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What to expect when working with a freelance editor

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to working with a freelance editor.

How do you make sure you get the most out of hiring an editor to collaborate with?

Let's look at the most common myths and ensure you are well-informed to maximize your experience.

Myth #1: Editing is just proofreading

There are four basic types of editing:

1. Structural editing

2. Stylistic editing

3. Copyediting

4. Proofreading

A structural edit is like hiring a professional organizer. It assesses the organization and structure of your document or story.

A stylistic edit ensures the writing is clear, coherent and flows well. The process addresses the use of language, such as jargon and wordiness, while making sure the author’s voice remains throughout. Often, the term developmental edit is used to describe the combination of a structural and stylistic edit with the goal of a high-level, overall evaluation of a manuscript.

A copyedit is like the jack of all trades and the official fact-checker. The process ensures correctness, accuracy, consistency and completeness. A copy editor will spot character development inconsistencies, correct errors, and may suggest more significant corrections. They can even help create style sheet to make it easier for writers to stay consistent.

Proofreading is a review involving correcting obvious document errors such as spelling, grammar and layout issues, while being careful not to introduce new errors. This is often the last step before publication or distribution.

Freelance editors are versatile and may be able to offer a combination of edits at the same time or in stages. The most important thing when working with an editor is to be very clear about your expectations and needs upfront.

Myth #2: All editors are created equal

Editors are as unique and diverse as the writers they work with. They can specialize in fiction or non-fiction or genres like sci-fi, children’s literature, cookbooks or technical manuals. It’s beneficial to work with an editor who has experience with the type of writing you’d like to work with them on.

Myth #3: Anyone can be an editor

Editing is a profession and, like any profession, it's possible to have less-than-stellar professionals. An editor should have qualifications that may include formal training from an accredited institution or professional credentials, for example, from Editors Canada. To make sure you’re working with the best person for your project, don’t forget to verify credentials and request a sample edit. Most editors will have a portfolio, and while it can be limited due to client privacy, they may be able to provide references.

Ultimately, find a selection process that suits your needs. A large part of the education for editors is how to make the experience comfortable for writers, so you should expect a positive relationship.

A freelance editor can be an important part of the creative and technical process and finding the right editor for your project and establishing clear expectations and requirements will ensure the experience is as smooth and rewarding as possible.


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