After you finish writing an important document like a grant application, it’s always a good idea to have it edited.
As you probably know from experience, if you’re trying to edit something you’ve written, you miss things. Because you know what you’re trying to say, your eyes will gloss over typos and mistakes like writing “their” for “there.” If your document is too long and needs to be edited to meet page requirements, as the writer, it can be hard to make cuts. A professional editor can help in these situations. They can look objectively at what you’ve written, help you make strategic edits, and catch grammatical errors you've overlooked. Editors can also work with you to resolve formatting issues.
In this post, we'll start by looking at three options for copyediting assistance. After the overview, we will segue into a review of Editorr.com, an online service that connects editing jobs to real (human) editors.
What Are Your Options for Editing?
If you are self-employed or work for an organization that doesn't have an editor on staff, three options for copyediting assistance include:
relying on your friends, family, and coworkers;
hiring a freelance editor; or
using an online service.
Friends, Family, and Co-workers
Relying on friends, family, and co-workers to edit your work has the advantage of being free. The disadvantage of having people you are close to review your work is that it can be hard to accept their feedback. Any criticism they give can feel very personal and sometimes can have a lasting impact on the relationship.
On top of risk to the relationship, there’s also an issue of quality.
Do your friends, family members, and coworkers really have the time and skill to do a thorough editing job? Most likely the answer is going to be No, they don’t, especially if we’re talking about documents longer than five pages.
Hiring a Freelance Editor
What about hiring a freelance editor to edit your document?
Advantages of working with a professional editor are many and include the ability to negotiate the scope of work. If you are working with a skilled editor, you can trust the editor to return to you a document that not only is free from grammatical errors and incorrect word choices but also one that is more concise and clear. If your document includes graphics, the editor will edit the captions and check that each graphic is numbered correctly and referenced within the body of text. They will perform a similar check (numbering, reference within text) for any text boxes.
If you are working on a grant proposal, a bonus of working with an editor is that the editor can compare your document against the proposal guidelines. They can check that your document uses the correct font and meets any page limit requirements; if your proposal is over the page limits, the editor can, through more concise language and cuts, bring your document into compliance. Additionally, editors can generate a table of contents and ensure that each abbreviation has been defined on first use. They will also generate an acronym list for you. To help with planning, when you first approach an editor, she should be able to give you an estimate of how many hours a particular editing job will take based on your description of the document's length and complexity. Once you know how long the editing job will take, you can block off the time and schedule dependent tasks accordingly such as the document's final sign-off and submission.
The disadvantages of hiring a freelance editor mainly relate to time. It can be a challenge to find someone qualified, so it helps to have lots of lead time if you need something edited; and second, the process of hiring the editor can be burdensome. Freelance editors also do not come cheap. While hourly rates vary considerably, in our experience in the northeastern US, the going rate for a freelance editor is about $50/hour.
Using a Software Program
Another option is to scan your writing with a tool such as Grammarly.*
Grammarly and other software-based services (Hemingway Editor is another example) use algorithms to identify potential grammar, word choice, and readability issues. To use Grammarly, you simply upload your document at grammarly.com. Within a minute or two, the scan will be complete, and you can review the suggested changes.
Grammarly limits how much text you can upload at any one time so it's ideal for shorter documents, although you can bypass the size limits by uploading your document in sections. On the affordability scale, Grammarly isn't bad. An annual subscription to Grammarly is $139.95. Grammarly also offers a basic free version. If you plan to rely on Grammarly as one of your main copyediting tools, you’ll want to purchase the paid version for a more comprehensive scan.
In addition to affordability, other advantages of Grammarly include that it is easy to use and delivers instant results. The disadvantage of Grammarly is that its scans cannot take the subject matter of your writing into account. As a result, Grammarly is going to miss some things and incorrectly flag others. Because of its inability to perform contextual reviews, to use Grammarly successfully, it helps to have a solid understanding of the English language. After Grammarly completes its scan, you will need to review the proposed changes carefully to confirm that they are relevant. For best results, we recommend scanning your document more than once (i.e., scan—>review edits and make changes—>scan again). For more details about Grammarly and how it works, see our post Improve Your Grant Proposals with Grammarly.
Review of Editorr.com**
For high-value documents such as grant proposals, the optimal choice is to hire a professional editor. However, sometimes you may not be able to find an editor when you need one. In the context of proposal writing, you can find yourself in a crisis if your proposal schedule slips and the editor you lined up weeks ago cannot work under the new timeline. For unforeseen circumstances like this, having access to an editing service that you can tap into at a moment's notice can be invaluable. This is where Editorr.com steps in. Through its network of editors, Editorr.com offers 24/7 coverage.
Editorr.com’s services include reviewing text for grammatical, punctuation, spelling, and contextual errors. The editors also can check for consistency, word choice, and formality. The editors do not write content or undertake major rewrites.
What makes Editorr.com a hybrid between hiring an editor and using Grammarly is that, while Editorr.com uses an online portal that has similarities to Grammarly's, it assigns each editing job to a real human editor instead of relying on a software program.
To get started with Editorr.com, just as with Grammarly, you need to create an online account. After establishing an account, you are prompted to purchase a “word package” that will cover your estimated editing needs.
Editorr.com offers six packages:
Scribe, $19 for 500 words (~ 1 page of text)
Poet, $49 for 1500 words
Linguist, $99 for 3500 words
Scholar, $249 for 10,000 words
Wordsmith, $999 for 45,000 words
Enterprise level (contact Editorr.com for more information)
For a short proposal to a private foundation, you might be able to get by with the Linguist package. For a proposal to a government funder, you'll probably need to purchase the Scholar package.
After you pay for your word package with a credit or debit card, the next step is to submit your text. As with Grammarly, Editorr.com requires you to paste your text into a form. You cannot upload a Google Doc or Word document, which means all formatting in your text will be lost.
After you upload your text, your editing job will enter a queue to be assigned to an editor. Within a few minutes, an editor will pick up the job and get to work. You’ll receive a steady flow of communication throughout the process, including when your job enters the queue; when an editor has been identified; and finally, an alert when the editing is complete and the edited text is ready for your approval.
How Does Editorr.com Compare to Grammarly’s software?*
provide copyediting 24/7;
are web-based and require you to upload your text to their platform, which removes all formatting;
provide basic copyediting only (grammar, punctuation, word choice); and
mark your text with suggested edits, which you will need to review and accept/reject.
Another difference between Editorr.com and Grammarly is the opportunity to give feedback and ask questions. Grammarly’s software is essentially a more robust version of the spellcheck built into your word processing program. Editorr.com, because real people do the editing, is similar to working with a freelance editor in that, with both a freelance editor and an editor assigned through Editorr.com, you can ask clarifying questions about the edits. With Grammarly, the most you can do is read Grammarly’s short explanations about why a change has been suggested.
Our Experience with Editorr.com
We tried Editorr.com as part of our research for this post. Our experience was very positive in every aspect, from the ease of account creation and text submission to the speed with which our job was assigned and edited.
For our job (which was a blog post), an editor was assigned in under 10 minutes. It took the editor less than 30 minutes to edit our piece, which was ~1200 words long. When the editor returned the text with his markups, he included a note that he would be happy to answer any questions we had. We were pleased with the level of editing and didn’t have any questions, so we approved the edit as-is. As soon as we approved the editor's work, the job was closed, and we received a copy of the final text by email. It was all very easy, straightforward, and fast. We were impressed by the level of communication Editorr.com offered. Throughout the process, we always knew the status of our job.
Based on our experience, we would use their services again, especially for anything that has a short turnaround and needs a basic copyedit.
What about Price?
We purchased the Poet package ($49 for 1500 words). Our job consisted of 1200 words, so we still have 300 words banked with Editorr.com to use later. In comparison, hiring a freelance editor for a small job like ours might have cost about the same amount (maybe a little less, if the editor were willing to bill in half-hour increments), but it would have been much harder to arrange.
For documents 20 pages or longer, hiring a freelance editor starts to look more reasonable because the amount of time spent finding and hiring the editor will feel more worthwhile for an editing job that may take a day or more. That said, even in the case of a longer document, it still is worth considering Editorr.com because of their pricing model.
Editorr.com charges by the word, while freelance editors—at least the ones we’ve worked with—charge by the hour. During the contract negotiation stage, a professional editor will be able to give you a general estimate of how long it will take to edit your text (e.g., 4–5 page/hour). However, after they receive your document and have a chance to evaluate it, they may tell you their estimate was off and they'll need more time, which means your editing costs will increase. With Editorr.com, you won't have surprise fluctuations in price, which can help if you're on a tight budget. Regardless of the quality of your writing and how much time is required for the editing, you will be billed a fixed amount.
Does Editorr.com Deliver Value?
Whether you'll find Editorr.com to be a valuable service may depend in part on the editors you are assigned.
The editor we were assigned did a great job. He was fast and did the level of editing we wanted. Based on this favorable experience, and knowing that a freelance editor probably would have been much harder to arrange, for us the answer is that Editorr.com does deliver value. That said, we uploaded an informal, short piece. We cannot vouch for what it would be like to use Editorr.com for a longer, more complex document or what it would be like to work with a different editor.
As long as you have reasonable expectations regarding the level of editing you’ll receive through Editorr.com—in other words, you understand it’s basic copyediting—you should find their services to be a good value, especially given the ease and speed with which Editorr.com handles the editing.
Can Editorr.com Replace Hiring an Editor?
Whether Editorr.com can replace hiring a freelance editor depends on your budget, how much time you have, and the kind of editing you need,
Budget: For basic copyediting, depending on where you live, the cost of Editorr.com might be more expensive, or it could be on par with the hourly rates a freelance editor would charge you. However, as far as the ease of finding an editor, Editorr.com has the advantage. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to line up an editor on your own in less time than it takes to submit a job through Editor.com. As they say, time is money. To determine the true cost of hiring a freelance editor vs. using Editorr.com, you would need to determine the number of hours it would take you to find an editor, enter into a work agreement, communicate with them about the job, and arrange for their payment. Next, multiply the number of hours by your hourly rate and add this amount to whatever the editor would bill you. Because of the speed with which you can have an editor assigned through Editorr.com, even if you could find a freelance editor at a bargain rate, Editorr.com may still turn out to be the less expensive option if all you need is copyediting.
Time: If you need something edited within 24 hours, it can be tough to find someone, even if you have a list of editors you’ve worked with in the past as a resource. While you may get lucky and find someone who can clear their calendar for you, it's difficult to complete all the necessary paperwork within a day. This is particularly true if you work for an organization that requires official review and sign-off for all short-term contracts. For unplanned editing jobs with a tight deadline, a service like Editorr.com may be your best bet.
Level of Editing: A service like Editorr.com is ideal for something that’s reasonably well written and needs a review for grammar and internal consistency (consistency meaning, for example, using consistent spelling for a word throughout a document). Two scenarios where Editorr.com would not be appropriate include:
Writing Assistance: If you know you have a poorly written document, Editorr.com is not going to solve that problem. Editors at Editorr.com will not rewrite your document. If you send them something that is poorly written, the text you receive back will be better, because grammatical issues have been corrected, but it won’t be fundamentally different. If you suspect that the document you are working on is weak (as in, the ideas are not clearly articulated) or needs significant restructuring, you would be better served by finding a writer/editor who can work with you to do a comprehensive overhaul of your document.
Formatting Help: Editorr.com is also not a good fit if you need formatting assistance or a comprehensive edit that includes things like checking image captions or headings. Text only, not documents, gets uploaded to Editorr.com, so formatting assistance is not an option. Formatting can be a lengthy process. If you need help formatting your document and preparing it for final submission or publication, Editorr.com is not for you. You could still get the copyediting done through them, but you will need to make additional arrangements to move the edited text into the final format.
Another factor to consider before using Editorr.com is confidentiality. If your document contains highly sensitive or confidential information, you may want to hire an editor on your own so you can put a confidentiality agreement in place before sending them the text for editing.
Editorr.com fills a gap between using a software program like Grammarly and hiring a freelance editor.
With Grammarly, you have convenience and affordability. You can submit your text for an instantaneous scan for grammatical errors and word choice issues (at the basic level for free, or for a more comprehensive scan, you can opt for a paid subscription). The downside of Grammarly is that the suggested edits are going to be generic because the software cannot perform contextual editing. Because of this lack of contextual editing, it helps to have a strong foundation in English so you can sift through the suggested changes and pick out the ones that are relevant.
On the other end of the scale, you can hire an editor. The advantage of hiring an editor is that you can negotiate a comprehensive edit that goes beyond basic copyediting. For example, you could ask the editor for help with formatting or cutting text, and the editor may be able to assist. However, finding a qualified editor can take time. If you need a basic copyedit, and you need it done quickly, Editorr.com could be a great option for you.
With Editorr.com, while you’re limited to the services they provide (grammar checks, word choice, consistency), you do get the benefit of contextual edits and the opportunity for at least some level of interaction with the editor. Additionally, if you have a good experience with an editor through Editorr.com, you can request to work with them again, so there's an opportunity to establish a relationship. Editorr.com also charges by the word, which allows you to calculate how much the editing will cost before you submit your job.
Regardless of what you choose, whether it's hitting up a friend, hiring an editor, or using Grammarly or Editorr.com, any attempt to get an outside evaluation of your writing is well worth it. You also don't have to limit yourself to one service. You can always start with a Grammarly review and progress to other options as needed.
*Grammarly recently introduced a service similar to Editorr.com. We did not include information about the new service because we have not used it, and Grammarly has posted limited information about the service on its website.
**This is not a sponsored post.