How I Found My Developmental Editor

CDR Snippet

Are you writing your first novel and not sure if the storyline is moving in the right direction? Or, do you worry that your writing might not be good enough and wonder if you should even finish what you’re working on?

If either scenario applies to you, you might want to consider hiring an editor to provide feedback.

Back in January 2014, with about one-third of my first novel written, I found myself stuck. Not because of writer’s block—I knew exactly where I wanted the story to go—but because I was worried that my writing wasn’t good enough. The self-doubt I felt was so overwhelming that I started backtracking to reread five paragraphs for every new paragraph written. And every time I reread something, I found myself wondering: Am I wasting my time? Will people even like this?

Then one afternoon, a friend was telling me about a computer software project he’d recently completed with the help of freelancers via the online staffing platform Elance.com. That’s when it occurred to me that I could hire someone to provide me with feedback.

Later that night, I went to Elance.com and created this job:

Please Critique and Edit My Novel

I am writing my first novel. I’m 90 pages in and need an unbiased opinion on the quality of my work. I hope to find someone who has experience writing, proofreading and editing fiction to provide feedback/guidance throughout the process. I’d like to start by paying for feedback/editing on the first chapter. If I can find the right person, I’d like to continue paying for feedback on additional chapters and possibly the whole book.

(I didn’t know this at the time, but I was looking for a developmental editor.)

Within a day, I received 42 proposals, but there likely would have been hundreds had I not closed the proposal window early. The next step was to weed through the proposals.

The first thing I did was eliminate candidates who didn’t have any reviews from previous clients and whose rates were too high. (I was looking to spend less than $75.) That left me with 16 candidates.

After reading each candidate’s proposal, I had a feeling that one particular person was right for the job. However, when it came time to make a final selection, I decided to hire two candidates just to see how the feedback would vary.

In the end, I should have gone with my gut and hired that one particular person who I felt was right for the job in the first place because her edits and comments provided the motivation I needed to push forward. It wasn’t all glowing feedback either—there was a lot of work to be done—but she understood where I was going with the story and her enthusiasm about working on the project came through loud and clear. The other candidate’s feedback was positive and insightful, but I just didn’t feel a connection with her for some reason.

So, a big thank you goes out to Elance.com for connecting me with Leah Campbell. She’s an amazing developmental editor!

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