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What Makes an Ideal Freelance Editor? Eight Defining Qualities


Nothing matches the uplifting feeling you get as you achieve the milestone of completing your manuscript. It can feel as if tons of weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. However, writing a draft of your manuscript does not mean it's ready to be published.

Editing it is the next big step to consider. While self-editing your work is a great start, authors should always hire reliable professionals, such as freelance editors, to examine their manuscripts carefully.

Smart authors can agree that hiring a freelance author is a great idea, but they may not know how to find an ideal match for their needs.

If you are facing the same concern, here are some of the important defining qualities of a reliable freelance editor you must consider.

  1. Inquire About Hands-On Experience

Editors wear their years of experience as a badge of honor. More experience in the field establishes them as experts. Since editors work with different clients, they also stay updated with industry trends. 

The experience of a freelance editor signifies the insights and knowledge they can bring to your manuscript. You must inquire about an editor's hands-on experience, especially in your genre. This information can help you make up your mind about hiring their services.

  1. Ask About the Credentials

While formal education is not necessary for someone to become an exceptional editor, it shows their commitment to pursuing a career as an editor. Their formal education and training can also give you peace of mind about working with them.

A degree in literature, creative writing, or related fields is a great addition to the portfolio of the editor you are considering. Formal education ensures that these professionals are up-to-date with industry standards and can implement them into your work to boost reader engagement.

  1. Consider Genre Specialization

Knowledge about formal education or years of experience is not enough to convince you to hire a freelance editor. The best way to find someone who understands your work and can bring out the best in it is to ask them about their specialization.

Just like authors, editors may also be interested in some genres more than others. This means that they may have a better understanding of the genre, its conventions, and its audience.

If you work with an editor who specializes in editing work in the same genre as your manuscript, your professional relationship will likely benefit it.

  1. Ask for a Sample

Before you hire a freelance editor, you must understand their editing style. Just as writers have varying writing styles, editors also have their unique approach to improving a manuscript. Their editing style needs to complement your writing style. You must ensure that their way of editing preserves your voice and vision in the manuscript.

The only way to determine whether their editing style is compatible with your needs is to ask them for a sample. An editing sample can help you learn more about an editor’s ways of working and compatibility in their approach.

  1. Determine their Communication Skills

Working with an editor is not an overnight ordeal. It is a long working relationship and you must not compromise your comfort or personal satisfaction for it. Among several other factors to ensure your comfort, make sure to assess the communication skills of the editor you are considering hiring.

Effective communication skills are key to ensuring a successful editor-author relationship. Chat with them over the phone to assess their feedback-giving, speaking, and listening skills. You can do this a couple of times to be sure about the decision you are about to make. 

It is crucial to ensure that you do not compromise on this aspect because a lack of communication between an editor and writer can lead to a waste of time and energy and cause several other problems on your publishing journey.

  1. Figure their Attention to Detail

Editors are meticulous by nature. They pay attention to small details in your manuscript to make the necessary changes. This attention to detail helps them catch errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistency.

Take some time to go through the editor's portfolio you are considering hiring. Look at the samples and see how they have helped their clients improve their manuscripts. These samples can help you determine an editor’s attention to detail.

In addition, looking into their samples also gives you an opportunity to learn more about their editing approach. This information can also help you determine whether the editor in question is the right match for your editing needs.

  1. Satisfactory Customer Reviews

Every editor you consider to bring out the best in your book will have great things to say about their services. An editor who wants to be hired will never tell you about their weaknesses. They will only focus on bringing your attention to their strengths.

Instead of taking their word for it, research the editor you are considering hiring and read their reviews. These reviews can tell you all you need to know about past experiences of their clients. These ratings and reviews can help you make up your mind.If you are not satisfied with the review section, another thing you can do is to ask them for references. It can be your opportunity to personally reach out to an editor’s past clients and learn more about their services and professional ethics.

  1. Prioritize Professionalism

It is important to ensure that the editor you are considering has professional conduct and adheres to ethical editing practices in the industry. It is a long professional relationship, and dealing with someone without regard for professionalism can be very uncomfortable.

One of the most important tell-tale signs of a professional editor is that they will always bring your needs first. Even if they have a difference of opinion, they will bring it up respectfully instead of forcing you to follow their approach.

Most importantly, partnering with a professional editor can amplify your voice and style. They ensure that their suggestions enhance your writing instead of hindering its essence.

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