Hiring a copy editor: what to focus on to make a better decision.

Things to consider when hiring a copy editor.

I’m well aware that there are many copy editors out there. All offering their specialties, expert knowledge, and passion for writing in its many forms. What should you consider when you decide that it’s time to start hiring a copy editor?

Understanding of your goals and aims.

When you hire a copy editor, you want to know that they will get you. It’s important that you can share your goals and aims with your writing, and the editor can respect them. Why? Because the copy editor is more likely to go away knowing what you want to achieve, and from that, help you get closer to that end goal. To a certain extent, you want them to resonate with your aims because they’ll then be able to place a larger amount of enthusiasm and passion into their work. This adds to your possible achievement.

Grammatical knowledge.

When a copy editor’s job is to find and correct typos and errors, especially of the grammatical type, you want the one that you hire to have expert knowledge in all things grammar. How can a person boost an entire manuscript if they’re not confident with grammatical meanings and logic? If you hire a copy editor who has that expert knowledge, not only will it shine through the result, but they’ll be able to give you more help and support too. If you’ve got a good knowledge of something, you can usually share it with someone else in a way that they will understand. Copy editors make comments to back up their decisions, and they should be able to explain grammatical choices to you, especially if you specifically ask.

Effective communication.

If you’re hiring a copy editor, chances are you’re handing over something very valuable to you. Effective communication means that you’ll feel more comfortable when you have to share your writing. When you get the right communication from a copy editor, it makes the process much more efficient and effective because you’ll be able to bounce queries and corrections off of each other. You’ll also be clear on time-frames, where they’re at in each stage of the edit, and you’ll feel like you’ve really got someone in your team.

Ability to edit without changing your style and voice.

The last thing you want to happen with the writing that you’ve worked so hard on is for someone to come in and change it all. A good copy editor will never do this. Never. They’ll be able to edit in a way that enhances your uniqueness. You want someone who understands their role inside out. A good way to find out whether a prospective editor will be good is to ask about a free sample or to look at testimonials and portfolios. There are plenty of copy editors (myself included) who offer a free sample edit, usually 500-1000 words. By doing this, you’ll get to see how invasive they are in their editing.

Passion for writing.

This is really important. You’ll want someone who loves writing as much as you do. They’re able to demonstrate their passion for words, for the writing process, for the inspiration it brings. When someone is actively passionate about something, you know they care. When you care, you work harder, you feel deeper. Place this passion in a copy editor, and you’ve got someone who wants to put the effort in to make the writing as good as possible so that the readers will get more from it.

The main things to think about when it comes to hiring a copy editor:

Hopefully, I’ve given you some food for thought when it comes to choosing a copy editor to hire. I’m not under any pretenses—the copy editing market is pretty saturated! But this gives you plenty of options (not a bad thing) and ensures that you’re going to find the right fit for you. Because it’s so important that whoever you hire has the passion to match yours and completely understands your end goals. I love my work because it lets me help you achieve your goals as an author. Don’t forget to learn why a person does what they do (see this post for my why, and to learn about the importance of a why).

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and connect with you on Instagram.

Published by Amy Ollerton

Hi! I'm Amy—a professional copy editor and proofreader living in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I provide friendly, personalised services that boost writing while retaining the author's unique style and voice. I write a little myself, shown through my blog. Alongside my work, I read books, enjoy baking, and explore the Highlands with my partner and my dog, Lula. If you've ever any editing queries, feel free to get in touch!

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