Using An Editing Company vs. A Self-Employed Literary Editor

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on November 25, 2012 at 3:20 AM

If you're in the process of finding the right editor for you and your book, you may ask: Should you choose a larger company that offers editing services or should you opt for a self-employed literary editor? 


Large Editing Companies

Choosing a large company gives you security: You'll be paying for a service and can rest assured that you'll get your product (unlike some shady freelance editors). Though a large company may seem like the better idea at first, there are several things to consider:

1. Large companies will almost always charge more for services.

Simply because they have many employees to pay and overhead costs for their business, large companies must charge more to cover their fees. It's basic math, and a fact of business. But is it worth the extra cost to go with a company?

2. Large companies fail to make that personal connection with you and your manuscript.

I can speak this point from example. Because there are so many different employees involved in a large company, you are just "another client" on their list, and yours is just "another manuscript" they're sending through the mill. I've done my share of research in talking with large editing companies (who shall remain unnamed here) and even having them edit a couple of my short stories. At the end, I wasn't impressed with the lack of personalized service.

3. With larger editing companies, you often have multiple editors working on your manuscript.

Some people might see this as a good thing, but I see a lot of opportunity for confusion and error. What if one editor shapes your book one way, then, halfway through, another editor starts editing that is contradictory to the first editor's work? The chances of conflicting subplots, character developments, and inconsistent editing styles increases with multiple editors working on the same manuscript.

4. Large companies are closed after normal business hours and on weekends.

Corporations have very strict hours—most are open Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00. The chances of reaching them after hours are minimal to none. What happens if it's Friday evening and you need a small project done over the weekend?

Self-Employed Literary Editors

After looking at a list of larger editing companies, hiring a qualified, literary editor who owns their own business seems to have more benefits.

1. Generally, self-employed editors are generally less expensive than editing companies.

Most self-employed editors work from a home office or a shared office. There are no additonal employees to pay and overhead fees (Internet, phone, and utilities, for example) are minimal—that means, as a rule, these editors' prices are lower than major editing companies.

2. Self-employed editors give more personalized service.

Because you only interact with ONE person (the editor) for the price quote, explaining the project, and the delivery, you get to know the editor on a deeper level—and the editor gets to know your project intimately. Speaking directly with the editor means there is no chance for miscommunication or confusion. Plus, the personalized service often leads to a higher quality of work. (You can see more about this under #4 of the "5 Reasons Why You Should Hire Me" article!)

3. Self-employed editors are sometimes negotiable on prices.

Often, freelance editors will use an hourly or a per-word or per-page rate to determine a ballpark price. In some cases, freelance editors will negotiate to find a flat rate that works for both the editor and the client depending on the level of edit and the subject material.

4. Some editors are available during off-hours, holidays, and sometimes 24/7.

Editors set their own schedules, which means some might be available until 2:00 AM! (Not me, sorry—I'm sleeping then!) The best editors are often available to answer your questions via e-mail far after regular business hours. (I'm guilty of that.) When the rare frantic last-minute editing project arises after regular business hours, you're more likely to get service from a self-employed editor than a company.

Choosing a freelance editor for the job is a win-win. Personally, I've selected to create my own business as a literary editor because I love building relationships with every client I work with and making a personal connection with manuscripts I edit. I could never imagine working for someone else, when my clients are so happy with the work I provide at Kristen Corrects.

I know the industry and I know what larger editing services offer. I'm big on personalized service—and maybe you are too. In fact, that's part of the reason why I founded my business instead of choosing to work for a massive company. That personal connection is everything.

No matter what you do, be sure to do your homework before selecting the editor who is right for you.

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Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.

Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.

Categories: book editing

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