Many people could hang out their shingles and call themselves freelance editors, but just because someone has an MFA or talks a good talk, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have what your work needs. This is why I recommend a paid editing test before you agree to work with an editor.
What is a paid editing test?
In a paid editing test, the author provides the editor with a short selection of a longer work that needs to be edited—usually twenty to thirty pages, no more than a couple of chapters. The editor does her magic and provides feedback on the work. This gives the author of the work a chance to see what the editor has to offer. It also gives the editor a chance to gauge the level of time and attention the work will likely need and decide if she has that time in her schedule.
Most freelance editors charge by the hour, and the paid editing test is no different. In theory, the test shouldn’t take more than a few hours, but depending on the state of the work, it may need extra time and attention. You might want to agree up front on a time limit for the test. For example, a sample of 20 pages (typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman, size 12) could take anywhere from two to five hours to edit depending on its level of need.
When you work with an editor, you want both the author and editor to have an overall positive experience. Starting with a paid editing test can give both parties a sense of what the other is like to work with. You want an editor who is detail-oriented and accurate. She should understand what you are trying to accomplish and support you in delivering your message without changing your written voice. The editor wants clients who are available to answer questions that might affect the speed of work, appreciate the value of what is being offered, and of course, pay their invoices on time. The paid editing test is a great way to have a taste of what you are both getting when you enter into an agreement for editing of a much longer work.
I, personally, no longer offer proof-reading/copy-editing services. I have re-focused my own services to developmental editing/writing coaching, so please reach out if this is what you are looking for. I hope this article helps you with a sense of what to expect from a paid editing test with an editor.