Hiring an editor isn’t something to be taken lightly. I hear more frequently than I’d like from clients and acquaintances that the first editor did such a bad job on the document that the writer ended up paying more money to hire a second editor to get it right. Frankly, I’d argue a refund is in order – if you took your car to a garage for repair and it came out with more problems than it went in with, you’d expect your money back. Regardless, though, an editor is providing a professional service, so charges money – your money, so you want to know you’re investing it wisely. Something I’ve learned from various authors though is they find editors so hard to come by they often use the first one they come across.

So you’re sitting with a completed manuscript – or thesis, proposal, article, or whatever other document (I edit all types, not just manuscripts) – and you’re putting Google to good work looking for an editor. Who do you go with? Obvious advice of course applies here – if one has testimonials, positive feedback and good experience, and the other has a near blank website saying “I’m an editor, good rates”, opt for the former. If they both, or all, seem capable and comparable with each other, who do you go with? My new client, Lysa, details this in a recent blog post:

To make a long story short, these are the qualities that I kept my eyes open for:

  • Response time to emails

  • Level of professionalism in the text of the email

  • Flexibility

  • Testimonials from others who hired him

  • Fair pricing to match the services

  • Compatibility


She continued:

I corresponded with this editor for a few months and I knew that he was the best person for the job because of the above qualities. Here is a breakdown of why these qualities are important:

  • You want to be able to rely on the editor’s response time. They need to display to you that they are available regularly to discuss any issues that you may have. If you don’t hear from an editor for more than two weeks when you asked them a pressing question, then you should find someone else for the job.
  • Pay attention to the text in the editor’s emails. Especially the first few. This shows their level of professionalism and it shows you that they take their job seriously. Always keep correspondences professional to avoid any mishaps.
  • Flexibility is important because you want to come to an agreement that works for the editor AND for you. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t meet the editor’s demands if they are not willing to try to accommodate you. I’m not saying to find an editor you can take advantage of. Find one that is willing to have a working relationship with you where you both can come to an agreement.
  • Always look at testimonials to see how skilled the editor is. Go a step further and try to contact a few of those reviewers to see if they are actually real people and to get a better understanding of their experience.
  • Make sure the pricing is also fair for the service. You don’t want to be overcharged. Talk to friends who have had editing services done for them to get a ballpark estimate of how much a service should cost.
  • Compatibility is an important aspect to me. I need to feel a level of comfort and trust in a person’s abilities. You shouldn’t be afraid of your editor.

Lysa’s breakdown makes perfect sense, and it’s the same criteria that we would apply elsewhere too. Which really just goes to show that there should be no confusion when deciding how to pick an editor – use your instinct and these common sense measures to determine how professional and reliable the editor seems, and if you will get along professionally.

It’s also worth asking the editor if they will read a few sample pages, because editors will often find different things ‘wrong’ with a text – sometimes to the point that the author’s voice or intentions are removed, which drastically changes the story. As mentioned above, this is the last thing you want to happen – and unfortunately, not something that would warrant a refund; the editor didn’t do a bad job, they just had a different vision for the story than the writer did.

So pick wisely, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Lots of questions if you need to. Lysa further explained the process of working with me, as a first time author, so make sure you check out the rest of the post and leave a comment for her.