Questions to ask when hiring a freelance editor

Hiring a freelance editor can be a tough task, especially if you haven’t done it before. There are not only the challenges of knowing questions to ask yourself before deciding to hire an editor to clean up and help you with your work, but also questions you need to have answers to before you hire a freelance editor.

Note: EditorNinja exists to help you get quality copy editing and proofreading done at an affordable price. Get started today.

If you’ve decided to do it on your own, or you’re already down the process with a few editor candidates before finding EditorNinja, then below are the questions you should be asking yourself as well as editors before you hire.

Questions to ask yourself about hiring a freelance editor

Before you start the process of hiring an editor for your manuscript, whether a blog post a week or a manuscript every few years, you need to ask yourself the following questions to determine the right kind of editor for you.

Do I need a copy editor/proofreader only?

First up, you need to identify the type of editor you need. Do you need them to simply check for typos, grammar, and tone of voice or do you also need them to help you with things like story structure and flow?

Do I want an editor who can help with re-writes and story suggestions?

Following on from the above, if you’re writing your life’s work then you may want them to help with re-writes and story suggestions so that you end up saying everything you want to say.

If you’re simply producing content, like blog content, to put out into the world and this is less important then you may simply need a copy editor or proofreader.

Do I need help writing my book proposal?

Many literary services include proposal writing as part of their service offerings, so if you’re writing a full book and have funding to invest in it this may be a good solution for you.

Do I want my editor to also be a published author?

If you’re writing a book, do you want your editor to understand the process from your side because they are also an author and have been through the full process? This can be helpful.

If you’re a content marketer creating content for clients, do you also want your editor to have the experience of creating/crafting content to be read by an audience? This can also be helpful.

Just makes sure, if you are looking for this, that their main experience and love is editing instead of writing, as you will receive a better end product.

Am I going to require references from satisfied customers?

Before you go into the search process, it’s good to know what you will require before making a choice so that you can be upfront and not waste your time speaking with those who cannot or will not provide what you want during the sales process.

At minimum, we recommend looking for public testimonials from happy clients who you can verify by visiting their company’s site and looking at the quality of work.

How much am I willing to pay?

Understanding your budget is incredibly important when finding an editor. No one, including you, has an infinite budget and you’re only willing to pay what you think the service is worth.

It’s worth understanding average editing rates so that your expectations are set and you neither underpay (and thus risk subpar work) nor overpay. All things equal though, I’d rather overpay than underpay so that I get as high quality of work as possible.

How many pieces do I have for editing, or how often will I need an editor?

Understanding how many pieces you need edited and how often you will need editing is important before you hire so that you hire someone with similar expectations around time requirements.

If you need three blog posts edited per week but an editor is used to working on multi-month full-book projects, your need and their experience are not compatible.

Conversely, if you have a full book needing editing but the editor with whom you are speaking is primarily experienced with blog posts, it will not work either.

Understanding the scope of your need is critical to both you and potential editors so that a mutually beneficial and successful engagement can be had.

Questions to ask potential freelance editors

Here are the questions to ask each editor you are considering working with.

What type of editor are you?

Just like there are many types of writers, there are also many types of editors.

Some do grammar and copy reviews, while others get deep into the structure of the story and help you clarify your thoughts into writing.

Some edit many pieces per day while others edit just a few per year.

You need the one with the experience you have.

What other books/pieces have you edited?

When possible, it’s best to get some samples of work they’ve done. It’s especially good to see pieces they’ve done that are published and available in the market so you can see that they work on content that gets published.

What editing do you think my book/piece needs?

A good editor will review your piece before quoting you a price, so that they can recommend the right level of editing to help you achieve your goals.

Do you have any subject matter or genre expertise that may add extra value when editing this book/content?

It can be helpful to have an editor that has experience in the field you are writing about so that they can make suggestions on content and understand various things like terms frequently used, proper spelling and punctuation of people and brands, and the like.

This isn’t required, but is definitely a nice-to-have.

How many rounds of edits do you think this book/piece of content will need?

It’s important for an editor to set your expectation around length of engagement, time needed, and therefore price before you begin a project together.

To do so, ask them this question so they can set your expectations ahead of time.

What styles of editing are you familiar with or expert in?

There are types of editing (proofreading, copy editing, developmental editing, fact-checking) and then there are styles of editing (AP, Chicago, APA).

If you have a strong preference for one editing style over another, then it’s important to find an editor that has that experience. If you do not have a strong preference, then you should simply understand the styles they adhere to.

How long will it take for you to edit my book/content, based on the other projects on your plate?

Editors can get very busy, and so understanding their current work queue and sales pipeline can help you understand if they can work within your deadlines as well.

PS at EditorNinja, we always have available editors.

What will I need to do as the writer to ensure a professionally edited book?

Editors and writers go together like peanut butter and jelly when the fit is good, and they can work together to make each other look good.

It’s important to understand what is required of you as the author so that the editor can best do their job. By understanding their workflow and what feedback they desire, you will end up with the best piece possible.

What do you charge, how will you bill me and what are your terms?

When hiring an editor on your own, you need to understand how they price and how often they bill as well as what their terms are around things like intellectual property and number of edits allowed within the included price.

Note: EditorNinja’s pricing is transparent and a simple monthly payment on our subscription plans.

What tools will I need to use to collaborate with you? 

Understanding the tools your editor uses is important to make sure their workflow works for your process as well.

Most editors use Google Docs, though some prefer Microsoft Word and Track Changes. Some prefer email while others prefer phone calls.

Understand how they work and see how that works with your own process.

Note: at EditorNinja document editing is via a shared Google Doc. If a Microsoft Word document is uploaded it is converted to Google Docs before editing begins. All changes are tracked as Suggestions.

Do you have book editing references?

Before you hire, especially for a long term book editing contract, we advise asking for references whom you can contact about working with the editor.

For smaller editing jobs, such as ongoing editing of blog posts, this is less of a concern.

Note: if you use EditorNinja for your editing needs, you get guaranteed editing for a simple monthly cost and don’t have to worry about paying extra invoices or HR managing the editor. If you‘re unhappy with one editor, simply request another via Support.

What are your hours?

Editors like all of us need focused time and also need time off of work to refresh their mind so they’re as fresh as possible when working on client work. It’s important to understand the hours they work as well as how to best communicate and when so that your needs are taken care of and they are able to focus.

How will I receive my edited manuscript and what can I expect?

Most editors, as mentioned above, work in either Google Docs via Suggestions or in Microsoft Word with Track Changes enabled.

They’ll then return it to you usually via email or tag you in a comment on the Google Doc that all suggested edits have been made and it is time for you to review.

What happens if I’m not happy with the editing service?

This is an important question to get an answer to, because in most relationships there can be issues and it’s important to know how to work through them.

It’s also worth asking what the most common things are that an editor’s clients are unhappy with so that your expectations are set around what to look out for.

You can mostly avoid being unhappy with an editor’s services by making sure you’re aligned on pricing, timeline, communication, their style of work, and their style of editing.

Do you offer sample edits?

Most editors, especially book editors, will offer sample edits of at least one page of a manuscript so you can see the level of editing they provide. If you are looking for a full book editor, you may want to get sample edits from 2-3 editors so you can choose the best fit.

Note: at EditorNinja all of our editors have submitted work they’ve edited before they are included on our team of editors. If you are unhappy with an editing job and that editor cannot make it right, simply request a new editor.

How can you help me improve my writing skills?

Some editors will work with you to improve your writing skills as you go. Some are simply proofreading/copy editing editors that deal with the manuscript in front of them and do not coach on writing.

All things considered, an editor should dramatically improve your writing and the finished work because of their suggested edits.

Hiring an editor?

If you need editing done on an ongoing basis, check out our Subscription Pricing at EditorNinja, then schedule a demo.

If you have a long manuscript, such as a full book, click here and scroll to the bottom to schedule a consultation with us so we can understand your needs and help you find an editor.