• Advice

4 essential editing tips for freelance writers

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

As a writer, you will have to work with editors on almost every piece you publish. Doing right by the editors you work with can mean a lot–sometimes it can even mean the difference between getting a job and being rejected for one. As such, you need to know what an editor wants before you even start writing your next article.

The basics: Editing and proofreading

Let’s start with a point you may already know but can’t be stressed enough. Just because you are working with an editor doesn’t mean you don’t have to edit your own writing. Just as you would when you didn’t have someone looking behind you on your writing, you should make sure to double-check your work.

While an editor is there to make sure you didn’t forget a comma or misplace your period, you need to remember there is more to their job than that. If you take the extra time to make sure to get the basics down, you are saving an editor the time of having to rework those basics for you later. Plus, in a professional capacity, editors will expect you to have made sure your writing is free of basic grammatical errors.

You need to know how to pitch

Editors don’t only look at your finished written pieces. To get work, you need to craft a pitch and land a job. When you submit these pitches, it is an editor that reads them. So, there are a couple things that you need to know to craft effective pitches.

First of all, don’t go overboard. Most editors see many pitches a day. As well as meaning you have to make sure that your pitch stands out, this also means that you need to make your pitches concise.

To make your pitch stand out, make it clear and unique. Once you come up with a unique idea, craft a pitch explaining exactly what your article will be about in detail. Just saying you want to write about a topic isn’t enough–outline exactly what a reader can get from your article. In addition, you need to explain why that article is a good fit for the publication you are pitching it to.

You should also be aware that many pitches get rejected by editors. Don’t react to this argumentatively, though. Instead, simply move on to another publication or article topic and try to learn from your mistakes as you go. Arguing with an editor or begging to have your article included in a publication will only serve to make you seem unprofessional and unwilling to take rejection, which may hurt your chances of working with that publication in the future.

Source everything

Another bad habit is not sourcing facts in your articles. This basic fact-checking, though, is absolutely crucial to an article being published, because a false claim in an article can reflect badly on a publication.

In addition to making sure that your facts are sourced, you need to make sure that you use proper sources. Think about it this way: If you wouldn’t use a source in an academic paper, you shouldn’t use it in an article, either. For instance, if you have a choice between trusting a blog for information or a scientific study, you should definitely go with the scientific study.

Work with your editor

A common mistake that many writers make is to only talk with their editor once an article is finished. On the contrary, though, the relationship of writer and editor is like any other working relationship. Communication is key.

If you run into a problem writing the article, have to make changes from your original pitch, or can’t meet a deadline, it is better to communicate with your editor as soon as these issues crop up. Just like you or anyone else you would work with, editors don’t like being blindsided by problems or changes.

As a writer, your best bet is to work with your editor. Don’t just focus on the article that you want to write; make sure that you give your editor the article you promised. Also, you should be sure to put forth your best work, error-free.

Michelle Brooks has been an independent writer and content editor for 7 years. Her expertise includes education, writing, business, and lifestyle. She loves sharing her own experience and knowledge with her readers.