Beyond general qualifications and the practical concerns, you must consider one final factor before hiring a freelance editor: Are you and your potential editor compatible? The last step of How to Hire a Freelance Editor in 5 Easy Steps accounts for this, the personal side of editing.
Step 5: Evaluate what you have learned, then add the crucial element of personality to decide if this is the right editor for you.
The ultimate determinant in whether you have found the right editor for you and your project is something I call workability. Workability encompasses the editor’s qualifications, editing style, time allowed for each client, as well as general personality traits. These four criteria can make the difference between a good editing experience and a bad one.
If you have been following this blog, you have much of the information you need to assess these criteria. In steps 1 and 2, you gathered the names of editors and researched their qualifications. In steps 3 and 4 you contacted an editor, found out more about his or her qualifications, received a sample edit, and discussed scheduling. Now evaluate what you have learned of the editor’s personality, and you will know whether this is the editor for you.
The following checklist may help you in your decision making:
- Qualifications: If the editor hadn’t passed this hurdle, most likely you would never have taken the process beyond step 2. At this point you will need to consider the other factors more carefully. However, you should ask yourself this one question: “If I’m unsure about one of the editor’s changes to my manuscript, would I feel comfortable deferring to his or her expertise?” If you don’t trust your editor’s qualifications, you will have a difficult time throughout the editing process.
- Editing style: Look back at the sample edit you received. What was your gut reaction? Were you turned off? What did you think of the queries presented to you? Did the editor give you something to think about? Did you appreciate the new perspective or did you feel this person was missing the point? How strictly did the editor adhere to the rules of grammar? Was this approach appropriate for your topic and genre? If you find a disconnect in the sample edit, you will likely find the same in the full edit.
- Time: Although you may think this editor would be great for your project, consider, does he or she have the time to devote to you and your project that you want or need? For example, do you want someone who can meet with you on a regular basis to discuss the editing, or are you content with a few e-mails or phone calls throughout the process? Do you feel the editor is simply squeezing your project in between other, more important work, or are you confident your manuscript will receive the attention it requires?
- Personality: Is your potential editor too formal or too casual for your liking? Do you have similar personalities, sensibilities, and senses of humor? Do you foresee any conflicts? If you have communicated with your editor only over e-mail, I recommend scheduling at least one phone call so that you can evaluate this key factor more accurately. (Editors are trained to write in diplomatic and friendly terms, after all.) You do not need to be best friends with your editor, but the editing process, especially for new writers, can be very emotional. Finding an editor you can relate to on a personal level will help make the experience much more pleasant.
As I have said previously, a bad editor can do more damage to a manuscript than no editor at all. But that is no reason to skip editing! Instead, you must put in the work to find a qualified editor who fits your needs. It may take some time, but in the end, it can be accomplished fruitfully in 5 easy steps.