7 tips on how to choose an editor or proofreader
Updated: Jul 22
You finished writing your document. But it's something important, and you would like to have a second pair of eyes looking at it. But your friend that is very good at spotting mistakes is not ideal. You need to hire a professional editor or proofreader. But how to choose the best one?
First, let's look at the differences between a proofreader and an editor.
Do you need a proofreader or an editor?
A proofreader will look at the technical aspects of a text and formatting. They will check grammar, punctuation and spelling. A proofreader will also look for inconsistencies and make sure that the message is clear.
On the other hand, an editor will look deeper into the text. They will evaluate if the writing flows well, if there's a clearer and more economical way of saying the same thing, and they can also improve the style and elegance of the text.
Now that we have clarified these concepts, let's look at some tips to help you hire an editor or proofreader.
Is the editor or proofreader trained?
A professional editor will have appropriate training. Some reputable organisations are the CIEP, the Publishing Training Center, EFA, Chicago University (Editing Certificate), Queen's University (Professional Editing Standards), or Editors Canada.
Does the editor or proofreader belong to a professional organisation?
Any professional needs to stay updated, and belonging to a professional organisation provides that. Professional associations usually send regular newsletters with relevant information, have training available and organise annual conferences.
Is the editor or proofreader specialised in the right area?
Editors don't work with all types of publications. Some specialise in fiction, others in non-fiction, and others in academic writing. Contact the editor to check if they are familiar with the genre/type of document in question.
How much does the editor or proofreader charge?
Different editors charge different rates depending on experience, location and other factors. They may also charge per word, page or project. Ask for a few quotes and then compare.
What is the editor or proofreader's availability?
Their availability will also vary. Some might be readily available while others might be booked for months. So check that as well.
Does the editor or proofreader have any testimonials or recommendations?
Look for testimonials or recommendations on the editor's website, Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. Talk to your fellow writers to see if they have worked before with the editor in question.
Are they willing to work on a sample?
Most professionals will be willing or even ask to work on a sample of your document to understand the type of work in question and how long it will take them to do the job. Some editors will even require to see the whole document before sending a quote.
Be prepared to pay for the sample edit, as not all editors or proofreaders will offer it for free.
The most important factors that you have to pay attention to are if the editor or proofreader has appropriate training and if they are specialised in the genre in question. Then of course you have to consider your budget and time frame.
I hope that you now feel more confident to hire an editor and that these 7 tips on how to choose an editor or proofreader were helpful.