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Hiring an Editor from a Freelance Platform

There are multiple platforms from which a person can hire an editor or ghostwriter. I’ve been Freelancing on some of these sites for a while now, and I’ve learned a few things I want to share with the novice looking to hire an editor or ghostwriter. This article is about finding an editor. I’ll do another on choosing a ghostwriter next week.

First, know what kind of editor you need. Most of the manuscripts I’ve edited from these sites needed developmental editing. They weren’t ready for line edits, which deal more with grammar issues. A developmental edit will address things like story structure, character development, pacing, and plot.

Line editing, on the other hand, is more about each line of the manuscript. The editor will take a fine-tooth comb to the manuscript, looking for inconsistencies, word choice, repeated words, syntax, and more.

An editor is not an English teacher. That bears repeating. An editor is not an English teacher. Their job is not simply to grade your grammar and give the manuscript back. Your grammar can be correct but still not work as a piece of fiction.

Fiction is layered. It’s multifaceted. It’s more than one thing going on at any given time. Think of it as a cherry pie. That pie comes to you as a whole, but it’s actually made up of many parts. There’s a crust with delicious, sweet cherries swimming inside a mouthwatering glaze, right? Nope. It’s first flour, salt, butter, or maybe shortening. Then there’s the filling. The pits have to be removed from the cherries. They’re cooked in water, sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, and a smidge of lemon.

See what I’m getting at?

An editor is going to be considering everything put into that manuscript. Dialogue, character arcs, scene structure, setting, imagery, the dreaded show don’t tell, POV, deep POV, and more. If there are pieces missing, or mishandled, the editor will point them out. One time I edited a novel with a sentence that was (a paragraph) 136 words long. It was grammatically correct with commas and semicolons, but written that way, it didn’t fit today’s genre fiction market. The story was appealing and had potential, but it’s too hard for a reader to stay with a piece if there’s no break in the rhythm. It requires more of their concentration, and in the time of texting, brevity is key to holding a reader’s attention.

Understand that fiction is not about proper grammar. At the same time, you have to know the rules to know how to break them. At least aptly. That’s why I say you need a fiction editor and not an English teacher to edit your manuscript.

What does all of this have to do with online freelancing platforms? Anyone can set up an account on one of these platforms and say they are an editor, a ghostwriter, or any one of the other freelance services offered on the site. But are they qualified? Be careful and be armed with the information you need to hire someone. It’s too easy to be duped, more easily than you might think. I know because, on the flip side of this, I’ve edited manuscripts from people who’ve hired writers from these platforms. And again, correct grammar does not necessarily mean entertaining and engaging fiction. That’s not to mention the ones that are outrageously poor writers purporting themselves to be professionals. I’ve seen that, too.

So how do you know whom to choose? First, don’t ask for a sample of editing they’ve done before. That’s simple enough to plagiarize. Ask them to do a free sample of their style of editing on your work. Three to five pages should tell you if they know their craft. It will also give you an idea if the two of you are a good fit for working together.

Finally, and obviously, check for an online history or presence that will corroborate their credentials. You might just save yourself some money and heartache.

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