Here’s what freelance writers should know about hiring editors…

There are writers who are also editors, and then there are writers who are strictly writers. If you happen to be in the latter group, then no doubt you’ve met with some frustration during your writing career when clients send work back for grammatical, etc. fixes.

Now, you’re striking out on your own, be that in the form of a blog/website, or book. Sure, word processing software and various apps go a long way in terms of correcting things like spelling. No matter what technology might tell you, though, professional polish can only come in the form of an actual, human editor. Be reasonable, receptive, and thorough in your research before you make that hiring decision.

There’s more than one sort of editor.

Hiring someone who does general editing to fix what needs fixing so that you can move on to getting your work seen would certainly be the easiest scenario. Yet, that could still leave a lot of room for error (pun intended), especially when it comes to book editing. There are several categories within the editing field:

  • Developmental editing is for when you need the tone and plot evolution critiqued. This might or might not include checking grammar – even if it does, though, it’s not meant to be at a detailed level.
  • Line editing, which is more familiarly known as copyediting, is what you’d want if it’s detailed content consistency, sentence structure/grammar/spelling/punctuation that you’re looking to have corrected.
  • Proofreading means evaluating writing at more of a cursory level for grammar, punctuation, and errors of that nature.

Note that these categories can sometimes overlap each other (with price elevating accordingly), depending on the agreement/contract that you and your chosen editor agree to.

Perfection is a matter of perception.

We’ve all seen articles and books released by major publications that have the occasional typographical error in them. Therefore, hope, but don’t expect everything to be noticed and corrected, no matter how professional the editor you hire is.

Keep in mind that everyone goes into a reading experience with different perceptions of the text. Certain punctuation might help to get your point across, but perhaps your editor feels that certain words should be emphasized more than others – such scenarios merit a decent amount of open, honest discussion to reach the most satisfactory result.

Finding “the one.”

Assuming you’ve already established your budget, there are a bunch of different ways to proceed with the hiring process. You could:

  • Post an online advertisement via freelancing job boards and platforms (beware of high fees and low standards)
  • Utilize your social media networks, with the most applicable in this case being LinkedIn.

As to the specifics beyond a resumé, ask for an editing sample, preferably from work that’s similar to the project you’re hiring for. The more contactable testimonials they have, the better. Never forget that hiring an editor to look over your work should be inspiring, not insulting.

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