Hiring an Editor: What To Look For

After self-editing your writing it is time to begin looking for an editor. It is important to choose the right editor for your style because the final state of your writing is going to be put into their hands. Working with the wrong editor is not only a costly mistake, but can lead to heartbreak when you do not feel good about the final result of your book. The right editor’s advice should help you achieve the true voice and story you hoped for. So if you’re ready to hire and work with an editor you should consider the following evaluation topics and points.

Types of Editors

Copy– fact checking, novel readability, smooth and consistent

Line– punctuation, verb tense, grammar, spelling

Content– big picture, plot holes, wandering timelines, lagging pace

You can usually find someone that does both copy and line editing, however, it is rare to find someone who does all three. This is why you should try to find an actual content editor, before hiring a copy or line editor. Content editors will help improve your story as a whole and make sure that it flows properly, which is extremely important in writing and especially in book writing.

Look for Someone with Experience

Choose a skilled and qualified editor, do not just choose someone who has a degree in English or Writing. These individuals do not have the academic credentials or experience that a qualified book editor will have. You can ask an editor the following questions to get a better idea about their experience.

  • What types of books have you edited (fiction, nonfiction, etc.)?
  • What is your writing and editing background?
  • What are your major editing accomplishments?
  • What is unique about your editing process?
  • What types of books do you enjoy working with?
  • Prior to signing a contract, can you edit one chapter?
  • What makes you a good fit for my manuscript?

Find Out Which Publishers the Editor Works With 

Every editor you consider working with should have a list of books they have edited and publishers they have worked with. Make sure to look into what types of books they have edited. Are these books self-published? If so, there is nothing wrong with self-published books, however, it is a red flag if they have never edited with a publishing company. To earn the official title of an editor you must earn it through three years of experience with a publishing company. Anyone else may be considered a freelance editor and will most likely not help you as much as an official editor could.

Ask How Many Authors the Editor Typically Works for in a Given Month

Editing is extremely time consuming, so if you want an editor who will carefully read your writing, do not hire someone who edits more than three books a month. Any more than that and they don’t have sufficient time to be thoughtful during their editing process.

Ask for the Editor’s Fee Schedule 

If their rate is too low it may mean inexperience. If it too high they may have many customers or best sellers, and are able to charge more because people can rely on their service. However, it is not uncommon to find an experienced editor at a standard reasonable rate. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and speak to their other or previous clients about  specific editors’ rates and how they match up to their services. For a good content editor you should be paying around 2 to 6 cents per word. Check out this chart containing editors rates

Have Beta Readers

If you ever disagree with an editor it is important to have beta readers. This is because they can give you a good idea about how to handle comments from your editor. If your editor comments something you do not agree with then see what the beta readers said. If they mention the same issues, concerns, or changes, as the editor did, then you may want to listen to that advice. If they did not touch on the the issues the editor pointed out, and you are unsure whether or not to listen to the editor, the best thing to do is sit down with the editor and discuss why they made that change. See if you can get more of an understanding to settle your disagreement. The goal of an experienced editor is to help you write the best book possible. Comments are based on their experience and should not be seen as a personal attack on your writing. 

Ask for a Sample Edit

Currently for around $25, or sometimes even for free, you can have an editor complete a sample edit of the first chapter of your book. This sample edit will help you see if you like their editing style and to also see if they seem enthusiastic about your book. If they offer insight and new reasoning then they potentially are a great fit for you, because they are already showing interesting in your book. Having interest is huge, because if they seem like they do not care then they probably will not put as much time and effort into reading and editing as they will when interested or intrigued.

Look in the Right Places

Searching google isn’t always the answer. Sometimes the best approach is to ask for referrals. By asking friends, colleagues, and other writers who they recommend, you are more likely to get someone who is great at what they do at a reasonable rate.


Hiring an editor is a much more lengthy and difficult process than people realize. Maryanna Young of Aloha Publishing states, “don’t sign a contract with an editor until you have worked with them on a sample chapter. It should either really work or go ahead and find another editor”. If you follow this advice as well as the advice about hopefully you will be able to find the perfect editor for your needs!







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