I Bit The Bullet… And Hired A Freelance Editor
I finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago and shucked out some of my hard earned dough to invest in my writing. Up until this breaking point I had convinced myself that I could, on my own, shed my biased, beer reading goggles and edit my own work. At times I would become encouraged and begin editing at chapter one, only to become discouraged after page two, put down my editing for a minute to grab a comforting cup of hot chocolate and never look back when I decide I need to cuddle with my hubby or cats, mow the lawn in 1oo+ degree temperatures, or clean my car. I found myself doing anything to get away from editing.
I crafted my novel in January of 2011. That’s a LONG time ago folks. I thought by now I’d be knee deep in rejection letters from literary agents. Ignoring the time lost, however, I began to Google freelance editors a few months ago. It took me a while to find one who fit.
My criteria was:
- Professionalism – I wanted someone who didn’t just have an English degree. I needed someone with experience and positive reviews to back it up.
- Honesty – I couldn’t bear to work with someone who kissed my tush and claimed my book was the greatest thing since sliced bread only to win my business.
- An interest in me – I had several potential candidates go to my blog and read about me, my short stories, etc. I wanted them to know who I was. I found it particularly encouraging when one editor actually read a short story of mine and proceeded to provide me with edits! I hadn’t even asked for that…
- Pricing – Pricing was quaternary. I truly was willing to pay anywhere between $250.00 and $550.00. From my research these prices seemed acceptable. It became tricky when I found equally qualified individuals with a pricing difference of around $300.
- Communication – I was willing to let my editor do their job without me nagging them, however, I wanted to ensure whomever I worked with was a quick communicator and prompt at responding to e-mails.
After communicating with several editors, all of whom were incredibly competent and friendly, I decided to go with Matt (e-mail him here). I found his profile via Elance, a third party freelance hosting website. It provides protection for the client and contractor, as well as honest reviews from past clients. There is no cost to list your job and you can pay via a checking account or credit card. I’m not entirely sure how this works for those outside of the U.S., but there are plenty of contractors and clients from around the world on there, so I know it is possible.
Matt fit every one of my criteria points. I loved that he was a professional, but clearly enjoyed life and spending time with his wife by traveling around the world. His understanding of a diverse range of cultures was a key reason as to why I felt a connection with him because one of the main issues my novel wrestles with is culture clash.
Matt cleaned up the formatting of my manuscript, ensured grammar, syntax and punctuation was correct, and provided me with feedback regarding points of confusion, sentences that could be reworked, and most importantly a critique of my ending (which I won’t giveaway! ).
I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to accepting criticism. My main problem is when praise comes my way, particularly when from a friend or family member. I can’t help but think they feel obligated to say something positive about my work. When Matt delivered criticism I knew he had nothing to gain or lose by being honest with me. His first priority was doing what he was hired for and doing it well, which he did.
In addition to following the criteria listed above I would encourage you to NOT SETTLE. Create a list of your own criteria. Ask yourself what your editor needs to be knowledgeable about to honestly work on your project. Don’t go for the editor who offers the lowest price or seems like the right choice at first glance. Investigate, investigate, investigate. Find the editor who shares commonalities with you and has a genuine interest in you as not just a client or writer, but a person.
Have you considered hiring an editor to look over your manuscript before querying? I’d love to hear why or why not.