Memoirs are powerful narratives recounting the turning point of the author’s life. Crafting a compelling memoir can be cathartic and transformative. However, because the author is so close to the events they are describing, they may need a second pair of eyes to connect with target readers effectively. For this reason, this blog post discusses finding a memoir editor who can assist in evolving a manuscript into a publishable book. To find the right memoir editor, writers should review the editor’s portfolio, ask for a sample edit, turnaround time and price and check if they are a member of an accredited organisation for editors.
What is a memoir?
A memoir is any non-fiction narrative based on the author’s memories. Memoir is a subcategory of biography or autobiography. However, it differs, presenting a narrowed focus, usually a particular period in one’s life or career, often a touchstone moment or turning point. In contrast, a biography or autobiography covers a longer span, for instance, the author’s life story.
What type of editing a memoir might need?
There are several types of editing that prepare a manuscript for publishing. The first process is developmental editing, which looks at the ‘big picture’ of the manuscript and diagnoses any issues with the structure, clarity, tone and flow that the author might be unable to identify. Line editing involves an editor working line by line through your manuscript to discover the words and rhythm that effectively tell the story and bring out the authentic authorial voice. Copyediting acts as a gatekeeper, spotting any issues relating to consistency, correctness and clarity. Proofreading ensures that all spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct and that there are no format and layout issues. It is the final check before publishing your text.
How to find a memoir editor?
Find out the editor’s accreditation
Consider if the editor is a member of a professional organisation, which often offers peer network support, professional development opportunities and codes of practice that their members abide by. So, when you face a dilemma of how to choose a memoir editor, find out if they are a member of such a professional body.
For instance, in the North America, there are:
- Editorial Freelancers Association,
- ACES: The Society for Editing,
- Council of Science Editors,
- Northwest Editors Guild,
- Editors Canada.
In Europe, there are the following associations for editors:
- European Association of Science Editors,
- Mediterranean Editors and Translators,
- Nordic Editors and Translations,
- Society of English-Language Professionals in the Netherlands,
- Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.
Ask for a sample edit, price and turnaround time
When choosing a memoir editor, ask for a sample edit, which is a standard practice in the industry, and it may the best way to get to know the editor’s skills and approach. A sample edit will demonstrate how the editor can help the manuscript and if they are a good fit. It is an opportunity for them to showcase their expertise and estimate what editorial intervention the text requires. As mentioned earlier, there are different types of editing.
Understanding the needs of the text will help them provide a quote for their services and assess the turnaround time. This way, before choosing an editor, the authors can understand what the editor does, how much it will cost and when they will deliver the edited memoir.
Check the editor’s portfolio
Checking if the editor’s portfolio can verify if the editor has previous experience working with memoirs. If they specialise in editing horror novels, they might not be the best choice for a memoir. They should have a portfolio on their website or online platforms for publishing professionals, such as Reedsy or Upwork. The portfolio should be verifiable, ideally with hyperlinks to where the books they worked on are sold or reviewed (publisher’s page, Discovery, Google Play, Amazon or Apple Books).
Read the testimonials
Looking for testimonials from previous clients who worked with the editor can help make hiring decisions. Their feedback can reveal the quality of the editor’s work and if they met the project requirements. It is essential to notice if the authors who provided the testimonials can be contacted or verified as real people. It cements the editor’s credibility if they provide full names and contact details of their past clients.
After reading about how to check the editor’s portfolio and accreditations and getting a sample edit, price and turnaround quote, writers can compare the candidates and choose an editor most suitable for a memoir.
If you are still unsure, here are some ideas for additional questions to ask when hiring an editor. You can also ask me for a free sample edit (and remember to use my early bird discount). If you want to hear more from me, including self-editing and writing tips, follow me on Mastodon, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or join my newsletter.