Our thanks to professional freelance editor Lorelei Logsdon for this guest contribution. Lorelei has edited over 300 books for first-time authors, multi-published authors, and NYT, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal best-selling authors of all genres!
A hot topic these days is the fact that the freelance editing industry is not governed by any sort of licensing or certification board. As they say, “Anyone can hang a shingle over their door and call themselves an editor.”
The result is many authors are leery to approach an editor for fear of making a bad choice.
The best way to protect yourself from such a situation is to do your homework. Let’s discuss some specific things to research when looking for a freelance editor:
Most freelance editors specialize in non-fiction, literary fiction, or genre fiction, and many have specialties within each of those categories as well. If you write historical fiction set in Scotland, for example, you will benefit greatly from having an editor who is familiar with Scottish history, Scottish geography, and the Scots language.
If an editor doesn’t have an “About” section at all, that is a red flag. If an editor has an “About” section but all it says is that they read a lot in high school and that they have a poodle, that is also a red flag. What they say isn’t as important as what they don’t say, in other words.
The specific information you’re looking for:
- Their professional background (where they’ve worked, what type of positions they’ve held),
- How much editing experience they have (How many books have they edited? How many authors have they worked with? How long have they been in business?)
- How much education they have and in what field. If they have a college degree but it’s in fashion design, for example, that’s not necessarily helpful to you as an author.
An editor’s rates do not necessarily have a direct relationship with quality. Do not assume that just because an editor charges a high rate that they are a highly qualified and skilled editor, and do not assume that just because an editor charges a low rate that they are unskilled or unqualified. There are many considerations that drive pricing, including an editor’s overhead costs, their other family income, their cost of living, their target clientele, if they edit part time or full time, or if they have extensive experience or education, to name just a few.
For standard editing prices, visit http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php.
Another consideration after the editor’s bio and pricing is the recommendation of other authors, meaning the editor’s testimonials that they’ve received on completed projects.
If an editor has a wonderful bio but has no—or few—testimonials, it could simply be that the editor has just started their business and doesn’t have them yet. This should not deter you from including them in your list of possible editors, since you may be able to get the best deal from them if they are motivated to get some projects under their belt.
If an editor has dozens or hundreds of testimonials, it could simply be that the editor did a lot of work for free (at least initially), and the resulting testimonials are positive due to the free price rather than the quality of work.
The number of testimonials, like their pricing structure, does not necessarily have a direct relationship with quality; it’s simply one small part of the overall picture.
The sample edit is one of the most important aspects of choosing an editor since it allows you to get a feel for the type of editing they do, how they will communicate the necessary changes and suggestions to you, and how thorough and competent they are at their job. There is no ‘one right way’ to edit, though, so the purpose of the sample edit is simply to find an editor who is right for you.
Summary of steps
The bottom line is that there is more to finding an editor than taking a friend’s recommendation, doing a random online search, or finding the cheapest price. Give yourself plenty of time by planning ahead and then thoroughly research those on your list to make sure you’re getting the most for your editing dollars.
Lorelei Logsdon is a professional freelance editor based in North Carolina, who specializes in full-service editing for independent authors and self-publishers. She has edited over 300 books for first-time authors, multi-published authors, and NYT, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal best-selling authors of all genres, including erotica and horror. She has a master’s degree in English, has self-published a dozen books in various genres, and has over twenty years of experience as a professional writer within multiple industries. You can reach Lorelei by visiting her website at LLEdits.com, or by emailing her directly at Lorelei.Logsdon@gmail.com.