Frequently Asked Questions

What is an independent editor?

An independent editor—sometimes called an outside editor or a book doctor—works with you to write or rewrite, shape or reshape your book proposal or manuscript in order to help you achieve your publishing goal, whether it be to find a literary agent or publisher, or to self-publish. Some of them also work as ghostwriters.

Why work with an independent editor?

Literary agents and acquiring editors in today's publishing houses are busy people. Whether you're a first-time or a previously published author, it is useful to hire an impartial, experienced editor who will read and closely evaluate your work. IEG members can help you craft and perfect your proposal or manuscript so they stand out. They know what agents and publishers are looking for. Many of our clients have found that working with a skilled and supportive editor has made the difference in achieving their goals.

Why hire an IEG member?

The Independent Editors Group is the premier professional affiliation of New York City-based freelance editors, book doctors, and ghostwriters who work with writers, editors, publishers, and literary agents in trade book publishing. Our members are former senior and executive editors, editors-in-chief, and publishers--deeply experienced professionals who know how today's literary agents and editors think and what they are looking for.

What services can an independent editor provide?

While not all members provide all services, IEG members can help you with:

Manuscript evaluation
Writing and ghostwriting
Proposal development
Project development and management

How do I decide which IEG editor is right for me?

1. Read the editors' bios to learn more about them. Their entries list the book categories they have experience or interest in that will likely correspond to what you are working on. For instance, if you are writing a diet and fitness book, you will want someone with experience working on similar books. Beyond that, as each editor tells you something about himself or herself, it is important to consider that compatibility is key to a successful working relationship.

2. Select those editors you are interested in working with and send each a brief query email that reads something like:

"I have written a memoir/cookbook/novel, but feel that I need advice and input from an experienced editor who can tell me if I'm on the right track. Attached is a brief outline/synopsis of my book. If you are interested in discussing this project, perhaps we can have a telephone conversation so I can learn more about your services. Thank you for your time."

The independent editors you contact will respond by email or telephone. Ask them about the process and how they will work specifically with you. What you're looking for is someone who understands your project, has a vision of how it can be improved, and with whom you feel you can comfortably work. If an IEG member is unavailable, or feels that he or she isn't the right person for your project, he or she will gladly refer you to another member in our group.

Will an independent editor help me find a literary agent or publisher?

An independent editor will work with you to make your proposal or manuscript as strong as the two of you together can possibly make it. IEG members do not, however, provide placement services with agents or publishers.

What about self-publishing?

Several IEG members have extensive experience with authors who have self-published their books. They can demystify the self-publishing process; help you identify and evaluate publishers, designers, copyeditors and other service providers; and be your partner in navigating the often bewildering process of self-publishing.

I'm worried that someone will steal my idea. Can I trust an independent editor?

While titles and ideas cannot be copyrighted, IEG members assure complete confidentiality.

What are the fees for services?

Each IEG member has his or her method for determining fee structure. Some will quote a flat fee, others an hourly or page rate, or royalty participation for collaboration or ghostwriting. If you decide to engage an independent editor, he or she can draw up a brief letter of agreement outlining the editor's duties, payment, and anticipated delivery date. Independent editors usually require a partial payment before starting any project.

How can I learn more about the publishing process?

No book or online resource can provide the detailed comments, direction, strategy, and individualized attention an independent editor provides. However, the following books and websites are excellent places to learn more about the way the industry works.

book Books:

Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman

Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009: Who They Are! What They Want! How To Win Them Over! 19th Edition by Jeff Herman

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It... Successfully by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner

The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit by Elizabeth Lyon

Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know about What Editors Do by Gerald C. Gross.

mouse Websites:

Agent Query

Writer Beware

Publishers Marketplace

American Society of Indexers