Hiring a freelance editor is a good investment, especially for those who self-publish. An unbiased, professional assessment can make your manuscript shine. But, before you plunk down a lot of money, make sure your investment will pay off by taking the time to choose the right editor for you.
My last post How to Find a Freelance Editor explained the types of editing and suggested some sources to find one. (Here is one more source that bears mentioning and was not included in the original post: The Christian Pen)
After you gather several names as possible candidates, prepare yourself for the process. Take some time to clarify your project. Know exactly what you are writing. Determine the qualities you are seeking in an editorial partner. Before you make the first phone call or email, you should be ready to communicate these facts to any prospective editor:
Your subject matter.
A brief description including the genre, word count, and even potential audience.
Desired start and completion date.
Preferred manual style, if any.
Type of editing.
Once you are ready, it is time to engage your potential editors and begin the process of selection. The initial contact may be a phone call, email, or even snail mail. During this process, let me introduce what I call the “Five C’s” to finding an editor.
#1 Compatibility. The fundamental qualifications of an editor should fit your needs. Do they edit in your genre? Are they proficient in the type of editing that you need? What is your first impression of the person? Does their personality seem to be a good fit for you? First impressions are telling and allow you to sift out any candidates that feel wrong. Editor A may work well for a friend, but editor B may be more suitable to you personality. It’s OK to check people off of the list because they “feel” wrong.
#2 Convenience. Editors may be booked for months in advance. Can you wait? You should know your time frame, their availability, and decide if the two mesh. You may also want to ask about how they will edit—on a hard copy of your writing or an electronic copy. What is your preference? How many times will they edit your material?
#3 Communication. How you communicate with your editor also plays a role in selecting the best fit for you. Will the feedback and conversation be electronic? How often will you discuss the material? Will your conversations be phone calls, SKYPE calls, or other online services? If you/the editor is unfamiliar with a certain preferred format, is there a willingness to learn and accommodate each other?
#4 Cost. Make sure you communicate your budget to the potential editor. Ask for their proposal of costs. Editors charge in several different ways—by the piece as one lump sum, by the page, and sometimes by the word. You are getting ready to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Be sure to define the limits of what you are willing to pay. The Editorial Freelance Association lists their recommended rates for their members to charge.
#5 Credentials. Editors are diverse. Take a look at their website, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or résumé. What kind of credentials and experience do they have? Don’t be afraid to ask for a previous client’s recommendations or an example of their editing. You and the prospective editor may decide upon a trial edit, a few pages to test the waters.
The final decision is yours. Only you can determine the deal breakers. When the Five C’s seem to line up, have faith that you have made the best decision possible and move forward. Coming together is a beginning and working together brings success.
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