Everything you need to know about sample edits

When looking for editors, you’ll hear the term sample edit thrown around a lot. But what is it exactly? How big is it? Is it free?

Here’s everything you need to know about sample edits:

What is a sample edit?

A sample edit is when an editor edits a part of your manuscript before you sign any contract or agreement. It’s beneficial for both parties.

As a writer, you get to see how the editor works. Do you like their commenting style? Do you like most of the edits they made? Did they deliver the manuscript on time? Etc. It’s a way for you to test the waters and see if you’d like their services.

As an editor, I get more information on the project. For example, I can see if a proofreading job is a proofreading job instead of a copyediting one in disguise. Sometimes, it’s hard to see what kind of edit a story needs until you have it in your hands.

We usually time ourselves to see how long the sample takes us to edit. We can then get a better estimate of how long the whole editing project will take and how much we should charge for our time and expertise.

We also get to see if we are a good fit for the project. A part of the editor’s job is to make the text better without leaving their footprint. We need to understand the writer’s style while helping the story grow. It’s hard to do this if we do not feel connected to the story, if the story isn’t in our genre, etc. Sometimes, a story isn’t a good fit.

How big is a sample edit?

This depends, but they’re generally about the first five pages of your manuscript in standard format. I’ve seen some editors ask for the first one thousand words.

The editor sets this up since it’s their time they’re setting aside to do the edit.

Are sample edits free?

It depends on the editor. I do not charge for sample edits at the moment, but I know a lot of editors who do.

For me, a sample edit takes up about two hours of my time. I usually set time aside to complete them over the weekend.

A free sample is like a handshake as I get to know you as the writer, and you get to know me as an editor. It also gives me the chance to ease writers’ minds about editors and the editing process. Editing can seem daunting, and I’ve seen many writers (myself included) worry about how editing will turn out. Since sample edits have no commitments, I can show how helpful editing can be for free.

But I also see the value of charging for sample edits. Editors take time away from paid work or important marketing time to do a sample edit. Their schedules can be tight, and they don’t have the availability to do free work. When I see editors charge, it’s usually about $50 to $75.

Either way, it depends on the editor, and both are valid options.

If an editor does a sample edit, do I have to hire them?

Of course not! If you get the sample edits back, and you have a weird feeling about it, you don’t have to hire them. Find the editor that makes you comfortable and helps you grow as a writer.

Hope this helps clear up what sample edits are. If you have any questions, leave a comment below!


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