When you see any offer for writing services, you will certainly encounter that practically all of them include an editor for hire. Yet, many casual, even professional writers are of the opinion that they don’t need one.

With casual writers or people who do not need to write often, a misconception could be present that the only thing editors do is catch typos and grammatical errors. Actually, that is only a minor part of the editor’s job and something that is usually handled by proofreaders.

As mixtusmedia succinctly puts it, “an editor is that critical voice that can tell you what you’re missing, how to tie everything together, what should be taken out and what should be reworked to give you the absolute best book possible.”

So, casual writers who, say, have to come up with a complex legal document or a business report will probably consider engaging the help of an editor savvy with such type of writing.

But what about professional writers themselves? Aren’t they supposed to know what they’re doing? Of course, they are, and they probably have solid experience behind them. Any serious writer revises and rewrites their text as many times as necessary, depending on both the text’s complexity and length.

Yet, as many times as they go through the text, they always miss the same grammatical or punctuation error, a misused word, a wrong date or fact. At the same time, they actually may miss the right writing tone or author’s voice.

This is all due to the subjective approach writers have to the text they wrote, creating what is called writing blind spots. And as the above source notes, “an experienced, trained editor will catch those blind spots and make sure they get addressed.”

Hiring an editor, business writing as an example

Hiring an editor for long, complex texts like a novel, non-fiction book or a detailed report that is over a hundred pages long is something that even professional writers will certainly go for in practically any of these similar cases.

Yet, what about the situation when you only have a two-page business letter or a similar, relatively brief document that you can go through relatively quickly. After all, if you are a business professional, you should both know the facts and what you are talking about?

Well, the answer to the above question can be a yes and no. Sure, the writer of such a document can be a specialist in his profession, but that does not mean that the text she/he wrote is coming across as it should, or that there aren’t grammatical spelling, or factual mistakes there. It could be anything from sentence construction to not having the appropriate tone for a business document.

So, if we stick to the example of business writing, what are those situations where an editor for hire can help? Here are some such situations:

  • Mathematical and numerical errors. Placing a comma or a point in a number can make a big difference. Not only in calculations, but with the whole document looking accurate and professional.
  • Names, places, events, and dates. Making mistakes with all of these has the same effect as including the wrong numbers.
  • Using too many superlatives. As one source notes, an editor may flag dubious superlatives such as “most,” “fewest,” “highest,” or “lowest” to help you avoid exaggerating or understating data.
  • Correct attribution of quotes. Business documents often include both personal quotes as well as those from other documents. Attributing them correctly is essential.

editor for hire

More on why you need to hire an editor for business writing

  • Certain claims within a text need to be substantiated. An objective eye of the editor will see where certain claims, like the quality of a certain product, need to come with supporting evidence.
  • Reducing Wordiness. As some claim that in composing music you may include too many notes, in writing this does not just amount to a claim. An editor can prune the text of too many words, reduce the sentence length and actually make it reader-friendly. Even business savvy people sometimes can not understand a too complicated business text.
  • An editor makes any given text more objective and reader-friendly. An outside editor is not the person who wrote the original text and has enough distance from it to be objective. In that respect, she/he can also act as “an effective advocate for the reader.”
  • A good editor makes sure that the text preserves both, the author’s ideas and her/his tone of voice. The editor does this by ensuring consistency in language and tone as well as making sure all the facts and information are correct.

What kind of editor do you need?

With all this, as Daily Writing Tips notes, when the text is done it is essential to determine what kind of editing you want and need. Is it a substantive content edit, copyediting or just proofreading?

To be able to determine that it might be best to have a peer or colleague read the text and see how they understand it.

“Substantive editing involves intensive attention to plotting, narrative, characterization, tone, and other holistic factors for fiction, and organization, logic, and effective messaging in marketing communications or other nonfiction (above).”

If your text needs revision for grammar, usage, style, and punctuation, you will need a copy editor. If you determine that the only thing you need is to check typographical errors, you should look for a proofreader.

So what should you look for in an editor you want to hire? In most cases, writing experts, suggest these facts:

  • Editing history. Check for types of books, documents or texts they have edited. “Editors that edit fantasy, might not be the best choice for historical fiction (or non-fiction). Non-fiction editors may not be the best choice for children’s books. Some editors are versatile, others are not. So check their history to see what genre(s) they work in the most.”
  • Experience. Of course, experience plays a big role. Experienced editors have a process and usually know what they are doing. Most authors will recommend hiring a seasoned editor. However, hiring a newbie can be a great way to save money.
  • Editing prices. Editing usually does not come cheap. “How much an editor charges will vary depending on their experience, workload, and several other factors.”
    Most editors will either list their prices by cost per word or cost per page. An editing page is 250 words.

More on what to look for in an editor

  • Potential editors should describe their editing process. Each and every editor classifies editing differently. They may include different things in the editing package. Also, they approach the editing process in a different manner and they also use different approaches to tracking their work.
    “What this comes down to is you want to know what you are paying for. Knowing how in-depth their process is can help you decide between them and another editor that charges the same amount” (above).
  • Asking for sample edits. There is a saying in the writer’s trade: “any editor worth their salt will offer a sample edit.” This is where you send them a chapter or a certain amount of pages from your book, and they edit it (free of charge) and send it back.
    Getting an editing sample is quite crucial before you commit to an editor and his work on your project. “Getting a sample edit beforehand can eliminate wasting time and money on an editor that sees things completely different than you do.”
  • Other elements to consider. Although the above elements should be key when you want to choose an appropriate editor, there are some others, that also play a role:
    • How long will it take an editor to do the job?
      • In which manner will they communicate with you?
      • What kind of editing style guides do they use?
      • Personal references from clients that had a job for them similar to yours.
      • Present them with your personal preferences in advance.

One more question to consider here is the payment policy. Will you pay by the hour, by the project (a flat fee), or by the page? Most editors work at an hourly rate, which is the fairest and the most effective because it allows the editor to do their best work (DailyWritingTips).

Editor for hire – where to look for one

As we mentioned above getting an editor for hire is not a cheap affair. As the Daily Writing Tips notes, substantive editing is likely to put you back $50 or more per hour, and the typical working rate is several pages per hour.

According to their accounts, copy editors charge about $25 to $50 per hour. This depends on their level of experience and expertise and on the subject matter. Also, they generally complete five to ten pages an hour. Proofreading costs less and is accomplished more quickly, but unless the content is online, you’ll have to mail the proofs, send them as a PDF Portable Document File (the editor will need an editing program), or have the proofreader complete the project on-site or pick it up and deliver it on completion.

“An experienced substantive editor could end up billing you a few hundred dollars for helping you craft a 2,500-word article for a specialized publication. Even having some Web pages proofread can easily become a three-figure expenditure.”

Yet, there is that other side of the coin. “It’s nearly impossible to quantify the effect of an editorial professional’s contribution to the impact of any piece of content, and in many cases, the editing you don’t notice is the best kind.”