4 questions to ask yourself before hiring an editor for your business
opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
No matter what type of business you have, a qualified editor is one of the best investments you can make. Even seasoned writers make critical mistakes when creating everything from info pages to grant proposals to books. A trained eye can save you and your company from publishing embarrassing mistakes.
The saying you have to spend money to make money really applies here. Why is the absence of typos or the quality of your grammar so important? Depending on which research study you listen to (several companies have researched both American and British consumers), between 59 and 82 percent of your potential buyers are put off by typos, poor grammar or inaccurate translations.
Related Topics: Why you should hire a professional writer to boost your business
Many professionals like me edit blogs, websites, catalogues, restaurant menus, grant applications, books and more at reasonable prices. However, not all editors and proofreaders are created equal. Before you pay a professional to clean up your written or typed copy, here are some important questions to ask yourself.
1. How much experience do you have?
Finding an editor with experience is important. As I’ve mentioned in previous Entrepreneur articles, some people with no relevant education or work experience have started calling themselves coaches, writers, editors, etc. during the pandemic.
You’re paying more for someone with 25 years of experience. But you probably don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of overlooked errors or pay out of pocket again to find a truly experienced editor. Recently a lady came to me looking for her fifth editor for a book. She had chosen the cheapest editors four times and was badly burned. These people were either trying to use software programs, outsourcing their work to non-native speakers, or they just didn’t know what they were doing.
Related: 3 Warning Signs to Look Out for When Hiring a Book or Writing Coach
2. What kind of editing do you do?
This is especially important if you need an editor for books and not for websites, grant proposals, etc. You probably want an editor or proofreader for most business writing. If you need an editor for your book, an editor or proofreader is fine. However, if you’re concerned about the literary merit of your work, you may also need a development or content editor.
Some editors have experience with all types of editing, but prefer one of the others (in my case, it’s editing and proofreading). Others have no idea what you’re talking about when you ask what kind of editing they do. This is a potential red flag. Even an inexperienced development editor should at least know that this area exists.
3. How much will it cost?
Again, don’t hire an editor based on lowest — or even highest — price. But as an entrepreneur you need clarity so that there are no surprises. Only on rare occasions do I work hourly, as this model tends to leave more room for ambiguity and mistrust. It is much better for both parties to settle on a flat rate, enter into a contract and be aware of how many rounds of editing will be done.
For example, if someone needs a 20,000-word manuscript edited, I’ll make a quote based on both the word count and the amount of work required. This can range from $800 to $2,000 for one edit. If they want me to edit it and give it back to them to do whatever they want, that’s a round of edits. If they look at it again, rewrite something and send it back to me, that’s a second round of editing.
Most customers want one round, but some want two or three. So you need to create an offer based on multiple rounds of work. I lower my bids significantly when someone asks for two or three rounds of editing. Instead of paying $800-$2,000 two or three times for that 20,000-word manuscript, they might pay $1,600-$3,600 for multiple rounds. (Again, these are rough generalizations.)
4. What is your processing time?
For the past 25 years, I’ve heard nightmares about unclear or missed deadlines. As a former journalist, that makes me cringe. For me, a deadline is a deadline.
Again, clarity from the start will make life easier for everyone involved. If it’s a short blog, it’s not unreasonable to expect a turnaround time of 12 to 72 hours — although some editors won’t have the bandwidth for last-minute requests. For a longer project, you can wait anywhere from a week to two months. For example, a 100,000-word book needs multiple edits, and it takes a few months of edits to get good.
Be suspicious of anyone who says they can edit your book manuscript quickly. Often they use software like Grammarly. Or split your book into different files and offload it to multiple people on sites like Fiverr or Upwork. (As someone who has upworked most of my clients for years, I have had a few clients who have asked me to be their outsourced editor.)
You don’t want that; You want a person who you can read every word of your website, bio, blog, grant application, cover letter, resume, book and the like multiple times with. You want it to be read by humans, as software usually can’t tell the difference between to and from, or if someone is typing instead of staring.
Also see: How to Hire Top-Notch Freelance Writers for Your Content Business
An editor can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make as an entrepreneur. With the right experience and training, they’ll help ensure your written work is the best it can be — and you’ll avoid becoming a social media meme.
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