Hiring a freelance editor 2020

Welcome to the comprehensive guide on hiring a freelance book editor. In the journey of transforming your manuscript into a published book, one critical step stands out: editing. Editing is not just about correcting grammar or punctuation; it's an art that encompasses refining the clarity, flow, structure, and coherence of your text, making it resonate with your readers. Whether you're a first-time author or an experienced writer, understanding the value of professional editing is pivotal.

Why consider a freelance editor? The answer lies in the personalized attention and specialized expertise they bring to your project. A freelance book editor can provide targeted feedback, honing your narrative to perfection while maintaining your unique voice. In a world where readers' expectations are higher than ever, a well-edited book is not just an option—it's a necessity for standing out in the crowded publishing landscape.

For a deeper understanding of the editing process and its importance, visit Wikipedia’s article on editing. This resource sheds light on the various dimensions of editing and why it's a critical component of successful writing and publishing.

Let’s embark on this journey together, exploring how to find, evaluate, and work with the right freelance editor for your book, ensuring it reaches its full potential and finds its place in the hearts and minds of readers worldwide.

Understanding the Different Types of Editing

Embarking on the editing process involves more than just a cursory glance for grammatical errors; it's a multi-layered approach tailored to elevate your manuscript's quality at various stages. To harness the full potential of editing, it's crucial to understand the distinct types of editing available. Each type serves a unique purpose, addressing different aspects of your writing to ensure a polished, reader-ready book.

  • Developmental Editing: This is the first deep dive into your manuscript, focusing on big-picture elements such as structure, plot, character development, and pacing. A developmental editor helps shape your narrative, ensuring it's coherent, engaging, and impactful.
  • Copy Editing: After the structural elements are in place, copy editing takes over to refine the language. This stage focuses on grammar, syntax, punctuation, and consistency, polishing each sentence to make your writing clear and professional.
  • Proofreading: The final touch before your book heads to publication, proofreading catches any lingering errors in spelling, punctuation, and formatting, ensuring a clean and error-free manuscript.

Understanding these editing stages is vital for authors, as it guides you in selecting the right type of editing for your book at the right time. It’s not uncommon for a manuscript to go through multiple rounds of editing, with each type of editing building on the last to comprehensively enhance the manuscript's quality.

For authors looking to dive deeper into the nuances of each editing type and how they can transform your manuscript, BubbleCow’s guide on the types of editing offers valuable insights and detailed explanations, providing a clearer roadmap for your editing journey.

Why Hire a Freelance Editor?

In the vast and varied landscape of publishing, the decision to hire a freelance editor can be a game-changer for authors. A freelance editor brings a fresh, professional perspective to your manuscript, an aspect that is often overlooked yet crucial for the success of any book. Here are several compelling reasons to consider this pivotal investment:

  • Personalized Attention: Freelance editors offer a level of personalized attention and dedication to your project that is hard to find elsewhere. They work closely with you to understand and preserve your voice while elevating your manuscript to its highest potential.
  • Expertise and Experience: Many freelance editors specialize in specific genres or types of writing. This specialized knowledge means they can provide insights and suggestions tailored to your book’s specific needs, enhancing its appeal to your target audience.
  • Flexibility and Availability: Unlike in-house editors who juggle multiple projects for their employer, freelance editors can often offer more flexible timelines and are available according to your schedule, making them ideal for projects with tight deadlines or specific requirements.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Hiring a freelance editor can be more cost-effective than going through a publishing company. With freelancers, you can negotiate rates and choose services that fit your budget, ensuring you get the best value for your investment.
  • Objective Professional Feedback: One of the most valuable benefits of hiring a freelance editor is receiving objective, professional feedback. This constructive criticism is essential for growth and improvement, helping you to see and correct flaws in your manuscript that you might have missed.

The journey from manuscript to published book is filled with challenges, but hiring a freelance editor can significantly smooth the path. They not only improve the readability and professionalism of your book but also enhance its chances of success in a competitive market. Investing in a freelance editor is investing in the quality and potential of your book, making it a wise choice for any serious author.

The Right Time to Hire a Freelance Editor

Determining the optimal moment to bring a freelance editor into your writing journey is as crucial as the decision to hire one. Timing can greatly influence the effectiveness of the editing process and, ultimately, the success of your book. Here’s how to recognize when it’s the right time:

  • After Completing Your Manuscript: The most apparent time to hire an editor is once you have a complete draft. This ensures that the editor can see the full scope of your work, providing comprehensive feedback on its entirety.
  • When You Feel Stuck: Sometimes, authors hit a roadblock in their writing process. Hiring a developmental editor at this stage can provide new perspectives and ideas, helping to move the project forward.
  • Before Submission to Agents or Publishers: If you're planning to go the traditional publishing route, having your manuscript professionally edited before submission can significantly increase its chances of being accepted.
  • When Preparing for Self-Publishing: For authors choosing to self-publish, hiring an editor is a critical step in ensuring that your book meets professional standards and can compete in the market.
  • After Receiving Feedback: If beta readers, critique partners, or agents have provided feedback that highlights issues with your manuscript, it’s a clear sign that seeking a professional editor could be beneficial.

Ultimately, the right time to hire a freelance editor depends on your specific needs, goals, and where you are in the writing process. It’s about finding the balance between making the most of your editor’s expertise and ensuring your manuscript is in a state where that expertise can be fully utilized. Waiting until you’ve taken your manuscript as far as you can on your own will allow you to gain the maximum benefit from the editing process.

How to Find the Right Freelance Editor

Finding the right freelance editor for your manuscript can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Yet, with a strategic approach, you can locate a professional who not only understands your vision but can also elevate your writing. Here are steps to guide you in your search:

  • Define Your Needs: Before starting your search, be clear about what type of editing you require. Understanding whether you need developmental editing, copy editing, or proofreading will narrow down your pool of candidates.
  • Research and Recommendations: Start by asking for recommendations from fellow authors or searching through reputable directories and professional editing associations. Social media groups and forums dedicated to writing and publishing can also be valuable resources.
  • Check Editor Qualifications: Once you have a list of potential editors, evaluate their qualifications. Look for editors with a strong track record in your genre, favorable testimonials, and ideally, formal training in editing or a related field.
  • Review Samples and Testimonials: Request sample edits if available. Many editors will provide a short sample edit of your work to showcase their style and approach. Additionally, read through testimonials and reviews from previous clients to gauge satisfaction.
  • Assess Communication and Compatibility: Before making a decision, have a conversation with the editor. This can be via email, phone, or video call. It's important to ensure that you communicate well and share the same vision for your book.
  • Understand the Terms: Finally, make sure you are clear on the editor's rates, turnaround time, and revision policy. A good freelance editor will be transparent about their terms of service.

Finding the right freelance editor is a critical step in the journey to publication. It requires patience, diligence, and a clear understanding of your project’s needs. By following these steps, you’re more likely to find a professional who can bring out the best in your writing, helping your book to shine.

Evaluating a Freelance Editor’s Credentials

Once you've identified potential freelance editors for your manuscript, the next step is to assess their qualifications and experience to ensure they're the right fit. This evaluation is crucial in selecting a professional who will contribute significantly to the quality of your book. Consider the following criteria when evaluating a freelance editor's credentials:

  • Editing Experience: Look into the editor’s background to see how many years they’ve been editing and the types of manuscripts they’ve worked on. Experience in your specific genre or with similar content is highly advantageous.
  • Education and Training: Check if the editor has formal education in literature, language, or a specific editing certification. Though not always necessary, formal training can be a testament to their dedication and expertise in the field.
  • Portfolio and Past Projects: Review the editor’s portfolio or ask for a list of books they’ve edited. This will give you insight into their editing style and the success of the projects they’ve undertaken.
  • Testimonials and References: Testimonials from previous clients can offer valuable feedback on the editor’s performance and reliability. Don't hesitate to contact references directly for a more in-depth understanding of the editor's working style and impact.
  • Professional Affiliations: Membership in professional editing organizations, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) or the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), can indicate a commitment to editorial excellence and adherence to industry standards.
  • Sample Edits: Many editors offer a sample edit of a few pages of your manuscript. This is a practical way to assess their editing style, attention to detail, and compatibility with your expectations.

Evaluating a freelance editor's credentials is a step that requires thoroughness and intuition. The right editor will not only have the technical skills and experience you seek but will also demonstrate a clear understanding of your vision for your book. Taking the time to carefully assess each candidate’s qualifications will ensure that your manuscript is in capable hands.

The Cost of Hiring a Freelance Editor

One of the most common questions among authors is how much it costs to hire a freelance editor. The answer varies widely depending on several factors, including the type of editing required, the editor's experience and qualifications, the length of the manuscript, and the complexity of the work involved. Here’s a breakdown to help you budget for this essential investment:

  • Type of Editing: Different editing services come with different price tags. Developmental editing, which involves comprehensive feedback on structure, character development, and pacing, is typically more expensive than copy editing or proofreading, as it requires a deeper engagement with the manuscript.
  • Editor’s Experience: Highly experienced editors or those with specialized expertise in a particular genre may charge more for their services. However, their insights and feedback can be invaluable to the success of your book.
  • Manuscript Length: Most editors charge by the word or page. Naturally, longer manuscripts will incur higher costs. It’s important to have a clear understanding of your manuscript's length before seeking quotes.
  • Complexity of the Work: Manuscripts that require a significant amount of correction or restructuring may lead to higher costs. Editors might charge more for projects that demand an extensive amount of time and attention.

On average, freelance editing services can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. It’s advisable to request detailed quotes from multiple editors to compare rates and services. Remember, investing in professional editing is investing in the quality and potential success of your book. While cost is an important consideration, the value that skilled editing brings to your work is immeasurable.

For those interested in calculating the potential cost of copy editing, BubbleCow provides a handy price calculator that can give you a rough estimate based on your manuscript’s word count. We do the same for developmental editing with this cost calculator.

Preparing Your Manuscript for Editing

Before handing your manuscript over to a freelance editor, taking the time to prepare it can streamline the editing process and enhance the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the feedback you receive. Here are steps to ensure your manuscript is in the best shape for editing:

  • Self-Edit First: Go through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and clean up as much as you can on your own. This includes fixing any obvious grammatical errors, tightening up loose prose, and ensuring the story flows logically. The cleaner your manuscript, the more the editor can focus on deeper issues rather than surface-level errors. This guide will help with seld-editing your novel.
  • Format Your Manuscript: Ensure your manuscript follows a standard format before sending it to an editor. This typically means double-spacing, using a readable font like Times New Roman or Arial, and ensuring chapters are clearly marked. Check with your editor if they have specific formatting preferences.
  • Clarify Your Expectations: Be clear about what you’re hoping to get out of the editing process. If you have specific concerns or areas you want the editor to focus on, communicate these upfront. Providing a brief for your editor can help align your expectations and guide their focus.
  • Compile Necessary Background Information: If your manuscript relies on specialized knowledge or has a complex backstory, consider providing your editor with a brief overview or background notes. This can help them understand the context and nuances of your work more fully.
  • Be Open to Feedback: Prepare yourself mentally to receive feedback. Remember, the editor’s job is to help make your manuscript the best it can be, which sometimes means pointing out hard truths. Being open and receptive to their suggestions will make the editing process more productive and valuable.

By following these steps, you can create a strong foundation for the editing process. Preparing your manuscript for editing not only respects the editor's time but also ensures that you get the most out of their expertise and insights. Remember, the goal is to make your manuscript shine, and a little preparation goes a long way in achieving that.

Working with Your Freelance Editor

Once you've chosen a freelance editor and prepared your manuscript, establishing a productive working relationship is key to the success of your project. Here are some guidelines to help you collaborate effectively with your editor:

  • Communicate Clearly and Regularly: Open lines of communication are essential. Be clear about deadlines, expectations, and any concerns you have. Regular check-ins can help keep the project on track and allow for adjustments as needed.
  • Provide Complete Materials: Ensure your editor has everything they need to begin work on your manuscript. This includes the full text, any background information, and a clear brief if you have specific areas you want them to focus on.
  • Be Open to Changes: Remember, the goal of editing is to improve your manuscript. Be open to the changes and suggestions your editor makes. While not every suggestion has to be accepted, consider each one carefully and discuss any disagreements with a focus on the manuscript's best interest.
  • Ask Questions: If you're unsure why an editor made a particular change or suggestion, ask them. Understanding the rationale behind edits can help you learn and grow as a writer.
  • Review Edits Promptly: Once you receive edited materials back, review them as soon as possible. This will keep the project moving forward and ensure any questions or concerns are addressed promptly.
  • Express Appreciation: Editing can be a challenging process, and a word of appreciation for your editor’s hard work can go a long way. Recognizing their efforts fosters a positive working relationship.

Working with a freelance editor is a collaborative effort aimed at making your manuscript the best it can be. By following these guidelines, you can foster a productive and respectful working relationship that benefits both you and your book.

After the Edit: Next Steps

Once the editing process is complete, and you have your manuscript back, it’s time to move forward with the next phases of your publishing journey. Here are the crucial steps to take after receiving your edited manuscript:

  • Review the Edits: Carefully go through the changes and suggestions provided by your editor. Understand the revisions and decide which ones to accept. If something isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to reach back out to your editor for clarification.
  • Make the Necessary Revisions: Apply the edits to your manuscript. This might include rewriting sections, clarifying points, or making adjustments based on your editor’s feedback. Take your time to ensure that the final manuscript reflects your vision while being polished and reader-ready.
  • Consider a Final Proofread: After incorporating the edits, it’s wise to have one final proofread, either by yourself, a trusted colleague, or another professional. This ensures that any new changes haven’t introduced errors and that your manuscript is as clean as possible.
  • Prepare for Publication: With a polished manuscript in hand, you can move on to the next steps in the publishing process. This may involve formatting the book for publication, designing a cover, and planning your marketing and distribution strategy.
  • Gather Feedback: If possible, gather feedback from beta readers or peers. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives on how your book resonates with readers and if there are any final adjustments needed before publication.
  • Reflect on the Process: Take a moment to reflect on the editing process and what you’ve learned. Consider how the feedback has shaped your manuscript and how it can inform your writing going forward.

The journey from manuscript to published book is filled with significant milestones, and completing the editing process is a major achievement. By taking these next steps, you ensure that your work is not only polished but also positioned for success in the wider world.

Common Mistakes When Hiring a Freelance Editor

Hiring a freelance editor is a critical step in the publication process, but it's easy to fall into common pitfalls if you're not careful. Being aware of these mistakes can save you time, money, and ensure a productive partnership. Here are some common missteps to avoid:

  • Not Defining Your Needs: Failing to understand the type of editing your manuscript requires can lead to hiring an editor who may not be the best fit for your project. Whether it’s developmental editing, copy editing, or proofreading, knowing what you need is the first step to finding the right editor.
  • Overlooking Experience and Specialization: Hiring an editor without considering their experience in your genre or the specific type of editing you need can result in feedback that doesn’t align with your expectations or the standards of your genre.
  • Ignoring Past Work and References: Not reviewing an editor’s portfolio or reaching out to their references can leave you unaware of their editing style and effectiveness. Testimonials and past projects can offer crucial insights into what to expect.
  • Skimping on Budget: While it’s important to adhere to a budget, choosing an editor based solely on cost can compromise the quality of your manuscript. Remember, editing is an investment in your book’s success.
  • Lack of Clear Communication: Insufficient communication about deadlines, expectations, and feedback can hinder the editing process. Open and ongoing dialogue is essential for a successful collaboration.
  • Not Requesting a Sample Edit: Skipping a sample edit can be a missed opportunity to assess compatibility and understand the editor’s approach to your work. Most editors are willing to provide a short sample edit upon request.
  • Resisting Feedback: Being unreceptive to feedback or defensive about suggested changes can undermine the benefits of professional editing. An open mind and willingness to consider the editor’s suggestions are crucial for improving your manuscript.

Avoiding these common mistakes when hiring a freelance editor can greatly enhance the outcome of the editing process and ultimately contribute to the success of your book. A thoughtful approach to selecting and working with an editor is key to a fruitful partnership and a polished, publication-ready manuscript.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do freelance book editors charge?

Freelance book editors' rates can vary widely based on factors such as the type of editing required, the editor's experience and specialization, the length of the manuscript, and the complexity of the work. Rates might range from a few cents per word for basic proofreading to several dollars per word for in-depth developmental editing. It's common for editors to offer a quote after evaluating a portion of the manuscript to estimate the work involved accurately.

How do I hire a freelance book editor?

To hire a freelance book editor, start by defining the type of editing you need. Research potential editors through recommendations, professional directories, and editing associations. Evaluate their qualifications, experience, and past work. Reach out with your project details to get a quote, and don’t forget to request a sample edit if available. Clear communication about your expectations and a review of their terms of service will help ensure a successful collaboration.

Should you hire an editor for your book?

Hiring an editor for your book is highly recommended, regardless of whether you plan to self-publish or seek traditional publishing. An editor can provide valuable feedback to improve the clarity, flow, structure, and readability of your manuscript, enhancing its overall quality. Professional editing can also increase your manuscript’s chances of success with readers and publishers by ensuring it is polished and free of errors.

Should I send my book to an editor before an agent?

Yes, it's generally a good idea to have your book professionally edited before submitting it to agents. A polished manuscript will make a stronger first impression, demonstrating your commitment to quality and increasing your chances of securing representation. Agents are looking for manuscripts that are not only compelling but also as close to publishable as possible, and professional editing can help you achieve this standard.


Embarking on the journey of hiring a freelance editor is a significant step in the life of any manuscript. It symbolizes a commitment to excellence, showcasing a readiness to refine and polish your work to meet the highest standards of publishing. While the process may seem daunting at first, understanding the different types of editing, recognizing the right time to hire an editor, and knowing how to find and work effectively with one can make a world of difference.

The investment in a freelance editor is not just a financial decision; it's an investment in your book's potential to captivate and resonate with readers. By avoiding common pitfalls and embracing the collaborative nature of the editor-author relationship, you're taking a pivotal step towards ensuring your manuscript's success. Remember, the goal of editing is not just to correct errors but to elevate your work, ensuring that your voice and story reach readers in the most impactful way possible.

As you move forward with your publishing journey, let the insights and guidance shared in this post light your path. The partnership between an author and their editor is one of the most crucial elements in the creation of a book that stands the test of time. Choose wisely, communicate openly, and embrace the editing process as an invaluable opportunity for growth and improvement. Here's to the polished, compelling, and successful publication of your manuscript

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