ediquette, n. The etiquette involved in working with (or working as) a freelance editor. Read the entire series here!
It’s almost time to release your novel into the world, and you’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of truly professional service providers, from your editor to your cover designer. If you’re reading this post, you’re probably wondering if you owe your editor credit in your book for the excellent services they provided.
Here’s the thing: You don’t have to give credit to your editor in your book if you don’t want to. If you do want to, though, you should most definitely ask first.
Read on for more about the nuances of giving or not giving credit.
Some editors don’t actually want credit.
The first thing you should do before acknowledging your editor in the finished book is to ask. They may not want their name or their business name in your book at all!
But why not? Why wouldn’t an editor want credit for all the hard work they put into your book? Does this mean you were a bad client or that your book was awful?
Because the author has the final say in how the novel ultimately turns out, the finished book doesn’t always reflect the editor’s actual skill at editing. This is especially true if additional editors or beta readers get involved after the first editor’s work is done. How can other potential clients evaluate the first editor’s ability if other editors or beta readers have been involved? So rather than having the work of many different people reflect back on them, some editors choose not to be credited at all.
If your editor doesn’t want credit, here’s what you can do instead:
Write a testimonial.
Instead of putting those nice words you were going to say about your editor into your book, put them into an email and send it to your editor. Give them permission to use your praise on their website, resume, and social media to promote their editing business. Testimonials are an excellent promotional tool, and your editor will be so thrilled to have a nice one from you!
Let them use a sample from your book in their portfolio.
This is obviously something some writers are more comfortable with than others, and you don’t have to do it if you don’t want, but before-and-after samples are also extremely helpful promotional tools for editors. Give your editor permission to use a page from your book (you can even pick the page, if you want) to show potential clients their editing skills. It’s extremely hard to get portfolio pieces like this because many authors are naturally reluctant to put their unedited work out there, so if you’re comfortable with this at all, let your editor know!
Hire them again for your next book.
Maybe this one goes without saying, but one of the best ways to thank your editor for a job well done is to hire them again! When you start working on your next book, reach out to your editor and let them know you’ll need them again soon. This is also beneficial for you—the more books you work on with the same editor, the better the editor will come to know your writerly habits and preferences, and the better they will be able to edit for you. Win-win!
Tell your author friends about them.
Most editors get the majority of their business from word of mouth and returning clients, so if you really loved working with your editor, and you have friends who you think would feel the same, then share your editor’s name with those author friends! Some editors even do referral bonuses where you and your friend can both get a discount. This is far and away the best way to thank your editor if they don’t want to be acknowledged in the book itself.
Other editors are totally fine with receiving credit.
If your editor says that they welcome being given credit in your book, then go ahead and proceed! Just be careful of a few things:
Unless your editor worked with you in an extremely collaborative way (I’m talking major rewrites to the point that the book is practically as much theirs as it is yours), don’t put their name on the cover. You may have seen editors’ names on covers here or there, and that’s usually because the book is a compilation of some kind that the editor curated and bundled together. Other than these two cases, it’s not usually appropriate to put the editor’s name on the cover. Don’t put it on the copyright page, either—your editor has nothing to do with your copyright once the edits are complete and paid for.
Instead, thank your editor in the acknowledgements section in the back of your book. Your editing contract may even have guidelines on giving credit, like whether to use their name or their business name, whether to include a link, etc. If these guidelines aren’t in your contract and you still want to thank your editor, be sure to send a quick email and check their preference.
Also, please please please triple-check that you’ve spelled your editor’s name correctly! I’ve seen this story play out multiple times on various editors’ forums: The client writes a lovely note of thanks in the finished book, but the editor’s name or business name is spelled wrong, capitalized incorrectly, has the wrong punctuation, etc. This, at best, is a bit embarrassing for you and the editor and then everyone moves on; at worst, it leads to negative reviews or comments directed at the editor. If you’re not sure you can type out your editor’s name correctly, go onto their website and copy-paste it, just to be sure.
Bottom line: You don’t have to give credit to your editor, but if you want to, be sure to ask them first!
Do you have any questions about editorial etiquette? Need an editor for your next novel? Feel free to contact me at email@example.com!