How to get what you want, what you really, really want.

* from your editor

You’ve written your book, your article, your business brochure or your website. If you are lucky you have a publisher who can arrange an editor for you, if not you have to go out into the big wide world and find one for yourself.

That’s daunting.

However, there are many great editors out there. After a trawl of the internet and finding a website such as mine (I don’t just write, I work too… yes, you can hire me), a look through a few directories of editors, such as on the SfEP or the EFA websites, or through word of mouth, you will hopefully have found an editor who ticks all your boxes. What next?

When you contact an editor, the way to get the best from the business relationship is to tell them everything. The more an editor knows, the easier their work will be, and in turn it will be easier for you both.

First of all, when you approach an editor, let them know what you need. The more detailed your brief, the easier it will be for the editor to translate that into what you really need.

The easiest way to do this is to get together a briefing document. Think hard about what you want the end result to be at the start of the process and it will save time later.

I’ve put together a list for you, it’s not a be-all and end-all, tailor it to meet your needs but it will make you think and will ease the pain of giving over your project to the professional with the Big Red Pen.

red pen

What is your document, how long is it (how many words / pages) and what is it about. Heavily academic, or for general readership?

Is it a 1,500 word article on the use of radio frequency monitoring for a paranormal research journal, or a 35,000 word romance novella for the teenage market? It’s important for your editor to know the intended audience and level of readership.

How it will be published?

Is it an e-book, traditional printed book, brochure, flyer, menu, website?

Are there language issues?

British English or American English, are you a non-native speaker, has the document been translated?

What’s the timescale and delivery date?

How long do you have? Is there a publishing schedule, and is there a non-negotiable date that the document needs to be in by? What is the date you would like to take delivery from your editor? Are you leaving plenty of time for the editor to do their job properly?

Do you want a proofread, a light edit or a heavy substantial edit?

Do you want a light proofread, minimal intervention editing, restructuring if necessary or a bit of re-writing? Are you using electronic tags, codes or styles in your work that the editor needs to be aware of?

Often people think they need a document proofread when they really need an edit. Make sure you know what you need. Pop over to the SfEP page to see a quick FAQ on the differences if you are unsure

How will you supply the material to be edited?

Is it on paper, on a disc or memory-stick, via email or downloadable from a remote website such as MailBigFile. Is it all ready now or will some of it come along later, and when can it be expected?

What exactly is to be included?

Do you want a text only edit, or are there illustrations/photos/diagrams/tables etc. Do you expect the editor to work on cover copy, running heads, references, footnotes, endnotes etc.? Do you already have copyright permissions arranged or do you want your editor to do this for you? Do illustrations need to be scaled or worked on and are captions to be written by the editor?

Do you have a house style?

Many publishing houses have their own house style – a document giving information on spelling, layout, preferred terms etc. Do you have your own, one you are required to work to, or are you content to let the editor use his or her professional judgement?

Have any agreements been arranged that the editor needs to know about?

Has anything been promised that the editor needs to know about? Such as acknowledgements or items to be used in certain ways.

Contact details

Who will the editor liaise with when queries arise? Give all relevant contact details both of yourself and anyone else involved in the publication of the document that the editor will need to be in contact with. Be sure to give your editor not only your email address, but telephone number and physical address – they’ll need that for their records and invoices.

Document example pages

Give your editor some representative samples of your work. It could be a sample chapter, a few pages or the whole document if it is small enough. This will allow your editor to make a reasoned estimate of the time it will take to work on your document, and also what level of edit it may need.


Once all the relevant details are noted you will need to be upfront with the editor about your budget. A quick proofread will cost less that a substantial edit. While budget is important, you must remember that you will get what you pay for… it’s much easier to know ahead of time what your budget will allow for. Before accepting work, both you and your editor must be clear about what work is to be done. Ask what expenses are included in the price and what will be charged separately for.

Nearly there…

finish line

When you have agreed everything with your editor there are a few final things to tick off. Make sure…

  • You both know what has been agreed (level of edit, timescale and fee).
  • You have given all contact details and if there is a preferred way to contact you, and also that the editor can get hold of you quickly if there are unforeseen problems e.g. with scale of work or budget.
  • You know what expenses are included in the fee, and what are not.
  • If the project is confidential make sure that the editor is aware of this.
  • You have backup copies of everything you send to your editor. Insure against loss or damage in transit, and never send original artwork unless it is absolutely necessary and agree beforehand.
  • If you would like the editor to keep copies of correspondence/work done, have you agreed this and specified a time-scale?
  • That if the editor needs to hand over notes or a style sheet to a designer or typesetter, they know this in advance of the project starting.

Sounds complicated?

It isn’t really, but it will be worth the effort, and makes for a good editor/client relationship.

10 Reasons Your Business Needs An Editor

Does this sound familiar? Your business is up and running, you’ve put in more hours than you’d care to count, there’s been blood, sweat and tears but you’ve got there. It’s your baby and you want to watch it grow.

Or perhaps you are an established business, with a client base you’re proud of; you could be a sole-trader or a multi-based conglomerate. You could be a blogger, an e-trader, service provider, a shop, distributor or manufacturer. In fact you can be anything you want to be in today’s business community. But every single one of you will benefit at some point from hiring an editor or proofreader.

Don’t believe me? Read on, here are ten reasons your business needs an editor:

 thinking businessman

1. An editor is a communications specialist, an architect of your written content, a pernickety purveyor of perfection for your publications. You are a specialist in your field… so are we.

2. An editor will eliminate all those errors that a computerised spell-check can’t.  Spelling, grammar, punctuation and layout will be given a clean bill of health.

3. An editor will help you get your message across efficiently and in your own words…we won’t re-write unless you ask us to (that’s a copywriter’s job really), we advise on how to correct aspects of your writing and we respect your business’s “voice”. Your written word is enhanced not altered.

communication business dictionary

4. An editor will make sure that the information in your documents is readable and in a tone that your clients will understand.

5. An editor will help you understand when and when not to use jargon – there’s no point in using your industry’s specialist language if your intended audience won’t understand it.

6. An editor will make sure that your style is fit for purpose. Sometimes simple is best, but sometimes you will want your document style to be complex. We can help you figure it out.

document stack

7. An editor will look through your work with a sympathetic eye and can give you examples of how to improve it if that’s what you require.

8. Hiring an editor frees up your time, allowing you to concentrate on running your business.

9. Not everyone feels confident around words, sometimes you just need a little extra help.


10. An editor will quite simply, make your documents look fabulous.

If after all that you are still not sure, or think that editors only work on books, an editor can help you get the best from ALL of your written work. If you are a business I’ll bet you have some of these…

Booklets / leaflets


Annual reports

Flyers and advertising / promotional items

Ingredients lists – you won’t believe how many times I’ve seen ingredient spelt  incorrectly!


Press releases


So go on, don’t be shy… if you need help, ask an editor. That’s what we are here for!

Social Media – the #HireMe #FireMe water-cooler effect

Social Media is a wonderful thing. It allows us to keep in touch with family and friends, and allows us to fill our leisure time with frivolous websites (often for some reason including cats or sloths). The number of hours you can waste in your “free time” is truly astounding, pop onto YouTube to catch the latest Weird Al video and before you know it four hours have vanished. We’ve all done it in some form or another. But Social Media is also wonderful for networking.

It’s widely acknowledged that whether you are a freelancer or employed in a more conventional way, social media is a way of keeping up with your industry and meeting people. In the last few years there has been such an explosion that it’s virtually impossible to join every network and still have time to work. There is however one upside to social media that can’t be ignored…it can lead to employment.

Let’s concentrate on that first shall we?

watercooler, businessman, businesswoman, business


I’ve been doing a little digging lately. During one of my “lost afternoons” reading through numerous business blogs (ok, the link isn’t to a business blog, it’s of Caithness but see…distracted!), I came across an article noting how people are using Twitter for finding work, mostly using hashtags. Yes, the place is like a giant water-cooler or staffroom, attracting people from all areas of business, meeting for an impromptu chat, and with these informal chats you often get the best leads and ideas. So I asked people over on Twitter, how many of them had actually found work through the site using hashtags. I did some research myself and found a lot of people use the #hireme hashtag, and also to a lesser extent #forhire. There were also a few #gizajob’s but I very much doubt that these resulted in any gainful employment.

#Freelance and #job seem to be widely used by people doing the actual hiring, and by mixing your hashtags you can narrow down your search to something more relevant to your needs. Don’t just take the “Top” listings, click on “all” and use the little cogwheel on the right-hand side to do an advanced search, and you don’t always need put in the hashtag, but its nice if you do. Of course you have to search frequently to avoid those old and out of date jobs, and you will get other conversations but it makes for interesting reading.

Be warned though, at the moment it seems as though the majority of companies advertising their posts via Twitter like this are American, and/or IT based. I wonder if this is because America is more upfront about what it wants and knows how to get it, and the IT crews are obviously utilising IT to get what they want?

So…did any of my contacts find jobs? Erm, yes actually, and it came down to two main ways – recruitment agencies and companies advertising their jobs via their twitter feed, which were then found either by accident or by being followed, and through relationships built up through interacting with “followers”. The main way seems to be by freelancers talking to their peers or industry co-workers, then getting leads or being offered work. If you build up a relationship that is mutually beneficial then you are more likely to be seen and offered work. And of course you can let people know you have a gap in your schedule.

So, if you are looking for work the best thing is to make yourself seen, don’t be shy and build a rapport with your industry.

But there’s also a downside to the Twitter / Work relationship.

twitter bird


Now, we’ve all seen the negative side of mixing business and pleasure. When it makes the national news…someone says something totally stupid and, before you can think up a quirky #hashtag, the offending tweet has gone viral, is splashed all over the papers (both online and in print) and the offender is swiftly removed from his or her post or has to write a grovelling apology and delete their account. Most of the time it’s just an off the cuff comment that gets blown up, but it can be devastating for the person involved.

When using Social Media you have to be aware that we live in a time where boundaries are blurred. There is nowhere to hide. Don’t for a minute think that if you have a “personal” account as well as a “business” one, that those stupid, idiotic, drunken tweets won’t be seen by your employers (or… shock, horror… potential employers). They will, whether they let on or not.

We’re all human, and we all say stupid things some times. But can you honestly say that you have never Googled someone, or looked at their Twitter profile to see what they are really like… especially if you want to work with them? Employers do that too!

Oops! Road Sign with Dramatic Blue Sky.


I like to think that in the days of Social Media we are more approachable… but it also means we are living in a virtual goldfish bowl.

So if you are looking for work, or just interested in what’s out there here’s a few simple tips:

  1. Treat Twitter like a virtual staff-room – and remember every staff room has its nosy-parker, its snitch and its go-to-guy or gal.
  2. Tweeter beware – think before you tweet
  3. Be pro-active – they’re not going to know you are looking for work unless you tell them.
  4. Be friendly – you never know where a relationship will lead.
  5. Be yourself – let people see the loveable, hard-working, employable you.
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