I can’t help but noticing a new plague on social media related to writing and books. The number of people professing to be competent editors seems to be increasing exponentially every day. Well, why not? If you have tried writing and have failed, why not diversify and try to make a quick buck by becoming an editor? You know the old saying, ‘If you can’t do it, teach or preach it.’
Now this may sound quite harsh, but to be totally honest, many, and perhaps most of those who profess to be professional editors on social media sites are indeed not. When I’ve asked some about their understanding of defining clauses, the use of the gerund, what style of dialogue punctuation they favour or which Style Guide they use, they usually give up and ignore my questions.
In my own case, and with the qualifications I hold in English and English language teaching, I could probably quite easily add the letters that I’m entitled to add after my name and advertise my services as an editor. But I’m not qualified to be an editor in any way whatsoever. Perhaps I would make a decent proof reader but that’s a far as I would go.
If you are a writer and are looking for professional help to polish your writing, you should of course look at hiring a good editor. But before handing over your hard earned money, maybe it’s worth asking a few relevant questions. First would be what qualifications the person holds and can you verify them. Then what experience they have had and who they have worked for. Perhaps some books they have edited that you can read. Secondly, what does your prospective editor intend doing for the money? If it’s just to correct your text, that’s simply proof reading and you can probably find a friend who’ll do that for next to nothing. A good editor won’t mind you asking what style they intent applying to your manuscript and how they intend to maintain a clear voice through your story. If your potential editor only intends to correct your spelling and grammar, move on fast.
If you are looking for a qualified editor, expect to pay a considerable sum of money because it’s not a quick and easy job and highly specialised. They are also very busy people and few of them have the time to rant and rave on social media and blogs all day long. So be careful and be selective.