There are certain important things every writer should look for when hiring an editor. Not all editors and editing companies are created equal. So to sort through the editorial slush pile, there are things you can look for that will ensure a professional and positive editing experience.

One of the things writers must decide before looking for a book or document editor is whether or not to pay by the hour or by the project. Both exist in the editorial services field, but there is a strong argument for writers to choose the latter. Consider this: Say you hire an editor to edit your book by the hour.

That editor is then going to download your manuscript of, say, 60,000 words, and give you a date he or she expects to have it ready. Now, let’s say that editor has an emergency during the editing process. What do you do? That’s the challenge of hiring an individual rather than a company. It presents the challenge of how to account for that editor’s hours. Do you pay her anyway and then have to find someone else? What if that editor works a few hours each day, but forgets to write down his start and end time?

Now he has to make up an invoice based on memory. As far as price, what if you are on a budget, and the editor comes back to you and tells you that it took more hours than planned. Then it comes to more than your desired budget. Lastly, is there any way to verify the actual amount of time that editor has spent on your book or other project?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous

As an editor with, I know that if the absolute worst happens and I have to abandon a project (it has not happened yet!) another professional, qualified editor can take over. And when I say professional and qualified, let me tell you—the screening process to get hired with FirstEditing was brutal!

There are a lot of benefits for the writer in hiring an editing company rather than an individual, one of which is that the work is guaranteed. It means that if after the editing job is complete and you have questions, you can still communicate with your editor about them. We stand by our work. If something isn’t right, we’ll fix it. You are also given a firm deadline, so you know exactly when to expect your document back. And, very importantly, you will know the cost in advance.

So, your best bet as a writer is to hire an editor from an editorial services company that is professional, such as In addition to pairing you with a qualified editor, offers a guarantee on its work, and gives you a firm price and deadline.

Originally posted 9/7/2010 and happily updated 10/29/2017. Thanks for reading!

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