You’ve finished your manuscript and have decided to contact some freelance editors to ask about rates and services. But how do you contact a freelance book editor? What information should you give them? And how do you choose which editor to work with?
It can be intimidating to search for and contact editors. Here are a few tips to help you craft a professional query that will make getting quotes from freelance editors a much smoother process.
Where to Find Freelance Editors
First things first, you’ll need to find some editors to contact.
Like many professions, editing has some professional associations. Many editing associations are based on city or region or country. Most of these associations have member directories that you can look at to learn about who their editors are. Some editing associations also have an option for you to email the organization and they will send your query to their membership.
Here are a few editor associations to get you started:
- Calgary Association of Freelance Editors (CAFE)
- Editors Canada
- ACES: The Society for Editing
- Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA)
- Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island
- Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP)
When looking for a freelance editor, you’ll want to check out their association profile or website to get a sense of who they are, what services they offer, and what types of books they work on. If you’ve written a horror novel, an editor who lists only romance and women’s fiction novels on their list of edited titles or their description of what they work on likely isn’t a good fit for your project.
Make a list of three to five editors that you might want to work with. Contact each of those editors via the email address or contact form listed on their website about your project so you can get a range of quotes and availabilities.
How to Sound Professional When You Email a Freelance Editor
Once you’ve found a few editors that you think might be a good fit for your project, it’s time to start contacting them. But what do you tell them? Don’t write something like the query I recently received from an author. The entire email was something like this:
Are you still accepting manuscripts for editing?
Yup, that’s all the email said. I replied asking if they were looking for an editor. Their reply to that email was:
Are you as frustrated as I was? It took two more emails to figure out what their book was and what type of editing they were looking for.
The most important thing to remember when you are querying potential freelance editors is that as much as you’re trying to figure if you want to work with us, we’re also judging if we want to work with you. So be professional.
When contacting a freelance editor about your manuscript, include the following information in your first email:
- Your name
- The title of your manuscript
- The genre of your manuscript
- A one to three sentence summary of your manuscript
- The intended audience of your manuscript
- The word count of your manuscript
- What type of editing you’re looking for
- The timeline for edits (if there is one)
That may seem like a lot of information, but it’s all necessary info for an editor to get a sense of what the project is. We’re all busy people, so including all this necessary information up front in one place saves everyone from having to spend time sending a bunch of emails back and forth.
If you’re asking for a quote for what the price of editing your manuscript would be and how long that would take, the editor needs to know the manuscript details (genre, summary, word count) and the type of editing you’re looking for. Editing is a catch-all word for a whole range of services. Please, don’t just say you need your manuscript “edited.”
Most editors base the price of their editing services on the number of words and a price per word range for each kind of editing. Many editors, myself included, will ask for a sample of the manuscript (about 5-10 pages) so they can get a sense of the writing style, how much work the manuscript needs, and how long it will take them. This allows us to customize a quote for you and gives you an idea of what you’ll receive from us when we edit your manuscript.
And remember, if you have a tight timeline for your project, you’ll likely need to pay more for editorial services. Many freelance editors schedule work months in advance. If they want to work on your manuscript, they’ll likely need to shift other projects in their schedule or work longer hours than usual.
Another reason the editor needs the details of a manuscript is to figure out if they want to work on your project. We all do better work on projects we enjoy. If your manuscript is about a theme or topic that the author knows they don’t like, it’s best for everyone if they let you know they’re not interested right away rather than after spending time doing a sample edit and pricing out a quote and figuring out scheduling availability.
If you make an editor’s job easier by providing all the info they need right away, they will be much more inclined to want to work with you. Show a potential editor right away that you’re professional and easy to work with.
How to Choose an Editor
When you’ve gotten quotes from your shortlist of potential editors, compare the prices, the sample edits, and the overall experience.
An editor-author relationship is as much about the relationship as it is about editorial skills and affordable price points.
- Did you like the editor’s communication style?
- Did their sample edit give you helpful feedback in a way that you can understand?
- Did the revisions in the sample edit maintain or enhance your vision for your book?
- Was their tone friendly, professional, and supportive?
- Did they stick to the timeline they gave you? (E.g., They said they’d get the sample edit to you in two days, and they got it back to you within that timeframe.)
- Did you get a good vibe that they understand what you’re going for in your manuscript and that they liked it?
Yes, price is an important part of selecting an editor. You want to be able to afford the fee and find it reasonable and worth it. If you don’t like working with that person and don’t think they will treat your manuscript with care and passion, they probably aren’t the best option. So get a handful of quotes, communicate with a few different editors, and find the best fit for your book baby.
Once you’ve selected an editor and have started contracting and scheduling with them, please consider sending a friendly note to the other editors to thank them for their time and let them know you’ve gone with a different editor. We appreciate not being left hanging.
Photos by Georgie Cobbs and Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash