So, you think you’ve found the perfect editor for your project — they have stellar reviews, have worked on a plethora of major projects for some big-name clients and all their social media pages are popping. You think to yourself, “this is the one.”
But are they, really? How do you know you’ve found, “the one?” Every editor varies in terms of how they approach projects, but luckily there are a few specific things you can look for when it comes to shopping around for an editor for any project.
1. Are they familiar with your subject area? (And more importantly, if they aren’t, are they willing to do a bit of research?)
Editors may not always be familiar with the subject area of the document they’re editing, but a good editor does not shy away from research. Partnering with an editor who is not familiar with your subject area presents the risk of impacting the accuracy and validity of your content. However, you can expect an easier process if you hire an editor who is willing to become an expert – this person is more likely to find the best way to communicate your message. This is especially important to consider if you work in higher ed.
2. Do they charge a flat fee or an hourly rate?
Based on your budget, this is another very important question to ask. While some editors can adjust the way they charge based on the project, some have much more strict ways of charging clients for the work, regardless of the scope of work or type of project.
For example, if you’ve established that your editor is in fact ok with doing a bit of research to ensure they have a firm grasp of the subject matter, since this is typically a more time-consuming task, you’ll definitely want to establish whether there will be an additional fee included for research or consider the additional hours it may take if you choose to go the hourly rate route.
If research is involved, it may make more sense to go with an editor who is open to charging hourly rates, as the amount of time needed to do proper research and ensure they have a strong grasp of the context of the text may vary quite a bit.
3. Can they quickly grasp your voice and tone and actually edit from that perspective?
This is another reason why it’s so important to find an editor you truly “vibe” with. Especially for writing projects such as scripts, speeches, memos and the like. It’s almost impossible to have the finished product sound like it came from you if the editor can’t effectively capture your voice and tone. Good editors will attempt to get to know their clients on a semi-personal level or via candid casual conversation, if only for this reason alone.
They should be able to get a good enough sense of who you are so that when they read your writing, their edits still align with how you’d actually communicate.
4. Personal Fit (Is their feedback constructive or destructive?)
Yes, it matters! Trust me. The last thing you want is to end up with an unsupportive editor or an editor who chops your work into minuscule pieces without even blinking. The editing process can be tough, and at the end of the day, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your writing, so you want it to be handled accordingly. A good editor understands how attached clients can be to their work so they try their best to approach your work with a touch of compassion in a way that nurtures rather than tears down.
Good editors give you feedback to help improve your overall writing because at the end of the day, the goal is for you to become empowered through the editing process — not to feel dejected afterward.
Again, just make sure the vibes are there. You can filter out candidates by asking how they’d describe their editing process or how they like to conduct the editing process. Is it a collaborative effort where the editor makes suggestions before making actual edits? Or do you just send your work in and have it come back, without much room for discussion, negotiation, etc.?
Are they flexible with time? Are they based in the US or overseas? What time zone are they located in? If you’re in the U.S. and on a tight budget, it may be cheaper to hire overseas, but the quality may suffer, especially if they are not native English speakers.
Depending on the intended purpose of your project, it may make sense to go with a cheaper option, especially if your primary concern is getting a large volume of content edited fairly quickly and perhaps a few typos here and there aren’t a major concern, and you’ll only need a good proofreader to glance over it one last time before publishing, but for more high-level documents or projects, I’d suggest you increase your budget a bit to get the quality results you want.
There are many considerations to weigh when hiring the perfect editor, but with the proper preparation, the choice should not be hard! Written Works is a boutique publishing house for copywriting, editing and proofreading services. To us, stories are more than novels and self-help books. Your story is your brand. This is why we strongly believe in building strong brands through well-written works. Whether you need help writing, editing or proofreading a document of any kind, we’re here to help. Contact us to get started on your editing needs.