Edit Like a Pro: The Ultimate Checklist for Hiring Your Novel Editor

Writing a novel is a labor of love. You’ve poured your heart and soul into crafting the perfect story, developing characters that feel like old friends, and creating a world that readers can escape into. But before you can share your masterpiece with the world, there’s one crucial step you can’t afford to overlook: editing.

Editing is the process that transforms your rough draft into a polished gem. It’s the secret sauce that turns good writing into great writing. And if you’re serious about making your novel the best it can be, it’s time to bring in a professional novel editor for hire. But how do you find the right editor for your project? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with the ultimate checklist for hiring your novel editor.

1. Determine Your Editing Needs

Before you start your search for the perfect editor, take a moment to assess your editing needs. Are you looking for someone to perform a comprehensive developmental edit, focusing on the big picture elements like plot, structure, and character development? Or do you need a copy editor to polish your prose and catch those pesky grammar and punctuation errors? Understanding your specific needs will help you find an editor with the right skills and expertise.

2. Research Potential Editors

With a clear idea of your editing needs, it’s time to start researching potential editors. Ask for recommendations from fellow writers, check out online directories, and explore editor profiles on social media and freelance platforms. Look for editors who have experience in your genre and a track record of working with authors similar to you. Reading testimonials and reviews can also provide valuable insights into an editor’s strengths and weaknesses.

3. Review Sample Edits

Once you’ve compiled a list of potential editors, request sample edits. Many editors offer this service as a way for authors to assess their editing style and determine if it’s a good fit. Pay attention to how the editor approaches your manuscript. Are they preserving your unique voice while improving clarity and coherence? A good editor should enhance your writing without imposing their own style.

4. Check Qualifications and Experience

Credentials matter. While there’s no one-size-fits-all qualification for editors, look for individuals with relevant training or experience in editing. This might include a degree in English, literature, or a related field, or professional certifications from editing associations. Additionally, consider an editor’s experience in the publishing industry. Someone who has worked for publishing houses or has a background in writing can offer valuable insights.

5. Discuss Editorial Style and Approach

Every editor has their own style and approach to editing. Some editors take a more hands-on, collaborative approach, while others may be more hands-off, providing feedback and suggestions for you to implement. Talk to potential editors about their style and how they typically work with authors. Finding an editor whose approach aligns with your preferences will make the editing process smoother and more enjoyable.

6. Set Clear Expectations

Communication is key when hiring an editor. Clearly outline your expectations and discuss important details such as deadlines, fees, and the scope of work. Make sure both parties are on the same page before entering into a formal agreement. This will help avoid misunderstandings and ensure a positive working relationship throughout the editing process.

7. Evaluate Communication Skills

An editor’s ability to communicate effectively is just as important as their editing skills. Assess their responsiveness to your initial inquiries and the clarity of their communication. A good editor should be open to answering your questions, addressing concerns, and providing regular updates on the progress of your manuscript.

8. Discuss Rates and Payment Terms

Editing services can vary widely in terms of cost. While it’s essential to stick to your budget, remember that quality editing is an investment in your writing career. Discuss rates with potential editors and inquire about their payment terms. Some editors charge by the hour, while others offer flat rates for specific services. Be sure to clarify what is included in the quoted price and if there are any additional fees.

9. Ask for References

Don’t hesitate to ask potential editors for references from previous clients. Speaking with other authors who have worked with the editor can provide valuable insights into their professionalism, reliability, and the overall quality of their editing services. A reputable editor should be more than willing to connect you with satisfied clients who can vouch for their work.

10. Consider a Trial Period

If you’re still uncertain after reviewing sample edits and references, consider proposing a trial period. This could involve hiring the editor for a limited number of hours or a specific portion of your manuscript. A trial period allows you to assess the editor’s impact on your writing and whether they are the right fit for your project.

11. Trust Your Instincts

Ultimately, trust your instincts when making a decision. If something feels off or if you have reservations about an editor, it’s okay to keep looking. The relationship between an author and an editor is a partnership, and you want someone who not only understands your vision but also respects your voice and creative choices.

12. Assess Feedback Responsiveness

During the sample edit phase, pay attention to how promptly and constructively the editor responds to your questions or concerns. A responsive editor ensures a smooth collaboration and addresses any uncertainties along the way. Effective communication fosters a positive working relationship, ensuring your vision for the novel is understood and enhanced.

13. Evaluate Attention to Detail

A meticulous editor is your best ally. Look for someone who not only corrects grammatical errors but also pays attention to the finer details of your narrative. A keen eye for consistency in character traits, plot arcs, and pacing is crucial. An editor who can fine-tune these elements ensures a cohesive and immersive reading experience for your audience.

14. Discuss Revision Support

A great editor doesn’t just provide feedback—they guide you through the revision process. Inquire about the editor’s willingness to assist with revisions and clarifications after the initial edit. A collaborative approach during revisions ensures that your novel undergoes a thorough polishing, addressing any lingering concerns or areas for improvement.

15. Verify Confidentiality Practices

Your novel is a personal creation, and confidentiality is paramount. Ensure that your potential editor has a clear policy regarding the security of your work. Discuss how they handle sensitive information, especially if your novel contains unique concepts or personal experiences. A trustworthy editor respects your intellectual property and ensures that your creative endeavors remain confidential.


Hiring a novel editor is a crucial step in the journey from manuscript to published work. By following this checklist and taking the time to find the right editor for your project, you’ll be well on your way to creating a novel that stands out in the literary world. Remember, the goal of editing is not just to correct errors but to elevate your writing to its full potential. So, embrace the editing process, work collaboratively with your chosen editor, and get ready to share your incredible story with the world. Happy editing!