I come across a lot of “I need a proofreader/editor/ghostwriter” type of posts that leave me cold. Many are so vague I automatically dismiss them as scams. However, if you have a manuscript you want written or a manuscript you want edited, then there’s a smart way to find a writer or an editor. It all begins with posting your project on the proper platform. There are many. Options include:

  • The Editorial Freelancers Association
  • Gotham Ghostwriters
  • Reedsy
  • LinkedIn
  • All Freelance Jobs
  • Freelance Writing Job Board
  • Writers Work
  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • And many more …

Understand that platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, Textbroker, WriterAccess, Freelancer.com, etc. cater to what I call lowest common denominator projects. Low-budget clients populate these platforms, and low-bid vendors vie for those projects in a race to the bottom. They’re predatory and exploitive and teeming with scammers on both the client and vendor sides.

Let’s be candid: you can find someone to write or edit your content anywhere. If you go to any social media platform and post something saying you want to hire a freelance writer or editor, then you’ll receive a plethora of responses from mostly unqualified, unskilled vendors, many of whom will be scammers who want to take your money and run without doing any work.

Safeguard yourself and avoid wasting time—your time and vendors’ time. That requires specifics. You don’t have to reveal your story or idea in its entirety. That’s not necessary. You should provide the following basic information:

  1. Type of service. Do you know what service you need? If so, specify it. If not, do some research and figure it out.
  2. Fiction or nonfiction? This is a basic distinction, as most writers and editors specialize.
  3. Genre. If your nonfiction project a how-to, memoir, inspirational piece, or something else? Is your fiction project mystery, fantasy, romance, science fiction, young adult, children’s literature, or something else? Be as specific as you can here, and if your project spans genres, then list those genres. If your project contains explicit, NSFW (not suitable for work) content, then specify that, too. Professional writers and editors will not bid on work that does not suit their skills and interests.
  4. Length. This refers to word count, not the number of pages or chapters. If you’re hiring a ghostwriter, then provide an estimated word count.
  5. Deadline. If you don’t have a deadline for delivery, say so; however, if you do, then mention that. Responses from vendors may indicate that your deadline is unreasonable and should be pushed back. Use that information to adjust your schedule or your expectations accordingly. Vendors who cannot accommodate your deadline will not bid on your project.
  6. Budget. This is really important. Before throwing a monetary figure out there, get an idea as to what you should expect to spend. The Editorial Freelancers Association publishes a guideline to professional editing and writing rates based on what its members actually charge. Understand that these rates may exceed your budget, which means you’ll either have to save up until you can afford skilled professional services, arrange a payment plan with a vendor of choice, or adjust your expectations accordingly. Vendors who will not accept the budget for your project will not bid on it.

The purpose of providing all that information is to avoid wasting your time and the vendor’s time. Professionals will not bid on projects that don’t suit them; therefore, you won’t waste your time reviewing proposals that don’t meet your requirements.

When you do come up with a short list of likely candidates for hire, you’ll want to assure yourself of a good match. That means asking for samples.

To hire an editor, ask for a sample edit. A sample is just that: a sample ranging from 500 to 1,500 words. A sample edit demonstrates how the editor will treat your work and informs the editor of how much work your content needs. The editor may adjust his or her fees accordingly, because a hot mess of a manuscript requires a lot more time and effort and skill to edit than does one that’s clean and well-written. (HINT: Save yourself some money and submit only your best work for editing.)

To hire a writer, ask to see writing samples. A professional writer will have a portfolio of published work you can read to determine if you like his or her writing style. Do not request the writer to write content for you as a sample unless you’re willing to pay for that sample: that’s considered unpaid work and exploitive—a huge red flag that you’re not a client that writer wants.

Another facet of hiring a professional writer or editor is a contract. A pro will offer you a contact that explains the service being hired, the parameters of the project, the fees to be charged (and paid), and the deadlines (guaranteed or estimated) for completion, terms for delivery, and terms for terminating the contract. Understand that sometimes a deadline isn’t feasible, such as with ongoing work like editing a series of articles that have yet to be written.

One last thing: communication. It’s been my experience that any potential client who wants to communicate with me via Skype chat, Telegram, or WhatsApp is a scammer. Some like to communicate via Facebook Messenger or LinkedIn’s messaging, but I prefer to move them off that platform as quickly as possible because it’s clunky and inconvenient. Facebook Messenger, I’ve found, is another favorite purview of scammers. I offer clients access to me via telephone and email. Anything else is unnecessary.

Are you looking for skilled, professional service in writing, editing, proofreading, or book design? If so, contact me at henhousepublishing@gmail.com. Don’t forget to visit my portfolio of work.

Every word counts.