If you create content in any capacity, you’d benefit from working with an editor. Books and journalism, corporate and nonprofit communications, academic or government publications, blogs and social media content—written words always benefit from having another pair of trained eyes on them.
Types of Editing
Guild members offer many different services, including these basic types of editing. Some of our members are skilled in several types, while others specialize in one or two.
Working with an Editor
The key to a good working relationship with an editor is knowing what to expect.
To keep the project on schedule, be responsive to your editor’s e-mails, calls, or requests for further information.
Promptly let your editor know of any changes to the scope of work or schedule.
If working in stages, you and the editor may want to have a conference after each stage to review progress, concerns, and logical next steps.
Editors often require payment upon completion of each stage.
- your edited project files in the agreed-upon format
- a style sheet outlining any decisions made on style, spelling, and so on
- a summary of any global problems or queries, along with suggestions for addressing them
- an invoice for the work
Most editors expect to be paid upon completion of the project or within thirty days.
Searching for an editor
It’s best to begin your search well in advance of your desired start date; experienced independent editors are often booked two to six weeks in advance.
Be sure to look for an editor who is experienced in the specific type of editing that you need.
The Northwest Independent Editors Guild can help you find an editor in two ways:
- You can search our member directory for editors with the skills and expertise you need, then send them a description of your project and ask if they are available and interested. (If you are sending inquiries to several editors at once, it’s a courtesy to let them know.)
- You can post your project description on the Guild’s job board and have interested editors contact you.
If you’re looking for an editor in another part of the United States, consider the following searchable online directories of editors:
- American Copy Editors Association (national)
- American Society for Indexing (national)
- Editorial Freelancers Association (national)
- Bay Area Editors Forum
- Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (national)
- Cambridge (MA) Academic Editors Network
- San Diego PEN (Professional Editors Network)
- Twin Cities PEN (Professional Editors Network)
- Western New England Editorial Freelancers’ Network
You can meet editors face to face at writing and editing conferences and meetings, including those of the Editors Guild; our conferences and most of our meetings and social events are open to all.
You can ask other writers for recommendations.
You can consult the acknowledgments or credits of books or publications you admire to see if they mention the editors, then look them up online.
It’s helpful to include the following information in inquiries to potential editors or posts on a job board.
- Subject matter and/or brief description of the work
- Word count
- Your budget for editorial work.
- Your desired start date and due date. Include time for the planning, contracting, and communication that may be needed before the actual editing gets under way.
- Your preferred style manual, if any. If you have no preference, your editor can offer guidance in selecting the style best suited for your project.
- Type of editing, such as developmental editing, copyediting, or proofreading. If you’re not sure, see What Type of Editing Do I Need?
- Any specific concerns or potential problems, such as repetition, inconsistencies of tone or character, or variations in voice due to multiple authors
- Any special editorial services, such as fact-checking or rewriting
You may wish to include a short sample of your work with your inquiry, or editors may request one. A sample helps editors evaluate whether your project is a good fit for their skills and experience, and can also help them prepare a more accurate cost estimate.
Some editors will edit a short sample at no charge and return it to you; this can show you what to expect and help you judge whether they have the necessary skill and understanding of your project.
- Experience. Has the editor worked on publications or with organizations you have heard of and respect? You may want to review the editor’s website, LinkedIn profile, or résumé. You may also wish to ask for references from prior clients.
- Accessibility. Is the editor sufficiently responsive to your communication?
- Cost. Can the work be done within your budget? It’s always a good idea to discuss project costs and billing practices. Note that unrealistically low rates may indicate inexperience; as one guideline, here’s a list of common editorial rates compiled by a professional editorial association.
- Compatibility. Will you enjoy working with the editor? An initial face-to-face meeting may help you assess this, or you may be content to communicate entirely via e-mail, phone, and/or Skype.
How Much Will it Cost?
A client’s first question when contacting an editor is often “How much do you charge?” or “How much will it cost?”
It’s rarely possible for an editor to give an immediate answer other than “It depends,” because it does depend—on a number of factors:
- The complexity of the material to be edited (a technical report, a novel, an article for an academic journal, a museum exhibition catalog, and a poster for children all differ)
- The type of editing to be done (e.g., developmental editing versus copyediting)
- The level of edit needed (light, medium, or heavy)
- The tightness of the deadline
Some editors charge by the hour, others by the page or by the word. Some charge a flat project fee or ask you your budget.
Most editors will ask to see a sample of the manuscript before setting a fee. This is to assess how much work the manuscript requires and how long the editing is likely to take.
Editors are educated professionals, and their services merit compensation commensurate with their skills and experience. The rate chart maintained by the Editorial Freelancers Association provides a useful minimum baseline for different types of work; many established editors charge more than what the EFA lists.
Once you and your editor agree on a fee, many editors will ask you for a deposit before beginning, with the rest paid upon completion.