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As editing and ghostwriting experts based out of Phoenix, Arizona, the staff at Midnight Publishing is especially passionate about publishing, both self-publishing and traditional, the editing process, and those debut/newer authors who might not be as familiar with what an editor’s services look like—or whether they’re even good at what they do. We wanted to gather a list of what we feel are the top professional services an editor should provide when working with you on your book, so that you have a better idea of what to expect (nay, demand!), and can distinguish if someone isn’t as reputable as they should be.

Midnight Publishing’s top tips for what to expect from your freelance editor and the editing process as a whole:

1. A Developmental Edit Should Look at the Big Picture, in Detail

Let us explain what we mean by this. If this is a developmental edit for a fictional manuscript, the main goal should be to identify plot inconsistencies and holes (unexplained parts), character appearance inconsistencies, the characters’ arcs (do they change? How do they grow?), whether the plot pace is too slow, too fast, etc., identify “darling” scenes that can be cut because they serve no purpose to the story, etc.

What we meant earlier by “in detail” is that if you’re working with someone on an in-depth developmental edit, expect a substantial amount of interaction and lengthy evaluation of your manuscript from the editor, with some back and forth discussion. Unless it’s a near-perfect manuscript, your editor will find things to consider changing/fixing, and should make suggestions on ways to tighten the storyline, increase the tension and conflict, make your characters less cookie-cutter and more complex, etc.

If you’re not receiving a detailed evaluation of your manuscript during a developmental edit, and the editor isn’t providing at least some availability for clarification or discussion after the edits are sent over, they’re not up to par. Check with an editor’s policies beforehand on how much discussion they provide after a job has been completed—they may charge per the hour, provide one or two hours’ worth of clarification on a complimentary basis, etc.

2. Your Copyeditor Should Follow a Particular Style Guide—and They Should Tell you about it Beforehand

Ever heard of AP Style or Chicago Manual of Style? These are the two most frequent “style guides” or “rulebooks” for published works. AP Style is used for editorials, newspapers, online content, etc., while the Chicago Manual of Style is used for 99% of published works of fiction/non-fiction. If you’ve hired an editor to copyedit or proofread your manuscript, they should absolutely tell you which style guide they follow.

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Each style guide has rules for writing numbers, hyphenation, commas, etc., and though these may seem trivial, if you want your self-published book to rival the quality of traditionally published works, then you definitely want a copyeditor/proofreader who knows their style guides and is forthcoming with you about which ones they use. Midnight Publishing is experienced in both, and we take our clients’ preferred style into account before editing. Your editor may offer that choice to you as well, or may only be proficient in one style. Regardless, a style guide must be discussed and implemented during the editing process to be truly publish-ready.

3. Your Editor Should Offer to Show You Testimonials, TheirCredentials, and Have More Evidence of Their Expertise Before You Sign a Contract with Them

This is another huge one, especially if you’re hiring a freelancer. Freelance editors (or even smaller companies like Midnight Publishing) live and die by our testimonials, and whoever you decide to hire for your book’s editing, ghostwriting, or a mix of the two should be more than willing to direct you to their reviews and prior client testimonials before you take the plunge.

Don’t be afraid to ask for references and be sure to request a complimentary sample edit with someone before signing anything or paying anything. Any reputable editor should offer a free sample edit (Midnight Publishing will provide one for your first 1,000 words!), with no strings attached so that you can see their expertise in action. If anyone balks at this legitimate request, then move on to the next one—or hire us!

Midnight Publishing has been serving clients since 2007, and we are extremely passionate about providing professional-quality editing and ghostwriting for every client we work with. Contact us today for a free sample edit! We’ve been trusted with over five million words so far—find out why today.