How to Hire a Freelance Editor in 5 Easy Steps: Step 1

Initially you may find contracting with an editor to be intimidating. Like so many things, however, once you know how to do it, you discover it really isn’t so mystifying after all. I’ve broken the process into five easy steps covered in five posts. In this post we start at the beginning: finding editors.

Step 1: Gather the names of editors you think you want to work with.

Where do you get the names of editors? Start with other writers you know who have worked with an editor. Ask if they liked their editor,  and if they answer in the affirmative, get the editor’s contact info. If you don’t know any writers personally who have worked with editors, ask around at any writing or publishing groups you can find. You may be surprised by what you can turn up.

Still nothing? Check the Internet for databases connected to writing, editing, or publishing associations. Editorial Freelancers Association, for example, is a highly respected organization with an expansive listing of editors and other publishing professionals. MediaBistro, too, maintains an extensive searchable database of all kinds of freelancers. If you happen to be in the UK, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders has a very nice site as well. Some associations may require you to become a member before viewing their list of editors, but most do not.

Also available to you are online, commercial databases that aren’t connected to any association, such as Freelancer.com, eLance.com, and others. These are good sources for finding lots of editors, but be sure to vet your editor before hiring. Because of the nature of these sites, where editors are bidding on your project to ensure you the lowest price possible, you are not assured of the highest quality. (How to vet your editor is covered in steps 2 and 4.)

Alternatively, you may simply search online for “copyeditor” or “proofreader” and see what comes up. This may be a bit of a crap shoot, but if you just need some names to get started, this is one way to do that.

Once you have the names of four to six editors who seem to be worth exploring further, you are ready for Step 2: Research your potential editor.

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Step 2: Research your potential editor.

Step 3: Call or send an e-mail to your potential editor.

Step 4: Ask for a sample edit, cost estimate, and scheduling information.

Step 5: Evaluate what you have learned, then add the crucial element of personality to decide if this is the right editor for you.

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5 thoughts on “How to Hire a Freelance Editor in 5 Easy Steps: Step 1”

  1. Great entry. So many of our editing clients are through referral because, as you say, it can be intimidating to find and hire the right editor. Unfortunately, sites like eLance and Freelancer have watered down the industry with poor quality, and they’re often the first sites to come up in Google searches. It’s very important to vet your editor.

    Looking forward to Step 2.

  2. Thank you, Katherine, and yes, vet your editor! Although, I have seen work by editors that were recommended and have been horrified by their work. Maybe get a sample edit and a second opinion…

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