Professional book editor in the UK provides 5 clever ways aspiring authors can protect themselves from the theft of their manuscripts when hiring book editors online.
Unfortunately, as mentioned in part 1 of this post, which was about whether there's a possibility that a book editor could steal your manuscript, one of the main reasons aspiring authors never hire a novel editor is because they fear that their hard work will get stolen.
It's an understandable worry, especially if you've never hired a book editor before, but as I've already explained in part 1, there are multiple valid reasons a genuine manuscript editor would never even dream about pinching your novel, even if they thought it has the potential to earn millions.
However, telling you over and over again that we book editors are trustworthy won't get you on our side so easily, so this post - part 2 - will give you 5 ways to actually protect yourself from theft, just to be on the safe side.
1. Request that your editor signs an NDA
The main thing you can do to protect yourself from the theft of your manuscript is to politely ask your book editor if they're willing to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before you send over your novel to be edited.
Either you or the editor can create the NDA, but once it's been signed, it acts as a legal document that will prevent the one who has signed it from stealing or publishing your work for themselves.
I've actually created an NDA that I always agree to sign at my clients' request to ensure that they feel extra comfortable while their manuscript is with me.
If an editor refuses to sign an NDA for you, run for the hills! Even if they know they're trustworthy, they shouldn't expect new clients to have the same level of trust right away, so clients requesting NDAs should only be expected, and you're well within your right to ask.
2. Make sure your editor sets up a contract
I have to admit, during my first year or so as a book editor, I never gave clients contracts to sign because the literary consultancy I used for my novel didn't have me sign a contract, so I naively didn't think to create one.
However, since having a few bad experiences with some clients and researching the legal side of running an online business, I've learnt that sending each new client a contract to sign is the best way forward.
Not only does it protect me and Stand Corrected Editing, but it also protects my clients and acts as a reminder for deadlines, payments & company policies.
There have been a couple of times where the client hasn't signed the contract, probably because they've forgotten, and then it's slipped my mind, but those times don't happen very often, and I do have to remind myself that's just me running this biz, so unfortunately, some things do get forgotten.
Nonetheless, if you're extra worried that a book editor will steal your novel, do make sure they've signed a contract with you that clearly states that they won't nick your work.
3. Check their reviews
If you’ve found a credible-looking book editor online, have browsed through their website and taken the time to scroll through their social media pages but still feel worried that your manuscript could get stolen, consider finding any reviews or testimonials that previous clients may have left after working with them.
For example, they might have a Google review page – you can check mine out here – they may have a dedicated testimonial page on their website or they may frequently repost their glowing reviews on social media.
Either way, their reviews will give you a truthful insight into what the editor in question is like to work with, therefore helping you to trust them even more.
Of course, if there’s a bad review written by an angry client who states that the editor stole their work and published it for themselves, you have every right to avoid them like the plague.
4. Research the published books they have edited
Most editors, unless they’re new to the industry (which isn’t a bad thing), have a page on their website that’s dedicated to the published books they’ve edited – you can view mine here – which should hopefully prove that they don’t make a habit of stealing other people’s stories.
If they don’t have a portfolio on their website, it could just be that they’re a new editor in the industry as mentioned above, or it may be that none of their clients have actually published anything yet, but their reviews would help to prove that they’ve worked with some happy clients, so your best option in that situation would be to refer back to their testimonials.
Alternatively, if the editor you’ve got your eye on is quite pally with their clients on social media, you could even reach out to them individually and ask about their experience working with the editor. You’d then receive a personalised response that isn’t potentially sugar-coated in a review.
5. Investigate any books the editor has written & published themselves
Usually, authors tend to stick to one genre or use a pseudonym if they write more than one, so if you find that the editor you’re thinking of hiring has personally published several books that fall into multiple different genres, that could potentially be a sign that they haven’t written the books themselves.
Of course, a writer can publish a selection of genres, but it’s not too common, so it would be natural to question why so many genres and how they’ve managed to publish that much with a supposed full-time editing job.
However, if the editor in question has published different genres but has a significant number of positive reviews alongside a portfolio of edited works, it might be an idea to politely ask out of curiosity why & how they’ve managed to publish so many different types of books, if they haven’t answered that on their website already.
Thank you for reaching the end of this post! I hope you now feel a little more confident in hiring a book editor for your novel. If you are and you'd like to work with me, click here to get in touch right now!
Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm a professional book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my independent editorial business in the UK. If you would like to have your manuscript thoroughly edited by myself, please get in touch!
With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!