forward to working with you,
Or as some people do on here “ @ joy I need help lmao how much money do I need to throw at you to fix this???” which has also worked :P
(*these are important distinctions to make, it helps us to tweak your work)