If you’re considering getting some help with your manuscript, you may be wondering how far in advance you should book an editor. Scheduling is especially important if you’re going to be self-publishing and need to make sure everything is done before your release. Or if you plan on entering a writing or pitching contest and have a deadline to work with. You want to be sure your choice of freelance editor is available!
Here is some advice on when you should contact and book your editor.
An experienced freelance editor will likely book months out
If your editor is experienced, it’s likely they’ll be booking months out. This could be a couple of months, six months, or more, depending on how in-demand your chosen editor is! To give you an idea, as of writing this, it’s the start of January 2022, and I’m booking for May 2022 onwards.
Each editor will be different in terms of how booked up they are.
The golden rule here is: get in touch many months before you think you will need them!
Freelance editors who are new to the field
If you’ve really left it too late, try someone who has recently set up their editorial business. They may have less work on their plate and have more availability to fit you in.
I will add the caveat that you should be careful when selecting your editor (whether they’re “new” or not). Anyone can set up a website and hang up their shingle as an editor. You want to be sure your editor has experience and is qualified to do the job. Look for qualifications or equivalent experience, membership of an organisation such as the CIEP, testimonials/recommendations, and portfolio items. Make sure they know how to do what you need (if an editor only has critiquing experience, they might not be the best person to perform a copyedit).
Should you book a freelance editor while you’re still writing?
Some authors book their editor while they’re still writing or revising their work. It’s usually up to the editor if they want to book a client who has an incomplete project and it requires trust. There are pros and cons to the approach:
- You can book the editor well in advance.
- It allows you a deadline to work with to complete your book (if you find deadlines helpful this can encourage and motivate you).
- Booking in advance can allow for better money management (paying a deposit to your editor and planning for any final payments).
- Your editor may have rescheduling terms (such as re-arranging a scheduled edit with four weeks’ notice), and if you reschedule too late (such as a few days before the job), you may lose your deposit, or your editor might decide not to work with you next time.
- You may feel pressured to finish on time and that can cause stress.
- If you are consistently flaky, that might harm your relationship with your editor.
Use your best judgement and talk things through with your editor before you make a booking with an unfinished project. Booking an incomplete project becomes much easier when you have an established relationship with your editor and you both trust each other.
Don’t expect too much too quickly
I’ve had emails over the years where writers want an edit or critique starting tomorrow, or next week. For large book-length projects, this usually isn’t feasible unless there’s been a sudden cancellation.
Your editor has existing clients and most likely regulars who take up the bulk of their schedule. For me, for example, I have to balance my work for authors and my regular work for publishing houses and businesses. I want to do a great job for my authors, so that means not booking too many jobs at once. In turn, that means authors tend to have to wait a few months to work with me.
I hope this post helped you work out the best time to book an editor. If you contact editors in advance, you shouldn’t have a problem securing the right editor for you. But it can also help to be willing to wait, and be flexible about your options. Good luck!
If you’d like to work with me on your book, check out my editorial services here.