If you want to start an argument between editors, ask them about doing free sample edits. Some editors give them without hesitation. Others are adamantly opposed. And then there’s me – I’m in favor of and against them, depending on the scenario. Here’s what I do and why:
Yes, I’m Happy to Give You a Free Sample Edit
When it comes to novels, I’m all about the free, sample edit. Some editors will say they’ve established themselves enough that they don’t need to prove themselves, and I don’t disagree with that. But I don’t offer free samples to prove to the writer that I know what I’m doing. I offer a free sample because the author/editor relationship is an intimate relationship.
It’s not just a business transaction. An author has spent months writing a manuscript, and she’s hiring me to tell her everything that’s wrong with it. Criticism is hard enough. If you don’t feel like you can trust or work with a novel editor, it can make your 200+ page edit a painful ordeal.
No, I Don’t Offer Free Sample Edits
Business copywriting is a different animal. This is a professional exchange. You’re hiring me to do a job, not hold your hand. I have samples of my work available online. I’m happy to provide a portfolio for review, but I won’t edit a 500 word blog post for free for two reasons:
- I didn’t get my first haircut for free. Have you ever walked into the salon and asked for a free haircut so you could decide whether or not the stylist could do the job? No, you look at pictures of people whose hair she cuts. The same holds true for editors. I’ll give you links to website so you can see what I’ve done.
- There are too many scammers. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to shop for editors by sending different documents to different editor and asking for free samples. It doesn’t take long before a scammer has had his entire website professionally edited for free. (NOTE: Authors sometimes do this too, which is why I only ever edit the first 2-3 pages – if someone asks me to do a sample edit of Chapter 15, I offer to do the first few pages or nothing.)
That’s why I’m for and against free sample edits. There’s a time and place for it, but editors also need to protect their work. Regardless of whether or not you decide to offer free samples, one thing should never change – every client should receive the same high-quality work.