6 Questions to Ask When Finding a Freelance Editor - article

So, you’re about to embark on a quest to write the next great American novel. You realize, though, that since you don’t have a publisher, you’ll need to find a freelance editor. Before you begin your search, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I need a copy editor/proofreader only?
  2. Do I want an editor who can help with re-writes and story suggestions?
  3. Do I need help writing my book proposal? Many literary services include proposal writing as part of their service offerings.
  4. Do I want my editor to be a published author?
  5. Am I going to require references from satisfied customers?
  6. How much am I willing to pay?

Once you answer these questions, the next step is to go about finding the editor. Where to begin? There’s an excellent website, run by the Editorial Freelancers Association, that you might want to check out. It lets you search for a member editor by name and/or skill set, with dropdown menus to let you click the specific requirements you’re seeking. It even includes an option for computer hardware and software expertise. Once you receive the results of your search, each name is hyperlinked to the member’s profile. It could not be easier. However, the list is limited to members of the association, so it’s not necessarily exhaustive.

Many times the publishing service provider will offer editing services as a part of publishing packages. This is true at companies like iUniverse and Trafford Publishing. But if you are truly self publishing and not using such providers… or if your provider is more of a print on demand service and less of a publishing service…you may want to check out some other online resources. Here are a couple of websites that you can consult to get the feel for what freelance editors and literary services companies offer. This is not an endorsement of either one, and there are countless others from which you can choose, but both of these sites are well done:

  1. Novel Doctor. A very creative approach to marketing one’s services. This website is informative, creative and humorous, and is worth checking out.
  2. Greenleaf Literary Services. A website with a very straightforward approach to marketing literary services. This is a full service shop, and will give you a good idea as to what’s available.

Don’t forget to also consult friends, read articles and blogs, and communicate with other literary professionals. A good freelance editor should be able to share a verifiable resume and should have referrals. He also should offer a safe and secure way to make payment (PayPal, for example.)

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  • Good question! The difference is subtle but important. A proofreader will ask herself, "Is this text correct?" She should check spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and she should check for accuracy of stated facts. A copy editor will ask those questions, as well, but she will also ask, "Is this text the best it can be?" It is a much deeper, more thorough edit. She might suggest different phrasing for an awkward sentence, for example, or point out inconsistencies in character development or plot. Most manuscripts need both services -- copy editing first, and then proofreading afterward to catch any errors created when the author implemented the copy editor's suggestions. I can't speak to cost, unfortunately. Rates vary by client, by the quality of the manuscript, etc. Hope this helps!
  • I am not sure about the difference between a copy editor and a proof reader. Can anyone clarify for me? Also is there any idea what the expected cost for these services should be? I would welcome any suggestions.