The Top Ten Things to Look for Before You Hire a Freelance Editor

by Annina Luck Wildermuth

You’ve completed a draft of your book and want professional help with taking it to the next level. Plenty of freelance editors provide this service, but how do you know who is right for you? Sangeeta Mehta and Maya Rock presented a concise overview of the “freelance editing ecosystem” on June 14 for the last Tuesday Professional Series before Summer break.

So what are the top ten things to look for before you hire a freelance editor?

First, check their experience.  Have they worked on projects similar to yours? What about their clients? Do they have recent experience at a publisher or an agency? Sangeeta suggested that this could be important. Do they have expertise in the genre you write? Check for testimonials and membership in professional affiliations. For instance, both Maya and Sangeeta are members of the Editorial Freelancers Association. There is also a section in The Book by SCBWI that lists freelance editors.

Next there’s financial compatibility and clarity of terms to consider. Many editors, including Sangeeta and Maya, list their rates right on their website. It is often a range of rates, and you can certainly ask for a breakdown. How long will the work take? Does this rate include some follow up emails or phone calls? Decide on the terms beforehand. What percent is payable on agreement and what on delivery? Don’t be afraid to ask if they offer a discount or special rate, especially if you come back with another project.

Clear communication and honesty/transparency are also important things to gauge. How do you want your points delivered? Would you like to chat on the phone? Do you prefer email? Each editor will have his or her own style, so you also want to think about personal chemistry to ensure a good working relationship.

What kind of editing style do you like? Sangeeta revealed that she likes to present her editorial comments with plenty of  suggestions and choices. Another editor might put the hammer down. Technological compatibility is also important to establish. Do you like to work from hard copy? Or are electronic track changes ok.

Before taking questions, Sangeeta and Maya concluded with a discussion of ancillary skills, services a freelance editor might offer in addition to editing your manuscript. For instance, Maya, in a nod to her agenting days, offers a Yes/No service where she will read your work and tell you if she thinks an agent would accept it.

Both Maya’s and Sangeeta’s websites are well worth checking out on all these points and much more:  &

Happy Summer everyone and looking forward to more Tuesday Professional Series in the Fall.

Annina Luck Wildermuth writes and illustrates picture books. You can see her work at and follow her on Twitter @AnninaLuck

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