By Dori Harrell
Closing the sale depends on more than delivering a dynamite sample edit—it begins with forming a relationship with an author before he or she even contacts the editor. An editor forms that early relationship by ensuring his or her online presence reflects editorial professionalism, choosing a tone when communicating with authors, and developing strategies for responding to inquiries (see the full blog post, “Closing the Sale Starts Before You Meet the Author,” which outlines these strategies).
To improve your chances of closing the sale on your initial communication with an author, I recommend engaging the author about his or her project, showcasing your skill and passion, and asking questions that promote dialogue. Here are a couple of sample scenarios:
1. Author’s initial e-mail (for a genre you’ve edited):
Hi, Editor. I’m in need of a content editor for my historical Christian fiction novel. My novel is nearly complete and will be about 80K words, and it’s taken me several years to write. I’m hoping to work with an editor with experience in this genre. Would you be willing to take a look at my manuscript to see if you could help me? I’ve attached my first fifty pages, and here’s a brief blurb. I’m planning to publish independently, and this is my first novel.
Sample response (engage the author, showcase your skill and passion, and ask questions):
Hi, Author. Thank you for your interest in my services—I genuinely appreciate it! And congratulations on nearly finishing your novel. That’s an amazing accomplishment.
I’ve edited several Christian historical novels (and I edit for many authors in the Christian Indie Authors Facebook group), so it’s a genre I’m familiar with. I work with debut indie authors regularly, and I enjoy helping them make their stories read as well as, if not better than, traditionally published novels. I’ve recently edited [these three historical novels already published].
Thank you for including the back-cover blurb—it’s definitely intriguing. Nice job on that.
I’d love to hear more about your publishing timeline and your goals for this book. Is it a stand-alone novel or part of a series?
Thanks for also attaching the first fifty pages. I’d be happy to provide a sample edit. I’ll choose a few pages and edit those so that you can get a feel for my style. And I’d be happy to preview the entire manuscript so that I can best determine how I might be able to help you.
I’m looking forward to chatting with you further about your project.
2. Author’s initial e-mail (for a genre you’re interested in taking on but haven’t edited yet):
Hi, Editor. I’ve written a middle grade novel and saw on your website that you work with middle grade authors. I’d like a content edit, and I’m planning to publish traditionally. Would you be willing to provide a sample edit? Do you have published books in this genre that I could preview? I’m planning to publish traditionally and am seeking an agent.
Sample response (engage the author, showcase your skill and passion, and ask questions—but this time, also talk about what you read):
Hi, Author. Thank you for your interest in my services—I genuinely appreciate it.
I would love to hear more about your book. Do you have a blurb you could send me? And is this a stand-alone book, or will it be part of a series?
I’m an avid reader of middle grade novels and just finished [these three MG books], and I’m an experienced content editor and copyeditor. I recently started reaching out to middle grade authors because I’m hoping to build a middle grade portfolio, and I signed another MG author for a project later this year. In addition, I’ve recently edited [these young adult titles].
I frequently help authors with their query letters to agents, and I include that service as part of my content editing package.
I checked out your website—nicely done, by the way. I’m intrigued by your writing style and what I’ve read about your books so far. I’d love to chat a little more about your project, and I’d be happy to provide you with a sample edit.…
Thank you again for contacting me.
I recommend gearing your responses to your editorial tone. It’s vital to tailor each response to an author’s needs and to highlight how your skills can help an author, while engaging the writer in a dialogue about his or her project and goals. Developing an effective approach to responding to inquiries will encourage authors to be sold on you as their editor before you even deliver the sample edits.
Dori Harrell owns Breakout Editing and edits full time. As an editor, she releases more than twenty-five books annually. Her client list includes indie authors, best-selling writers, and publishers. She also serves as a senior editor for a major editing agency. An award-winning writer, she’s published more than a thousand articles.