Hiring a Freelance Editor: A Step-by-Step Guide

This is definitely the eBook age.

So what does this mean for you if you’re one of the many authors who plan on writing and publishing an eBook?

Now, more than ever, you’ll need a freelance editor.

Unfortunately, there’s already a large amount of people who associate eBooks, definitely self-published ones, with a lack of editing (or no editing at all).

Of course, you can ask friends or family to look at your work. Getting their opinions certainly wouldn’t hurt since their input could give you more to consider during the edits. However, there are a lot of downfalls to only turning to people you know.

First, because they may be afraid to hurt your feelings, they’ll probably sugarcoat their comments. Even if you tell them to be honest, that doesn’t mean they won’t hold back.

Then you have to take into account that editing a story involves more than just a couple of general comments. Fiction books essentially need three types of editing – content editing, copyediting, and proofreading – and they should go in that order.

When editing nonfiction books, the focus is usually on formatting, accuracy, copyediting, and proofreading. Whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, the chances of your friend or family member being as well-versed in those forms of editing as a professional editor is low.

How to Get Your Money’s Worth

First, it’s personal. You need to have a tight grasp on yourself and your work before you do any amount of freelance editor hunting:

Since prices can vary so widely, and rates are usually by the hour, you need to know how much money you’re willing to spend.

You need to consider just how rough your work is before submitting. If you’re sending an editor your first draft (which I don’t recommend; it’s always better to at least self-edit first) and the editor charges by the hour, consider how expensive that will be.

Last but not least, you need to know when you’d like the edits back, since a lot of editors will charge extra if you tell them, “Oh, I absolutely need this done in 1 week!”

After getting your money’s worth on your end by understanding yourself, it’s time to get your money’s worth on the editor’s end by understanding them. Hiring someone off of the internet can very easily be disastrous without enough research and investigation, so please don’t waste your money or time because you didn’t stop to learn more. Here is a step-by-step guide to investigating a freelance editor:

  • Explore their website. Check if they have a page for their biography/resume, testimonials, prices, and submission guidelines. If they have helpful content, like articles, skim through a couple.
  • Read their biography or resume and look for the credentials that matter most to you. Said credentials could be a degree, publications or other literary positions.
  • Look at the payment page. If you really don’t think there’s any way you can afford it, you should either go on to another editor or figure out if you can pay in snippets.
  • If the biography or resume impresses you, go to the testimonials page. Even if the biography or resume doesn’t really impress you, go to the testimonials page. Sometimes reading from others about how well that editor did can trump what a bio says.A good testimonials page will have a link or two under each testimonial. This way you can easily contact previous clients and personally ask them what working with that editor is like.If the editor has a sample or two that shows what their edits look like, you should look through those samples. If the editor will edit a thousand words or so of your story either for free or for cheap, take advantage! This is a great way to learn what working with that editor will be like.
  • Whether or not you or the editor has a contract, it’s still very important to make sure you save all conversations and transactions between you two in the chance that something goes wrong.

In conclusion, it’s important you ask for editing assistance once your book is finished. Spending a day or two on understanding yourself, your work, and the editor(s) you’re considering will at least lessen the chances of you choosing someone who is not the right fit for you.

Tiffany T. Cole is the creator of  Reader’s Den, a book blog dedicated to reviews and all things literary.


About the author

Tiffany Cole