Why is a sample edit important? Should I really get one?
A sample edit is like a test drive. Only in very, very rare circumstances would you buy a car before driving it. You want to make sure the car runs correctly. You want to make sure whoever is selling the car is telling the truth. You want to know that you and the car get along, that you like the ride, and hopefully discern whether or not there will be any bumps on the road down the line.
By getting a sample edit, you’re making sure that you and the editor can work together, that they deliver what they say they will, and most importantly, that you like their editing style. While editing is often touted as a technical profession–and it certainly is–it’s also a highly intimate and intuitive profession. For many authors, editing can be a difficult and long process, and you want someone guiding you that you actually like. Anybody can say what they want online–it’s much harder to fake skill and grace when pointing out somebody else’s errors.
As the old saying goes, “Talk the talk, walk the walk.” A sample edit is a way for you to verify that the editor can walk their talk. Many editors will do a short (1-10 page) sample edit for free. Some may charge a small fee. I do sample edits for free (up to 5 pages).
And last but not least–don’t send your best writing! You’re not auditioning for a job. Send something that is reflective of the rest of the work. Usually, the comes from the middle of the text.