How to brief an editor

In Editing by Malini Devadas

You’ve decided you’d like to work with an editor. What now? Well, the best way to ensure that your potential editor knows what you want is to send them a detailed list of all your requirements. That way, the editor can prepare an accurate quote based on your specifications. Of course, if your specifications change during the project, the contract can be re-negotiated. 

What information should be provided? Here are some suggestions:

  • Title  – This gives the editor an idea of what the document is about and whether it’s in their field of expertise or interest.
  • Word count – Most editors work out their fees based on the word count (whether that be a price per word, a price per page or working out a project cost based on the number of hours it will take). A page count is not useful, as the number of pages can change depending on font size, margins, etc.
  • Budget – If you have a limited budget, it is good to let your editor know upfront. The editor will quickly realise if the budget is inadequate and can discuss other options with you.
  • Deadline – This is critical so that the editor can determine if they can fit the job into their schedule.
  • References – How many references are in the document? Have you used referencing software or put the references in manually? What editorial style must the references follow? References can take many, many, (many!) hours to edit, so it is helpful for the editor to know how much work will be required.
  • Tables/figures – Some tables can take longer to edit than text, depending on their complexity. Letting the editor know the number of tables/figures also helps them provide an accurate quote.

The above list is just a sample of the information required. But it gives you an idea of what type of information can help an editor provide an accurate estimate of the time required for your project.

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