Yesterday, I shared my experience with using Elance to find my copyeditor. Elance, like guru.com or Odesk, is a virtual network of freelance workers in a variety of fields (web design, marketing, programming, virtual assistant, writing/editing) seeking work on a contract basis. These contractors come from all over the world and compete for business by placing bids on projects for individuals and businesses that either have a temporary need or may not have the resources to hire someone on a permanent basis. If you are in need of a copyeditor, web designer, or any resource to assist you in your writing or marketing, it is worth considering using a source like Elance. Definitely do your due diligence first, so you don’t wind up losing money to a contractor that is inexperienced or a website that claims to match you up with a contractor but in actuality, will rip you off. Below are a few tips if you decide to go “to the cloud”.
1. You get what you pay for: There are some copyeditors out there that will edit your MS for a few hundred dollars. However, they will likely be inexperienced or just not that good. You can find a good copyeditor without breaking your bank. Just be realistic about your budget. Definitely be specific in your RFP (request for proposal) and ask the potential editor questions about their experience, turnaround time, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples. The good ones will be more than willing to share, if they don’t already have it in their online portfolios.
2. Be mindful of language/cultural barriers: Once you submit your RFP, expect proposals from everywhere – America, UK, India, Australia, etc. While all are English-speaking, there are differences in wording and language. I had one bidder mistake my reference to a “two-story house” as a “second-story flat” and my sample pages were changed to reflect that.
3. Check his/her credentials: There are a ton of copyeditors out there, but not every copyeditor is the same. I had several bids from very experienced editors, however their experience was limited to textbooks or business editing. If you need a novel edited, make sure the person you choose has experience in creative writing and/or editing fiction. Basically, find the editor that will best suit your need.
4. Listen to your gut. I knew pretty much instantly when I got the bid from my editor that I was going to choose her. She was interested in the story, had the experience, and was within budget and timing. She connected with me and was very personable, even though we only communicated by email and the Elance workspace.
5. As always, read the fine print and make sure you understand the terms of the agreement you’re making with the person you’ve chosen. Most of the contractors will have contracts ready because like you, they need to protect themselves. One good thing about Elance is that they will get involved in dispute resolution if an issue were to arise between you and the contractor.
Finding a copyeditor in this manner isn’t for everyone. Some writers need to at least speak with the editor over the phone if not meet with them face to face. Some are leery of sending money through the internet. Elance, by the way, has a system called escrow – where you deposit the funds and it stays there until the project is completed (or whatever the terms of your agreement are with the contactor), then the money is released upon reaching milestones or completion of the project. Escrow isn’t necessary for every project though. However, it’s nice to know it’s there because you know the contractor isn’t paid until the work is done and the contractor knows that he/she will be paid because the money is being “held” in a safe, secure place. The other contract/freelance sites likely have a similar service.
Whatever route you choose with the editing of your manuscript, be it virtual or traditional, these tips should be of some help. Editing is a “must do” for the serious writer. It’s your story, so it is important to find an editor that will enhance your work and improve your writing.