When you write, whatever it is — a book, short story, academic paper, article, presentation, or blog post — you want it to look and sound its best. This statement holds true whether you are writing for academia, education, business, a nonprofit, or love of the art itself. Whether you are a professional writer or required to write as part of your studies or job, you need an editor. An editor, as the first reader of your writing, lends a critical eye to your work and analyzes it from an objective perspective. An editor also adds the final polish by proofreading your work to ensure your words read clearly and smoothly.
If you don’t have the advantage of an editor at your fingertips and you need one quickly, consider using an editing service. These companies offer copy editing, ESL editing, proofreading, and critiques, in a variety of categories, including academia, business, medical, science, and technology. They support novelists with their writing process, job seekers with resumes, companies with no editing staff, students preparing their thesis, or anyone who needs an extra set of eyes on their work before publishing.
I recently ventured out as a freelancer, which includes working for an editing service, something I was previously unaware that existed from the comforts of my corporate job. I’ve since learned a lot about editing service companies in general and how they work. If you need an editor and you’ve never used this type of service before, know what to look for and expect when choosing an editing service for your project.
After all, a good editor is worth their weight in gold.
1. Submitting a project is easy
Many of the editorial service companies I’ve come across offer an online submission form. Some companies invite first-time clients to submit a small piece of writing for a sample edit, a try-and-buy feature of the service. This option is a good way to see if you like the company and the editor’s work before you submit a larger project for editing.
You can submit a variety of formats, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, PDF, LaTex, and OpenOffice. (Acceptable formats vary by company.) To see the changes that are made during the edit, submit a Word, OpenOffice, or similar format so the editor can track the changes and comments that they make. Only after your original manuscript is professionally edited, submit a PDF only for proofreading.
2. You can request custom edits
You have several options in terms of what you want in the edit. For example, you can specify the style guide you need the editor to follow, including your own custom or in-house style guide. Commonly used style guides include American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style, Associated Press (AP), American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago Manual of Style, and Harvard.
You can indicate the areas or issues in your document that you want the editor to pay attention to. You can also request the editor to review or exclude certain sections, such as previously edited text, notes, or references. And, you can ask the editor to do a basic edit or a more detailed edit (tough edit).
Non-native English speakers can request ESL editing. If you choose this option, consider requesting a longer turnaround time for your project because, based on my experience, ESL edits tend to require more changes compared to a non-ESL edit. You can also request the English dialect you need, whether American, Australian, British, or Canadian, to more accurately reflect your voice.
When you receive your edited work, you can be confident that the editor added the right touch to your words to make your writing stand out.
3. A professional editor reviews your work
Editorial service companies go through a screening process to ensure that only experienced, professional editors review your work. First, they look for editors who have extensive writing and editing backgrounds in medical, business, technology, journalism, nonfiction, and novel areas. Second, they give candidates an editing test to measure their capabilities, how they evaluate a document, and the types of suggestions they make.
After an editor is hired, they might undergo additional training provided by the company to help ensure that all editors understand the company’s protocols and practices for working with clients. The company might also perform regular quality checks on their work to ensure the editors are meeting the basic requirements in their assignments.
These service companies have both freelance editors and in-house editors to balance the workload. Because they tend to hire editors around the world, these companies can support a global clientele, offer around-the-clock service, and accommodate English dialects.
Depending on the company you choose, you might not actually know or have direct contact with the editor who reviews your work. However, if you are satisfied with the work that an editor does on your document, you can request the same person to work on future projects. After all, a good editor is worth their weight in gold.
4. Turnaround times are fast
Turnaround times are typically within one-day, two-days, three-days, or one week. Again, each company might vary in this regard and might even offer hourly return times.
Once you submit your document for editing, an editor reviews any special notes you have for the edit. If you submit your project in Word or Open Office, they will turn on track changes before they edit. Then, the editor goes through the document, doing a one-pass, solid review. In this pass, they evaluate your writing for style, grammar, spelling, tone, ambiguities, and repetition, overall organization, flow, clarity, and more. They mark changes and make suggestions for how you can improve your content. Then, before they return the file to you, they go back and do a quick check of their work to make sure their comments and changes make sense.
In just a short time, the editor transforms your project to reflect your best work. Before the editor returns your document, they write a short summary in an email about the work they completed. They might highlight areas where they made several changes or areas that need more work or clarification. When you receive the edited document, you can be confident that the editor added the right touch to your words to make your writing stand out.
When you only have one chance to make a good impression in your content, an editing service can provide just the polish you need.
5. Prices are affordable
The price that you pay is based on the word count of your document, the type of service you need, and the length of turnaround time that you choose. The faster your turnaround time is, the higher the price is. You can reduce the price by asking for a longer turnaround time.
For example, you might submit a business document that is 2,000 words long and select the business editing service. You might pay US$120 to have it edited and returned within a day or US$65 to have it edited within a week. (Price estimates vary by company and are rounded up for this example.) You do not pay more for any special requests, such as style guide, ESL editing, or if you need the editor to be tougher in the edit.
If you are a business or company that does not have onsite editors, investing in an editing service to review your company materials, your website, and your web content is worth every penny. When you only have one chance to make a good impression in your content, an editing service can provide just the polish you need.
Find the right service
Although I’m not at liberty to say who I work for or how you can find me through the service, I can assure you that these services work. I’ve had a few satisfied and repeat clients of my own who’ve found my efforts worth their investment. If you give an editing service a try and like what you see, be sure to thank your editor. Your positive feedback can go a long way.
The information provided in this post is solely based on my observations and not reflective of any particular editing service company. As you search for a company to help with your next writing project, keep in mind that services and prices may vary.
To help you get started in your search, here are some broader-scope editing service companies that I came across in a quick Google search:
Thanks for reading! See my latest work:
Coding a Brighter Future (now available on Amazon!)
After over 20 years as a writer and editor in technology and business, I took the plunge to work as a freelancer and now own j.servais | creative content. I specialize in technology, business, and marketing-related writing and editing. I’m a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). Learn more about me at jservais.com.