Where to Find Professional Editors

As I said last time, if you’re self-publishing, you need a professional editor. But where do you get one? There is no licensing standard for editors. Anyone with a fondness for reading and a bent for grammar can declare themselves an editor and start seeking clients. Many sites exist to pair this sort of freelancer with writers, but beware. At such sites, pricing often becomes a race to the bottom.

For example, I gave up on using one such site for leads when I found a listing from a writer who wanted “copyediting of a 100,000-word epic fantasy novel.” That seemed right up my alley, until I looked at the budget: $500.

That’s about a quarter of what I normally charge for such a job.

The problem is, inexperienced editors abound on those sites and will take that fee, but experienced professionals know they are worth more and therefore stay away. So you get what you pay for.

editor

Illustration by doomu • Fotolia

A better place to meet a freelance editor is at a writers conference. Many freelancers teach at conferences, just as I do. Take a class, sit with someone at lunch, and get to know them. That will help you determine whether they’ll be a good fit for you. Some conferences also schedule consultation appointments or paid critiques with freelancers on faculty.

Social media is another way to connect with a professional editor. You can also ask writers you know for recommendations. Either way, be sure to ask for references.

You could hire me, although I am not accepting any new work until June. If you need someone sooner, or if you want someone else—an editor with expertise in a particular subject, for example—here are several places you can look:

Christian Editor Connection

CEC is one of the few organizations that carefully examines its editors to ensure that you get a highly qualified editor. I am a CEC member, and I assure you that the exams are very rigorous. I don’t know of another group that screens its editors so thoroughly. When you submit your listing there, you will be hand-matched by a real human being to editors who meet your needs. You then negotiate terms with the editor of your choice and pay them directly.

Reedsy

Unlike some marketplaces, Reedsy doesn’t allow anyone who calls themselves an editor to join. Reedsy staff verify the resumes of all editors who apply, and not everyone makes the cut. In “How Does Reedsy Select its Publishing Professionals?” the company revealed that as of January 2016, more than 10,000 people had applied for a spot in Reedsy’s listings, but only 350 had been accepted. That tells you something about the number of people trying to break into freelance editing.

At Reedsy, you browse the listings and then request bids from the editors whose profiles match your needs. You negotiate terms with the editor, and Reedsy processes your payments.

Reedsy also lists designers, publicists, and marketers, so it can be an indie author’s one-stop shop.

Editorial Freelancers Association

The EFA posts a directory of its members and also operates a job list so indie authors can post the kind of editing they’re looking for. Be forewarned—the EFA has about 1,600 members, so a job listing there will produce tons of results. Consider setting up a one-time-use Gmail account just for the purpose. Or get ready to master your mail app’s filters. If you’re not prepared to be so inundated, you might prefer to use the directory to find someone who meets your needs. Either way, you negotiate with and pay the editor directly.

Editor World

If you need an editor on short notice, especially for a brief project, Editor World may be right for you. This marketplace shows you every editor’s qualifications and availability. If you’re willing to pay extra, you can choose one-day turnaround for up to 7,500 words. If you just need a blog post proofread, there’s even a two-hour service that tops out at 1,200 words. Longer projects are also acceptable, with time frames adjusted in keeping with word count. With Editor World, there is no negotiating; you pay the same per-word rate no matter which editor you choose.

All of these groups are made up of dedicated professionals who are eager to help indie authors succeed.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

8 thoughts on “Where to Find Professional Editors

  1. Lauren says:

    Reedsy and other mills take a percentage of the fee you pay for services. So you are likely to pay more for editing than you would if you contacted an individual editor. What is the experience of the person who “hand-matches” editor and writer? I think that sounds more like marketing babble than anything truly useful. The Editorial Freelancers Association does not screen editors; anyone who pays their dues can get the job listings. It’s just wrong to say the group is entirely made up of “professionals.” Still the best way to find an editor is through recommendations, interviews, and references. Personally, I wouldn’t hire anyone who will not talk to me on the phone. You don’t have to go to a conference to meet an editor.

    • I agree, meeting people in person is best. But not every writer has the budget for conferences.

      The person who does the hand-matching for CEC is a writer and editor with many years of experience, and believe me, she takes great care in her work.

  2. Glynda says:

    I’ve been asked several times whether I edit professionally because other authors have been so happy with the results from me.
    But as one who has to juggle editing with an unrelated job that pays the bills, I never know how to judge the length of time a project will take or how to charge for it, especially when a work of whatever length requires substantial revision and fact checking as well as editing.
    A couple of projects racked up well over 200 hours and another closer to 300 (my computer tracks time spent in a document), but they were works I really liked.
    Can any editor hang out his/her shingle as a professional without being able to guarantee completion by a particular deadline? What constitutes reasonable pricing?
    I haven’t reached the tip-over point of going pro, but the more authors who ask, the more I think about it.

  3. […] them completely. So how can you be sure the person you’re hiring is qualified? If, as I said last week, you asked other writers for recommendations and checked references, that should go a long way. But […]

  4. […] I wrote about where to find a good editor, I alluded to $500 for copyediting of a 100,000-word epic fantasy novel being a low-ball budget. So […]

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