How to Find a Good Freelance Editor

Written by Sheritha Singh | May 25, 2017

When readers purchase a book, they are investing their time and energy in a product they believe is worth their money. The last thing a reader wants to find in a book, especially if it is self-published, is spelling errors, poor content and a manuscript riddled with the incorrect use of punctuation. Hiring a freelance editor can improve the overall quality of the book that’s put on the market, or sent to an agent or editor, and increase a writer’s chances of being represented by an agent or being published.

But how exactly does a writer choose an editor.  A Google search for freelance agents easily yield thousands of results. Editor, Alan Rinzler, suggests writers consider the following factor before choosing an editor:

  1. Get a referral

Ask fellow authors, agents and editors if they would recommend any editors for the genre that you write in. Also consider the time that it takes for the freelance editor to respond to your initial query. An editor who does not respond to emails and keeps a writer waiting should set off the warning bells immediately. A few independent editors list their services and clients (authors) on their websites. Rinzler suggests that writers get in touch with an editor’s clients to obtain feedback on the editor.

  1. Know what type of edit the manuscript requires

Some manuscripts require content editing while other may require a copy editor proofread. It is important to know what type of edit the manuscript requires before choosing an editor.

  1. Research the editor’s track record

Has the editor worked on any books that have been published successfully? Has the editor worked with any reputable publishers? The editor that the writer chooses should have worked with a publisher in the past and should have worked on books that have been successfully published. Writers should also ensure that the editor has experience in the genre the manuscript is written for.

  1. Choose an editor who is part of a reputable and established editing organization

Companies such as Editcetera employ experienced editors who also offer online editing workshops. Edicetera has a strict screening process which ensures that they employ only the best editors. However writers are advised to research an editing company before making a choice.

If a writer is uncertain about whether or not to hire a certain editor, it is advisable to ‘test’ the editor by hiring him / her to edit a few chapters. The writer can then determine whether the edits received are worth their money.

What can a writer expect from a good editor?

A writer who pays for a developmental edit for example, can expect feedback from their editor which involves re-writing, deleting and possibly writing new material. A good developmental editor provides clear, understandable edits with the changes tracked in MS Word. A good editor also provides the writer with the following:

Specific Solutions to certain plot obstacles

A good editor offers specific solutions and avoids vague phrases such as “It’s too long,” “This doesn’t make sense,” or, “This character needs development.” If, for example, a character needs development, an editor might suggest specific solutions such as adding backstory or, a transformation to create a well-rounded character.

Creative Input to improve the writer’s universe

An editor will try their best to immerse themselves in the universe that the writer has created. This enables the editor to further provide suggestions on how the writer can improve the fictitious world and use the writers’ fictional universe to enhance the characters’ personalities and motives. Creative input also helps the editor to guide the writer in order to write according to what the market demands. Editors keep up to date with market requirements and also the media to determine what will sell and what won’t.

Instructs the writer on how to apply the suggested changes

It’s always easier to apply certain changes by providing instructions on how to apply the suggested changes. The editor may also provide an example of what they expect the writer to do when suggesting changes.

Overall an editor should respect the writers they work with. A good editor will always suggest changes and not force them on the writer. And, if a writer is uncomfortable working with a certain editor then it’s time to end the relationship.