I approached a few editors, got some sample edits, and tried to get a feel of whether or not we might be a good fit. That's my best advice. It's a little bit of a crapshoot, but at least it's not like being "assigned" an editor when you're with a publisher. You may or may not know this, but I have met and become friends with a few editors. I elected not to pursue a working relationship with them simply because of our friendship. I ended up choosing Harvey Stanbrough. I was totally impressed with his few-page sample edit and believe I'll be able to learn a lot from him.
Why I decided to go indie: There are a few reasons. On one hand there were those hoops you're required to go through on the traditional side. I began to wonder what those "hoop-masters" knew that I didn't, and just who gave them the power to decide. And began to realize that I would be at the whim of both a publisher and an agent—not to mention the tremendous changes occurring in the industry. I've known more than one author who has been "laid off" even in the middle of a contract with a publisher. On the other hand, a year ago this month, I shared a room with L.J. Sellers at the Left Coast Crime conference in Santa Fe. At that time, I'd gone from having my nose in the air about becoming an indie to sitting on the fence. After listening to L.J.'s experience, and learning that she's able to make an actual living off of her writing now, without dealing with any of the traditional middle men, I decided I'd rather take my chances more "face-to-face" with readers. I know some will not like my writing, but I'm hoping others will. There is no gatekeeper. I like that. The readers get to decide. Not some person who has to figure out how to "sell" my story.
There was never any doubt in my mind that I'd want to hire a professional editor—one who can evaluate characterization and plot and any other areas I'm weak in, not just grammar and punctuation. I believe Harvey will fill that bill. Even editors need editors, and writers who think they can just throw something up for sale (even if they think it's perfect) won't succeed in the long run.
With respect to a cover . . . you and I have both seen the homemade covers. They scream amateur and lack of editing. A cover, in the little tiny thumbnail picture that Amazon provides, can make the difference between someone checking out your description or moving on. That's our shelf space. Some people are able to create their own covers, and that's great. I'm creative enough that maybe I could figure things out at some point, but not without a lot of time, effort and potential disaster. So I hired Patty Henderson, at Boulevard Photografica, who has designed some absolutely compelling covers. She's also an author (as is Harvey), and designed both of Andrew E. Kaufman's covers and I fell in love with both of them. Oops . . . all THREE of Drew's covers. He just came out with a short story that I'm betting Patty designed as well. Check out Drew's website at http://www.andrewekaufman.com/ I'm over-the-top excited to see what Patty will come up with for RED TIDE.
One more thing, while I've got your attention. Make your book available in trade paperback. I'm told, but can't confirm it yet, that it's pretty easy through CreateSpace. L.J. tells me that she sells one paperback for every hundred ebooks she sells, but it's still the reader who matters. Through CreateSpace, once she's set up, it doesn't cost her anything additional to sell a book, although her royalties are much less. Still, there are readers who either can't afford an e-reader, don't like reading on their computer, or insist the only way to hold a book is to turn the physical pages.
CR: Darkness on the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black.
It's all better with friends.