Things to Consider When Hiring a Copy Editor

By Jamie Hill - 1 March 2022

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Copy editors are an essential part of the publishing process, and their job is to ensure that your writing is error-free. But besides grammar, punctuation, and spelling, a copy editor also ensures that the style of the writing flows. Because they can really polish your work and make it shine, it's important to consider a few things when hiring a copy editor in order to ensure you'll hire the right one for your project.

 

1. Experience

To no one surprise, the first thing you want to consider is how much experience a copy editor has. There are lots of copy editors out there, especially in English-speaking countries, which means that you have the opportunity to be as picky as you'd like. If you search for UK copy editors for hire, you might find that there's really no reason for you to choose anyone that's not at the very top of their field. While it's not impossible for someone that's just starting out to be really talented at what they do, you'll want to be sure that the copy editor you choose has a lot of experience working with different types of documents, knows the latest trends in grammar and punctuation, and is up-to-date on all the latest software programs that can help with editing.

2. Specialization

Just as you might specialize in a certain area of writing, copy editors can specialize too. Are you looking for someone to just check your grammar and punctuation? Or do you need someone to help with the overall style and tone of your document? Perhaps you need an editor that is familiar with your industry or subject matter. This is equally as important whether you're writing poems or a business plan. Most serious copy editors will tell you themselves whether they usually work on fiction or non-fiction, if their focus is on science or humanities texts, or if they have any other areas of specialization. Again, a copy editor does more than just correct typos - they can help make sure your writing is clear and consistent throughout. Style is a little harder to quantify, but it's important all the same. Some copy editors have their own personal style that they bring to every document. Others are more subtle and let the author's voice come through. Still, others have a very specific way of editing that they're known for. It's important to find one that meshes with your own writing style.

3. Turnaround Time

How quickly do you need your copy editor to return your document? Do you need someone to be available for a one-time edit, or do you need them to be a part of your writing team? If you're looking for a long-term relationship with someone, be prepared to spend a little more. Most good copy editors charge by the hour, and since they're usually busy people, they won't be able to turn around your document in a day or two. It's important to find someone that can work with your schedule and turnaround time. Of course, you want the turnaround time to be realistic. Efficiency comes with experience, but if they say that they can edit an entire manual in less than a week, be careful - the speed might be at the cost of quality.

4. Rates

Speaking of rates, this is something you'll definitely want to consider. To start, consider how much you're willing to spend on the editing process. Copy editors can charge by the hour, by the word, or by the project, so it's important to know what your budget is before you begin interviewing candidates. Keep in mind that the best copy editors are usually in high demand, and they can afford to be selective about their clients. Once you have a price range in mind, start researching different copy editors. Ask for quotes from a few and compare them. Remember, you get what you pay for, so be prepared to spend a little more for someone that is really going to polish your work. That said, it's possible to find really good editors in the mid-range as well. However, the ones with the most affordable rates are usually either just starting out - so you can't really count on their experience - or they might not be as good at their job.

5. Specific Services

Copy editors can offer a variety of specific services beyond the basics of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. For example, some copy editors are also experts in layout and design, so they can help with the overall look and feel of your document. Others are familiar with different publishing software programs and can help you make the most of them. Still, others are experts in copywriting and can help you tighten up your prose. If you're not sure what specific services you need, ask the copy editor what they offer. They should be more than happy to tell you. While there's a lot of jargon and terminology in the editing world - practically every editing service has its own name - a good copy editor will be able to explain things in terms you can understand.

6. Certification

There are a few different organizations that offer certification for copy editors, and they usually require some sort of exam. Certification tells you that the copy editor has a basic understanding of the editing process and knows the rules of grammar, punctuation, and style. It can also be related to a specific niche they cater to. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're good at their job, but it's a start. If you're looking for someone with a lot of experience, certification might not be as important to you, but it's something to keep in mind if you're considering someone that's only recently entered the field.

7. References And Testimonials

Finally, don't forget to ask for references and testimonials from past clients. A good copy editor will have no problem giving you a list of satisfied customers. If they can't or won't provide you with references, that's a red flag and you should keep looking. References are especially important because they can give you an idea of the editor's style and how well they work with clients. Alongside that, a good copy editor will also provide you with samples of their work, so you can get a better idea of what to expect. Looking at a copy editor's previous work is a great way to determine if their style is a good fit for you and your project.

Copy editors are an essential part of the publishing process, but finding the right one for your project can be tricky. There are a few things to consider when hiring a copy editor, including rates, specific services, certification, and references. So before you start interviewing candidates, make sure you know what you need and what you're willing to spend.

 
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