3 steps to successfully working with an editor

How to get the most out of the editing process

If you’ve found this page, you might have decided it’s time to hire an editor.

Maybe you’ve spotted one too many typos in your work – or worse, someone’s pointed them out to you.

Maybe you’re sick of spending hours agonising over what you’ve written and just want someone to polish it up for you.

Or maybe you know high-quality content is key to boosting your credibility and attracting more clients – and having your work professionally edited is an excellent way to achieve this.

Whatever the reason, hiring an editor is a great investment for your business – but it can be daunting, especially if you’ve never worked with one before.

You probably have lots of questions, like “What if I don’t agree with their changes?”. “What if they don’t get me or my writing style?”. Or, “What are they actually going to do?”.

To help you out, here are my top three tips for working with an editor and getting the most out of the editing process.

1. Choose the right editor

The first step to a great editing experience is choosing the right editor in the first place.

Most editors focus on either non-fiction or fiction. But many specialise even further, including by service, subject area, medium or genre, so finding one who has experience in your type of writing is crucial.

For example, if you’re compiling your company’s annual report, you’ll need an editor who understands corporate writing and is experienced checking technical information like financial figures, statistics and tables.

If you’re looking for an editor to polish your web copy or blog posts, you’ll want someone who’s across SEO best practices and understands the most effective way to present copy for online readers.

It’s also important to choose an editor who’s suitably qualified.

While there’s no prerequisite training to become an editor, most editors will have some sort of formal education and/or solid professional experience.

If you’re unsure, check if they’re a member of a professional association, like the Australian Institute of Professional Editors.

You can also try them out for a smaller job to see their editing skills in action before hiring them for a larger project.

Most importantly, make sure you find an editor you feel comfortable with.

Handing over the words you’ve invested time, effort and creative energy into can be a nerve-racking experience, so finding someone you trust and who makes you feel confident is essential.

2. Give a detailed brief

Once you’ve found the right editor, it’s time to tell them about your project!

To get a quote, you’ll need to give them some essential information, like your word count, the level of editing you need, and your deadline.

Most editors will ask for a sample, which helps them assess what shape your writing is in (and therefore how long your job will take).

But to do an excellent editing job, what your editor really needs to know is who you’re writing for.

Things they’ll need to know include:

  • Where your readers live. This determines the correct spelling for certain words and allows your editor to check for country-specific words and sayings that people in other countries just won’t get.
  • What your readers’ demographics are. For example, if you’re writing for millennials, the language and writing style you use and examples and visual elements you include will be very different compared to if you’re writing for over-50s.
  • How familiar your readers are with the topic. This helps your editor assess whether some jargon is okay, or if it’s better to put things in layperson’s terms.

3. Be open to feedback

The final step for getting the most out of the editing process is being open to your editor’s feedback.

Having your work edited is not like handing in an assignment at school (although I get it may sometimes feel like that!).

You won’t receive a pass or fail – but you will get expert advice on how to make your writing even better.

If you’ve chosen the right editor, they’ll be experienced in the type of content you’re producing and will help you see things you might not have noticed.

That said, you’re not always going to agree with all of your editor’s suggestions, and that’s totally fine.

Editing is a collaborative process, and most editors will mark up their suggestions so you can accept or reject them as you please.

Good editors will also take the time to explain why they’ve made certain suggestions (if it’s not entirely clear) and will be available to answer any questions you have along the way.

Are you ready to hire an editor?

Check out how we can work together