Finding the right editor is like finding someone to date. It takes patience, resourcefulness, and sometimes, just plain luck. There are dozens of ways to find editors online, and the first editor you find may not be the right fit for your book, or the two of you may not have good chemistry.
As if sorting through the editing pool were not difficult enough, when you are putting out your book on a budget, things get even tougher. It can take a long time to sort out how to balance your needs with your budget and figure out which editor or editing service best meets that balance.
Again, while there are dozens of ways to find your right editor, here is a short list of ideas to get you started and keep prices low. Please keep in mind, this article is only about finding editing services, not the average costs or what you “should” pay, or even how to choose an editor once you find a few options. Those topics are beyond the scope of this article.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Determine your budget and which kind(s) of editing your book needs
Setting your budget before you begin the search for an editor will help you in several ways. Chiefly, a budget will hold you accountable to a number and make sure that you do not overspend. Also, your budget can help you narrow down which kinds of editing you seek for your novel and prioritize which are most important to pay for. On a practical level, setting a budget whittles down your options. There are literally thousands of editors and editing services that could potentially edit for you. By setting a price range, you shrink the pool and cut your research time way down.
10 Ways to Find an Editor/Editing Service
1. Internet search
This option is fairly obvious and will result in a plethora of options. Try narrowing down your results by being specific about what types of editing you need (copy editing, proofreading, etc.), what your editing project is (novel, nonfiction book, etc.), and who you are (indie author, author seeking editing before querying agents, etc.).
2. Freelance websites
Several websites exist to connect business people (that’s you!) with freelancers. On these websites, you have two options for finding editing services. First, you can create an advertisement for the editing you need and allow editors to bid on your job. Second, you can browse editors’ portfolios and profiles and then offer them the job directly. The most common freelance websites are oDesk and elance, who have merged into Upwork, and Fiverr. The prices on these websites vary widely, but they are known for being rather inexpensive.
3. Blogging network
If you are active in the writing community of a blogging network (ie: WordPress), you might be surprised how many editors are also bloggers. I can think of at least four editors that I have connected with on WordPress, either from them reaching out to me, or me stumbling upon their blogs. Most of the time, these editors will have a page dedicated to their services and provide samples and reviews of their work on a separate page or within their blog content.
4. Ask for referrals
If you have author acquaintances or friends (or read the blogs of friendly authors), ask them who they used and how their experience was. Most authors are happy to share and offer advice to beginning authors. This is what I did, and it not only strengthened my relationship with my fellow author, it also resulted in a fantastic editing experience.
5. Find your own referrals in books
Even if you do not feel comfortable contacting other authors directly, you can find your own referrals by looking through books. For example, think of a book that you like and feel was well-edited. Go to the book (either your copy or in the free sample online) and see if there is an attribution to the editor or editing service. Then, check them out!
6. Find your own referrals in online communities
There are plenty of free, online communities for writers. These are a great way to build connections with other authors and receive assistance. Online forums are also a great place to find resources and reviews of services. One of the most popular for indie authors is KBoards.
7. Social media
Many editors work as freelancers and find clients through social media platforms. Try searching for freelance editors on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also find many editors through Twitter hashtags, such as #amediting and #amrevising.
Several freelance editors are also authors. If you have skills you can trade in exchange for their editing services, offer them up. For example, if you’re a great proofreader, cover designer, logo designer, book formatter, copy writer, etc., ask if you can work out a deal to trade these services. The more specialized skills you have, the better this will work for you.
9. Look for editing companies with package deals
In my experience, editing companies tend to be cheaper than freelance editors, because they have a steadier stream of income and can share the workload. (Of course, this is not always the case.) Many editing companies also offer editing packages. With these deals, you pay for multiple types of editing in one package, which results in a lower rate than if you bought each editing type separately. This is what I have done for my editing, and it has saved me a lot of money compared to the other options I was considering.
10. Ask for non-professional help on certain portions
As many authors indicated in the comments section on my previous editing post, beta readers and critique partners can often take the place of a content editor. Ask well-read individuals and other authors to read your novel and help you find any plot holes, character development issues, etc. For more on finding/using beta readers, see this post. Likewise, if you know someone who is very skilled at catching errors, you could ask him/her to proofread your novel for you. Note: I do not necessarily advise skipping a professional proofread, but it is an option if you are on a tight budget, and I do not ever advise skipping a professional line/copy edit.
For more cost-saving book production strategies, check out Simon Whistler’s fantastic (AND FREE) book, Bootstrapping for Indies.
Authors, what methods do/did you use to find editing services? What other tactics do you encourage for new authors?