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How to Find a Freelance Editor for Indie Authors

Self-publishers often struggle with how to find a freelance editor in their writing journeys; others wonder why they should hire one in the first place.

Sound familiar to you? You’re not alone! Finding an effective book editor can be time-consuming and stressful. You’ve put so much into your book, it’s tough to trust someone else enough to hand it over.

In this post, we’ll explain why authors need editors, and how to find and work with a freelance editor to get the results you want.

Why should you hire a freelance editor?

Freelance editors catch your mistakes

Some writers may feel they don’t need an editor because they want to do the work themselves. This is completely understandable! But between you and me… everyone makes mistakes. It’s hard to catch our own errors in writing when we have read a manuscript 10, 20, or even 100 times.

Outsourcing your book editing to a pro helps resolve this problem because it allows a fresh set of eyes on your work. Remember, no one is immune to mistakes. We all need someone to catch ours!

Professional editors make your book more polished

Consider the last time you read a book. If it had many uncorrected grammatical errors or typos within the pages, you probably were distracted from the story. As for a book with absolutely no mistakes, you may have read through it quickly with few distractions.

Mistakes get it in the way of our readers enjoying a book as it should be read. Professional book editors do work that lends an air of refinement to books – when they edit and correct errors, they’re ensuring a better reading experience for your customers.

Happy readers can lead to happy reviews

If your freelance editor successfully combs through your book and corrects issues, readers will likely be pleased with the results. This can play out in your book reviews. Just think how many one-star Amazon reviews you’ve read that complain about an author’s use of incorrect grammar.

Readers are likely to air their grievances through reviews, but give people less of a reason for complaints and you’ll start seeing reviews that actually focus on what the book is about… not typos or spelling issues.

How to find and hire a freelance editor

Get referrals from fellow authors

If we’ve been successful at convincing you why you need professional editing services, it’s time for the next step: actually hiring someone to aid you in copy editing. One of the easiest ways to do this is by receiving referrals from your fellow self-published authors. Of course, the simplest way to begin this process is by texting or emailing your writing buddies and seeing who they hire for freelance editing. Other sources, like Joanna Penn’s list of editors, put you in touch with author-tested editors.

Utilize specialized talent websites

Ever heard of Upwork? What about Reedsy? These websites put you in contact with professional book editors that can be hired directly from these pages. Services like Upwork allow you to filter by preferred price for an editing service and even see what prior projects that editor has worked on. For example, if you’re a Cozy Mystery writer you might want to narrow your search down to editors who have worked on Cozies before. These sites also allow you to see client reviews of the editors’ work.

Seek out professional services

There are numerous resources that can help writers who are looking for book editors; the key is to look for legitimate ones. For example, the Editorial Freelancers Association has a member directory containing freelance editors that can be filtered down by subject specialty, language, location, and more. They even include helpful tips for authors such as fair market prices for editing services. We find their general Resources page to be a great place for any writer to get started in the search for a professional editor.

How to work with a freelance editor

Know what you want

Before you press that “hire” button or pay someone for their editing services, you need to know what you want from your editor. This will ensure the happiest work relationship possible. Do you require developmental editing? (This one’s especially important for all the non-fiction writers out there). Perhaps you’re interested in copy editing? (That’s the nitty gritty, word-by-word editing that’s less for authors with plot and structure concerns).

Do your research, learn about the types of book editing available, and be prepared to approach your editor with a clear plan for their work.

Vet your editor

Once you know what you want from an editor, now’s the time to vet their work. Hey, you want to make sure they’ll do a great job if you’re paying them!

You can vet an editor through asking specific questions, such as what their past work experience has been like, getting reviews from past clients, or learning about the editing software that they use. This is also a good time to ask your editor if they would be willing to do a sample edit – for example, you could give them a few pages of your work, ask them to edit, and see how the work goes. This is a helpful way to test out their editing methods and see if their method is right for you.

Set a contract

If you’re using a service like Upwork or Reedsy for finding a freelance editor, it’s likely that you’ll use a pre-existing contract that the editor has used before. Hiring someone on your own? Then you’ll need to have a contract that fits your specific editing needs. An example of what your freelance editing contract might look like can be found here.

In general, make sure that you and your editor are on the same page about pricing, the timeline in which this work needs to be completed, and what exactly is being edited. This cuts down on confusion and can eliminate potential bumps in the road.

Overall, we believe hiring an editor can be crucial to ensuring the very best version of your book. However, make sure you’ve done your research and know where to find editors, what to ask of them, and what exactly you want from this experience. Have you used a freelance editor before? What was that experience like? Let us know in the comments below!

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