Who Benefits from a Sample Edit Offered By An Editing Company?

First, let’s define the meaning of a sample edit. This phrase differs from company to company and individual to individual, and can run from 100 words up to and including 1,000 words.

Definition of a Sample Edit

A sample edit allows the writer or author to get a brief preview of what will appear in the final edited version of the document that the editor returns. Many companies require a specific and limited number of words or pages, which the author submits for a free editing session. Sometimes an editor has the option of choosing 500 words from anywhere in the manuscript, and that section is copied to a new document and then edited.

Sample edit documents are digital files that are exchanged between the individual and the company or editor. If using Microsoft Word’s Change Tracking feature, the author can see the edits and comments entered by the editor to get an idea of the amount of revisions that will be required before the final output has been completed.

Here’s an example of a partial sample edit

sample edit of mary had a little lamb with change tracking turned on

When a client disagrees with revisions in a sample edit

Many times when an author reviews the sample edit, she may decide that she doesn’t agree with the changes that the editor has made, and therefore, looks for another company or editor who will be more in line with her viewpoint. It is normal for the sample edit to be offered at no charge as a way of introducing an author to the editing and proofreading service. If the author likes what she sees, then she is more likely to submit payment and agree to the terms of the editing company.

Client advantages of a sample edit

Sometimes, however, when an editor edits a document, especially fiction or content for webpages, it might involve completely rewriting a paragraph or a number of sentences so the content conforms to industry standards. This can be a good thing for an author to get this advice and professional input without having to pay an increased fee.

However, it’s important for the client to understand that the editor is not making changes to the document in a personal manner but in a professional manner.  It’s been said that many authors become emotional when editors change their words or alter what’s been placed on the page. That’s where a sample edit benefits the author. It provides a detailed glimpse of the edits that will be made to the document before the author has to spend any money.

Editor advantages of a sample edit

For the editor, there’s no way of knowing if the potential client is sensitive to feedback of her writing. Naturally, if the editor doesn’t get the green light to proceed with the client’s editing job, the editor has no way of knowing what the client didn’t like that made her go elsewhere for editing services.

With most editing services, editors who perform sample edits of a document before being hired to edit the content, give 110% over and above what might be seen in an edited document. For example, when a separate document is created that explains to the author the strong points and weak points of the content, this is done with a compassionate heart to help the writer address any issues *before* submitting and paying for an entire edit of a manuscript or document.

It is unusual, but is permissible for one editor to perform the sample edit, and then be given the first option to edit the document when the client decides to proceed with the project. However, the opposite is also an advantage for that editor to refuse to accept the job from that client due to the amount of work that would be required to complete the project, or if the content is not in the editor’s wheelhouse as a favorite area of expertise.

Company advantages of a sample edit

To remain competitive, and to offer the most choices to new clients, the company benefits from offering a sample edit on a first job. It will cost the company a token amount to pay the editor for the sample edit, but in the grand scheme of things, it assures a potential new client that the company is trustworthy and can deliver on the promise of providing a professionally edited document.

Here are the three vantage points to a sample edit

I believe you’ll see that there are truly three vantage points to a sample edit:

1)  The author gets a preview (at no charge) of the editor’s style and comments.

2)  The editor gets a heads-up as to how much work and time will be required to bring the document up to a professional industry standard, and therefore he or she might create a separate document that details the editor’s findings.

3)  The company takes a chance by offering this service at no charge to potential clients in hopes that the editing will please the author enough to submit the job. However, the plus side to this arrangement is that it oftentimes eliminates those web visitors who are quick to demand a refund when not agreeing with an editor’s revisions, suggestions, and comments after the editing process has been completed.

 Not to be overlooked before the sample edit is completed

Ideally, all three areas of the editing process will flourish by going through the process of a sample edit. But, the most important aspect is to get the author’s comments or notes in advance of having the editor perform the sample edit. For an editor to perform a sample edit with no prior input or feedback from the author will sometimes put a generic spin on the output. By that, I mean that a level of editing will be performed, but because the editor has no guidelines for what the author is measuring the service on, only a basic edit is delivered.

Most editors have specialty areas where they excel, but they also have a list of topics or genres that they prefer not to edit. If a web visitor asks for a sample edit and does not provide any information, and the editor who receives the request for a sample edit chooses to refuse performing the sample edit after reviewing the document’s content, it just slows the process down. It also confuses the author by experiencing a slower turnaround time, and to say the least, it puts the responsibility back on the chief editor’s shoulders to find another editor who will agree to edit the document.

Sample Edit Process Summary

In conclusion, because a client cannot walk into a physical office, meet the staff and the editor, and discuss her project in person, she’s left to submitting her document online, not knowing who is on the other end of the transmission tunnel. So, yes, the client takes a risk when submitting her document, but she has the potential promise of finding an outstanding editor who will make her words shine and guarantee her a professional outcome and maybe even a better salary, a new job, a higher academic grade, or website content that attracts more visitors so the company receives more sales. Plus, she receives all this without paying for it.

What’s your opinion? Who benefits more from a sample edit?

  1. Client
  2. Editor
  3. Company

Submit your response by clicking the Comments link.

Candace, Contributing Editor