How do I choose a freelance editor?

weighing1After you’ve filled out the Search Request Form, you will likely receive responses from more than one editor (unless you have specifically requested only one). You may have even found other potential editors through an Internet search, referrals from other authors, or at writers’ conferences. So how can you determine which one is the best for you?

Here are some things to consider.

What type of editing do you want?

  • Basic proofread for typos and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling (may include checking Scripture quotes)
  • Critique (overall substantive/content edit)
  • Copyedit (line by line)
  • Teaching (tutoring)
  • Mentoring (long term)
  • Coauthoring
  • Ghostwriting

Also consider the method of editing you prefer.

  • Online: With the Track Changes feature turned on, every change the editor makes will show up in a different-colored font. You can right click to either “accept” or “reject” each change. Or you can choose to accept all changes and see how the manuscript reads that way.A second online alternative is to ask the editor to make whatever changes he/she feels are appropriate right in the document and send you the revised version.
  • Hard copy: You send the editor printed pages to mark up with a pen or colored pencil. (As a professional courtesy, send the editor a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage to cover the cost of returning your work. Please add a few cents postage to cover any additional pages the editor may wish to include.)

And the type of writing you do.

Find an editor who specializes in whatever kind of writing you do. You probably don’t want to hire someone who specializes in nonfiction to edit your novel, for example—that person may not understand fiction techniques. Don’t hire a secular editor to work on your Bible study or devotional.


Find out how much the editors you are considering charge. (Click here to read the article “How much will a professional edit cost?”) You’ll want to hire the best editor you can afford.

Once you’ve narrowed down the choices to a few, how do you make that final decision?

  • Ask potential editors for a free sample edit. Most editors will do at least one or two pages to give you an idea of what they can do for you.
  • Ask for references/testimonials from authors they’ve worked with.
  • You may want to find out if the editor has been published. However, publishing credits are not necessary. Writing and editing are very different skills. A good writer may not be a great editor; a great editor may not have time to write for publication him/herself.
  • Personality compatibility. Try to determine whether you and the potential editor will “get along.” You don’t want to inundate a freelance editor with numerous phone calls or e-mails just to decide whether or not you want to work with that person. But one or two quick e-mails can tell you if the two of you are “on the same page.”
  • Gender. You may work better with an editor who’s the same sex as you. Or an opposite-sex editor may help you with your opposite-sex characters and/or opposite-sex target audience.

If you’re still on the fence, consider what one author who connected with an editor through our network said. After getting sample edits from three CEN editors, she chose the one that “frightened” her the most. She figured that editor would probably challenge and teach her the most. “I couldn’t help but feel like God wanted me to face my fear and trust Him through the process.” (Mary Allen)

If you’re ready to hire a freelance editor, click here.

To get an overall critique of your book proposal, sample chapters, or complete manuscript, click here.