Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dollars & Sense for Writers - Guidelines on Where & When to Spend Your Money - Part Four

by Alycia Morales

This is an ongoing series designed to give writers guidelines on where & when to spend your money. 

If you missed the first two posts in the series you can find them here:

When & How to Hire a Freelance Editor 
You've written your novel/non-fiction book/short story and you think you should maybe hire a freelance editor. But you're not really sure you need one. Or where to look. Or how much to expect to spend. Or if you even want to spend your money on an editor. How do you decide? And where do you find said editor once you've made the decision you need one?

I work as a freelance editor, and I would like to offer you some tips.

First, let's talk about when to hire a freelance editor.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I written something I would like to have published?
  • Is it complete?
  • Have I self-edited my piece of writing at least two times?
  • Do I want to self-publish?
  • Do I want to submit my writing to a magazine or a publisher?
If you've answered yes to any of the above, it is time to hire a freelance editor.


1. You want to be as professional as you possibly can when submitting your material to any publication or when you are looking for an agent to represent that material.

2. There are plenty of books already available. Too often, self-publishing (or indie) authors write their book, upload it to someplace like CreateSpace, and hit publish without thinking it through. Their books remain filled with all sorts of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors or flat character and chaotic plots. Not every indie writer is this type, but I've seen more than enough of them.

3. You want to look smart.

So how do you go about finding and hiring an editor?

1. Look for someone who has a track record. If you're an author, you probably know other authors. Ask around. Get a recommendation. You can also search for an editor online. There are several organizations that list freelance editors. If you're looking for a Christian freelance editor, The Christian PEN is a great resource. There is also an Editorial Services section in the back of The Christian Writer's Market Guide.

2. Once you've found the editor of your dreams, check out their website (if they have one) and inquire. Send an email and tell them who you are, how you found them (especially if a friend or professional recommends them), what you need an editor for (fiction? non-fiction? mentoring?), and that you'd love to know about their fees.

3. When they respond, be sure to get answers to your questions. If you're wondering about fees, what a substantive edit covers, or any other thing, ask. Professional editors will provide answers to your questions and concerns.

Finally, here are a few things to look for in a professional editor:

  • Courtesy.

  • Reasonable response times. (Remember that they have a life, too. Sometimes things happen and responses may be delayed. But most times they should respond within the week.)

  • Reasonable fees. You won't want to hire someone who charges far less than average rates. They probably do less-than-average work. Reasonable rates can be between $20 per hour up to $70 per hour, depending on the type of edit and the editor. (Some editors charge by the page. $4 - $10)

  • Do they provide a sample edit? Most editors will provide some type of sample edit for free. This is their way of showing you who they are as an editor and figuring out where you are with your writing. I always do this so that I can make recommendations to my client on the type of edit they will need and how long it will take me to complete the edit. Personally, I wouldn't pay for a sample edit.
What questions would you ask an editor? What would your concerns be?

Don't forget to join the conversation!


Alycia Morales is a full-time freelance editor and mentor. She is also the Senior Editor of When she isn’t busy editing, Alycia loves to write, read, take pictures, and drink decaf coffee. You can visit her award-winning blog here: TheThoughtful Spot.


  1. Thanks for your tips! I've occasionally thought about whether I need to hire an editor, and it's good to hear the facts on it!

    1. You're welcome, Bluebelle! Thanks for stopping by!