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I know I need a technical editor, but now what do I do?

“Ashleigh, your last post about needing at technical editor just wasn’t gritty enough”

“I know I need a technical editor, but now what?

“How do I actually find an editor that I like and trust?”

I get it. I got a lot of feedback that one of my last posts just wasn’t good enough. The whole purpose of this blog and site in general is to kickstart your knitwear design business, and I didn’t quite deliver. Feedback is a BEAUTIFUL thing! Every time I hear from one of my readers (even if it is critical) — I do a little happy dance! Because that means YOU care and are ready to learn more. (Btw, if you want to read the post I’m talking about — it’s here: 6 Reasons You Need a Technical Editor.)

Now that we’ve established that a technical editor is an absolutely necessary expense — let’s chat about how to find a technical editor, how to start the relationship, and what you can send an editor to make sure your relationship is a success from day one. Sound good? Cool beans.

How do I find a technical editor?

Screenshot of #techeditorsofinstagram
  1. The Tech Editor Hub

    You can’t go to University to get a degree in tech editing, but Joeli Kelly’s Tech Editor Hub is the gold standard in creating great tech editors. Almost every tech editor I’ve worked with has been a graduate of her course. She has a list of all her graduates here, along with a description of what they edit best (garments, accessories, shawls, etc). This is a fantastic reference!

  2. Social Media

    Do a quick hashtag search on social media (#techeditor #techeditorsofinstagram and #techeditorforhire are a good place to start). The beauty of this technique is you can SEE the types of designers that technical editors like to work with — many editors have a specialty or are just starting out — if you are making complex sweater with twelve sizes, I would stick to more experienced sweater editors rather than overwhelming a new editor who likes to work on accessories (hint — it’ll save you $$ in the long run!).

  3. Yarn Pond

    I’ve heard rumors that Yarn Pond has a new feature where you can post Technical Editing jobs. I just signed up for an account, and it looks pretty easy to use! I plan on giving this option a shot the next time I need an editor. I’ll report back to you on my experience!


  4. Ask a fellow designer

    Word of mouth is the best type of marketing! Ask a designer that you know (and admire) who he/she works with. If they’ve been designing for more than a year or two, they’ve probably worked with multiple technical editors and can provide an honest opinion of who to work with.

    “Ashleigh, who have you worked with?”

    I’m so happy you asked! I’ve worked with several technical editors over the years — they’ve all been fantastic to work with. I’m kind of a klutz with my patterns — the only reason they’re readable is because of the beautiful people below (in no particular order!).

    I highly recommend the above editors — but I know that there are hundreds more to choose from out there, so do a bit of research and then reach out to one of them!

Okay, you’ve found someone you think you want to work with, how do I start the conversation?

This is kind of like online dating (okay, maybe not quite!) — you have to make the first move! Here is the approach I would take:

  1. Check out his/her website

    Many editors have a form you can fill out on their website to request a quote. I’ve even seen a couple of editors where you can reserve a spot on their calendar online! How cool is that? So, your first stop should be their website.

    Even if they don’t have an online form on the website, they usually tell you the best way to contact them and what information they want in order to provide you an accurate quote. Follow whatever instructions they provide, and you’re off to the races! Congratulations!

  2. E-mail/DM

    Some technical editors don’t have a website set up fully — that’s okay! Just reach out to them via e-mail or DM on social media. I would recommend a quick introduction and then provide the following information: description of the pattern (or copy of the pattern), a pattern photo, and deadline for when you need the work done. Ask the editor if they have any upcoming availability (some of these editors are booked weeks/months in advance!) and if they could provide a cost estimate.

    Note: Be prepared for rejection — sometimes editors are SUPER busy (this can be very seasonal), or they know that they just aren’t the right editor for your type of pattern. If this happens, ask if they have any recommendations for other editors that might be able to help you out. Even if they reject you once, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to work with you in the future!

What do I send to my technical editor to make this a success from Day 1?

Now that you’ve started the relationship, what do you send the editor to get the most bang for your buck (and make their job easy!)?

Here are the items I would send:

  1. The pattern. (duh!)

  2. A photo of the sample laid out flat (or photos of all sides/angles if it’s a garment). Sometimes our beautiful Ravelry-ready photos don’t provide a clear view of the entire design — that’s okay for Ravelry, but technical editors don’t care about perfect photos — they want to SEE the entire piece, so they can verify that your pattern will make exactly what is in the photo.

  3. Your style sheet. Send your style sheet to your editor, so they make sure your abbreviations are consistent across your patterns and that your pattern has the “feel” that you are going for. If you are just starting out, you probably don’t have a style sheet — that’s okay! After you’ve made a few patterns, you’ll start to see how you like your patterns to look — you can make a style sheet at that point.

  4. Grading/sizing/stitch count notes — If you are making a garment in multiple sizes, or if the stitch count is super important to your pattern, send any notes you’ve made. If you have a spreadsheet that generated all your stitch counts for each size, send this! If there is an error in your math, your editor might be able to spot it using your spreadsheet.

How much $$$ is this going to cost me?

I know this isn’t the answer you want to hear, but “It depends”.

It depends on a variety of factors — the complexity of your pattern, the accuracy of you pattern, the experience of your editor, and how much your editor charges.

I’ve seen two types of pricing strategies by editors.

Most editors charge by the hour (usually ranging between $10-$25 an hour). Typically less experienced editors charge on the lower end of the spectrum — but remember they will likely take longer with your pattern than a highly experienced editor — so you may end up spending about the same amount of money either way.

The second pricing strategy I’ve seen is editors will charge by the garment type — beanies could be cheaper than shawls which will very likely be cheaper than a sweater. I’ve seen this strategy with brand new tech editors that are trying to get experience and often edit slower than individuals that charge an hourly rate. After gaining experience, these editors usually switch to an hourly model.

I’ve spent between $12.50 and $100 for a pattern to be edited — the $100 pattern was mostly because my pattern was full of errors and needed A LOT of help. As I’ve gotten more comfortable with pattern writing, my editing expenses have decreased because I’m writing better patterns the first time around. Pattern writing is like a muscle that grows and develops over time — it takes practice!

One way that I’ve decreased my expenses is having a checklist to make sure I don’t forget anything in my pattern (I can be quite scatterbrained sometimes!). If you would like a copy of the checklist I use, I’m including a sign-up link below.

I hope this guidance helps (and gets into the “knitty gritty” you were hoping for!) As always, feel free to reach out or comment below if you have any questions!


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