Clay Lord, Copy Editing, Writing and Proofreading Services

How to Choose an Editing Service and What to Look for in a Professional Editor

When trying to select a professional editor or editing service to revise your paper, what questions can you ask to make sure your editor can do a great job? What are the red flags to avoid in a prospective editor? The following tips can help you make the right choice.

Questions to Ask Editors

  1. What is your background and experience? Do you have a website where I can read about you?
  2. Will you review my manuscript beforehand, so that your price quote and due date will be accurate?
  3. What will be the total fixed cost of the project?
  4. What is your editing process? Do you use Track Changes in Word so I can see your individual changes, or do you employ some other method?

Things to Avoid—What I Call “Red Flags”

Avoid: Editors who work at an hourly rate, or a price per page, and won’t give you a fixed bid.

You need to know exactly what the job will cost and when your revisions will be delivered, before work begins. Quotes based on an hourly rate or price per page are just estimates, and the editing service might choose to revise them later (upward). To avoid surprises later, always get a fixed price up front.

Avoid: Editors who offer different “levels” of editing.

There is only one way to edit a document, the right way. An editor that offers “light or heavy” editing options is content to offer you less than his best—and less than you deserve for the money you are paying him.

Avoid: Editors who are reluctant to review the complete draft, or want to charge you extra fees to review references, abstract, or exhibits such as figures, tables, or diagrams.

I request that clients send me the entire draft, and my price quotes include the complete paper. If one of my clients wants me to review only the body of his manuscript, I will argue strongly against it. Here’s why. It is not uncommon for me to find 100 proofreading errors in the References section alone, and exhibits also tend to be surprisingly error-prone. If you think you want to skip the References or other sections, I suggest you think again.

Avoid: Editors who don’t communicate with you during the editing process.

You need to find an editor who will communicate with you during editing, not just edit based on an assumption one way or the other. I cannot imagine completing an academic editing project without contacting the client at least once or twice during my editing process, and more often than not, we exchange 5-6 emails to resolve my questions, and work through decisions about the client’s preferred choice among various editing options. Typically, I also take notes about the English usage in the paper during editing, and send these to clients upon delivery of the revisions.