AHA · Authors Helping Authors · Publishing

“Finding the Right Editor: Positive, Not Punitive” by Lori Stephens

Woman on ComputerLook for the editor who encourages you to excellence. You’ve finished your book, but before you send it off to a publisher or self-publish, you want to be sure that it is professionally edited, so you go shopping. There are just as many book editors as there are writers and publishers, so what can help you in your search? How do you narrow down the list of choices? Here are some of the traits to look for.




Rapport can make or break the writer/editor relationship—and it is a relationship. You are working together to produce the best writing possible, the writing that reflects your unique story and voice, and it truly is a partnership. One partner has discovered/created the gem stone, and the other provides the expert polish. A good working relationship requires healthy communication that demonstrates, from the first call or email, that both parties say what they mean and mean what they say. That first contact sets the tone, and your gut reaction will tell you whether you feel comfortable or wary.


I have experience as a dog trainer and know that all creatures—dogs, humans, animals of any kind or any species—function better when given direction that is positive and friendly. They move toward rather than away. Who wouldn’t?

Does the potential editor seem like a positive person? Someone who looks for the best in people? Or does he or she sound rushed, irritable, brusque or even cranky? If so, keep looking. Even if the individual is an extraordinary editor whose field of expertise matches your genre, keep hunting, especially if you are a fledgling writer. Stay away from depressing, angry people. The editing process will be miserable. Life is too short.


Find an editor who is an “inspirarian” (yes, I coined the term)—one who teaches you, coaches you, and helps you to become a better writer. Maybe even a better person! Think of the best teacher you ever had. She or he most likely pushed you while cheering for you, drew out the best in you, helped you to pick yourself up when you stumbled, and was always fair and supportive.

The right editor can be your “life coach” on your road to authorship. The right editor is brutal on your text—the Anne Robinson of The Weakest Link, the Gordon Ramsey of Hell’s Kitchen, the Hannibal Lecter of prose (pick your favorite villain)—but, when working one on one with you, is an Oprah Winfrey, a Wayne Dyer, a Tony Robbins. The right editor brings a positive drive, an “I can do this!” enthusiasm to your writing journey, and proudly stands by your side all the way. The right editor holds onto the side of the bike as you’re learning and, when you’re ready, lets go, allowing you sail on your own with confidence.

~~~~~~~~~~~Lori Stephens, pNLP, CCP has mastered an approach to developing book manuscripts that blends high organization, clarity, and intuition. Her skills have been honed through experience with clients ranging from indie authors to Fortune 500 corporations. Her forte is working as the writer’s coach and “inspirarian,” and she says, “I take the time to understand the tone and message of your writing as well as its marketing strategies–in this way, I align precision with purpose.” She is the owner of Verbatim Editorial and has published four books.  Lori is a member of the freelance team at www.theprobookeditor.com.

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