How to Hire an Editor
Do you need an editor? Take this brief self-test.
If you answered Yes, you need an editor.
Okay, that is an oversimplification – but not much. Virtually everything anyone writes for publication needs an outside editor. Even editors need an editor when they write.
Reasons for hiring a freelance editor
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- to provide a written critique of a manuscript to evaluate whether it is ready for publication and identify what needs work
- to polish a manuscript in preparation for submission
- to give the manuscript the best possible shot in light of all the competition for publishers' attention
- to work with the essential story and bring the language and word crafting up to a higher level for writers whose first language is not English
- to help the author with revisions that a publisher has requested after accepting a book for publication
- to copyedit a manuscript that has been accepted by a small publisher that will not fund the editing
Determining what kind of editing you need
Once you decide you want to hire an editor, and you begin the process of shopping around, you will be faced with questions about what you want. It's not quite as simple as saying, "Well, I want my manuscript edited, of course." Editing comes in a menu of levels (not to mention some grey areas between). As with the purchase of any product or service, the better you can communicate your needs in the beginning, the more likely you are to be satisfied with the result.
Click here for a detailed description of the various levels of editing that Dorsch Editorial provides. You don't have to figure out all the details of what you need before contacting a freelance editor, but knowing some of the basics will help in your discussion.
Shopping for an editor
The cost of editing is a significant investment in your work, so you want to be sure you find the right editor for your money.
Ask about such things as training in editing, background in the particular subject area of your project, experience in the type of work you are seeking, and repeat clientele.
Try to get an idea of whether the editor will be good to work with – a good communicator, friendly, patient, having a sense of humour, prompt in returning calls and e-mails. Skill and experience are important, but the quality of the editor-client relationship can make a big difference in your satisfaction level with the project.
Feel free to ask to see work samples or even ask for a small sample edit of your work. Some editors don't do free sample edits, feeling their portfolios or lengthy record of successful freelance editing provide enough evidence of their work. Others will willingly edit a few pages for you if they have time.
Fees will vary from editor to editor. It's hard to find a market average because there are so many variables. But don't be afraid to try negotiating. You might get a "No," but you haven't lost anything. If your budget can't manage the Mercedes level of editing, perhaps the editor can adjust the level of editing to fit your budget.
Most editors will require partial payment in advance, especially from first-time clients. This is standard procedure. It shares the risk. Yes, you risk paying for work that you might never receive (though not likely if you've done your homework on the editor's reputation); but the editor also risks doing work for which he or she might never get paid.
Doing the legwork to find the right editor might seem like a lot of trouble, but it's worth it. A good author-editor relationship is a valuable asset to your writing career.