We were asked on Twitter recently how to find a good free-lance editor. We turn today to Lillian Cohen-Moore for the answer. Be sure to leave your own tips and questions in the comments. Thanks for your wisdom, Lily!
As someone who has been on both the editorial and writer side, I’ve picked up a few methods to find my people. Locating an editor to work with is similar to finding an agent, or the right market—do your homework, know what you’re dealing with, and you’ll do great.
Know What Kind of Editor You Need
A copy editor will poke your punctuation with a stick, make sure rewritten sections don’t have floating fragments of old passages in them, and that your work is free of widows and orphans. In the end, you’ll have a clean, correctly formatted manuscript. A substantive or developmental editor is someone who will look for plot holes, have the skills to recognize why and where sections need rewrites and possess experience and know-how to make recommendations on how to improve your manuscript. You might want one or both. In my case, I often work as a copy editor. I do often work on projects with editors who specialize in developmental editing, which tweaks my job description from strict copy edits to a second pair of eyes, often part of creating an edit that’s a blend of two different people’s skills and views.
Hit the Directory
You can always look to professional organizations as a starting point, like the EFA. The Editorial Freelancers Association is an American-based, international professionals group for freelance editors of all stripes. You can search the EFA directory for someone who specializes in your project type, as well as place a free job listing looking for editors, which will only go out to EFA members.
Ask your friends
Via word of mouth or social networking sites, you can ask friends and colleagues for a referral to an editor, or if they know anyone who does freelance editing. Depending on scope of project, their qualifications and rates, you can generally find someone who will fit what you need at a given time. If you belong to a writer’s group of writer’s guild of any kind, you can ask fellow members for tips as an additional source in your search.
Turn to your bookshelves
You can check out anthologies, magazines or role-playing games you enjoyed, and look for the editorial credit(s) as a jumping off point to find an editor who you enjoyed the work of. Some of those people will be freelancers, but not all will be accepting clients or able to.
Lillian Cohen-Moore is a freelance writer, researcher and editor working in speculative fiction and creative non-fiction. She’s published horror and science-fiction, freelances as a personal assistant, recently working as co-editor on the role-playing game Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. Currently Editor in Chief at the Broad Universe Broadsheet; she lives in Seattle, Washington, where she avidly explores history, botany and funeral sciences for her next project. You can find her on the web at www.lilliancohenmoore.com.