In episode 422, Lauren Sawant teaches us how to think like an editor and incorporate editing techniques into our blog and cookbook writing.

We cover information about the differences between a cookbook and a recipe editor, tips to use in managing and editing social media and website copy, learn common missteps in recipe writing to avoid, ways to work like an editor, and the benefits of creating a style sheet.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

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Guest Details

Connect with Garnish Editorial
Website | Instagram | LinkedIn

Bio Lauren Sawant is a freelance editor specializing in cookbooks, recipes, and food writing. She has worked in and adjacent to the food and beverage industry for over 15 years, including three years as a pastry cook. She has been a freelance editor since 2021.


  • Working with an editor helps a blogger display professionalism so it’s clear, concise, and accurate
  • You establish yourself as an expert when you work with an editor to be professional.
  • Consistency is so important because you have to pay attention to your writing and what you publish.
  • Create a style sheet so you track the colors, style and a blueprint for the word style, abbreviations, etc that you use across your blog posts or in a cookbook.
  • Edit in batches. Remember you shouldn’t edit all in one go.
  • List ingredients in order of use and measurements in a way that all readers would use them.
  • Take advantage of all the tools at your disposal.
  • Editors Associations and FB groups are good places to find an Editor, know what to ask them, and rates.
  • Look for professional education/training to be an editor on a professional level. What associations do they belong to and you can ask for a reference or testimonial. Think about asking to see a sample edit.
  • Proofreaders and editors are not the same.

Resources Mentioned

Click for full list.

Resources for Self-Editing



Great for grammar-checking. This is its strongest feature, and it’s worth using the free version for access. The paid version comes with AI-powered rewriting suggestions. An editor’s word of caution: review each rewriting suggestion before accepting.


Like Grammarly, ProWritingAid has a free version and a paid version. A lot of writers swear by it—try it and see if it suits your needs.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a great free alternative to Microsoft Word. The editing features are consistently improving.

Microsoft Word

If you have space in your budget and intend to send your text to others for feedback, Microsoft Word has robust editing features and is worth the expense.


PerfectIt is designed for editors, but it can be useful for writers. If you are sticking to a style guide or are looking to improve consistency, consider trying it out.

Online Resources

Will Write for Food Newsletter (Dianne Jacob)

Dianne Jacob’s newsletter contains so much useful information about food writing and the industry itself. Head on over to Substack and check it out. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Editors Canada

There is a lot of information in the Editors Canada blog that is free and easy to access. Although aimed at professional editors, writers can learn a lot by following along.

Editors Canada also records webinars throughout the year. Non-members can purchase the webinars—there are so many recordings available.

Editorial Freelancers Association

The Editorial Freelancer’s Association (EFA) is an amazing resource for both editors and writers. My favorite feature of their site is the page on editorial rates. This is a great guideline for anyone considering hiring an editor.

The EFA also publishes useful booklets at affordable prices—many of them intended for authors.

Purdue OWL

Purdue OWL is a great resource for working with style guides and improving your writing. 

Teachers Pay Teachers

If your budget is small, but you still want some professional resources, look no further than Teachers Pay Teachers. There are tons of self-editing resources available, often for just a few dollars.

Facebook Groups

I Need A Book Editor

EAE Ad Space


Everything Cookbooks

Run by four wonderful cookbook editors and authors, the podcast really does cover everything about cookbooks. 

Cookbook Love

This podcast features interviews with so many cookbook authors. A great listen.

The Editing Podcast

Run by two veteran editors, this podcast is a must-listen if you want to learn how to think like an editor.


Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob

Dianne Jacob literally wrote the book (this book) on food writing. She expertly explains absolutely everything you could ever want to know about writing recipes, cookbooks, memoirs, blogs, and so much more.

The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn and Marilyn Schwartz

If you are interested in learning about copyediting, this book should be your starting point. The Copyeditor’s Handbook holds the answers to almost every question ever asked about copyediting. Want to know what copyeditors actually do? Have a punctuation question? Look no further. This book has all the answers.

The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker

This book is essential reading for anyone who has even a passing interest in writing recipes. The authors take readers through the anatomy of a recipe, provide style sheet examples, and review grammar. There are even sections on conversions, trademarked terms, and nutrition analysis. My own copy is bookmarked throughout and covered in sticky notes.


Editing Recipes and Cookbooks, Toronto Metropolitan University

If you are serious about writing or editing cookbooks, this course is well worth the commitment. The course is taught by Judy Phillips, a veteran cookbook editor. If you aren’t based out of Toronto, don’t worry. The course is fully remote and asynchronous.


Click for full script.

EBT422 – Lauren Sawant

Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the EAT Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help them to achieve their freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.

I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. 

As a blogger, I will be honest. Editing is not something that I typically think through. Lauren Sawant joins me in this episode. She is from Garnish editorial and she makes a case for why we should start thinking like an editor to take our content to the next level. She talks through some of the benefits of incorporating editing techniques into our brands and our blogs. She also gives us some tips for self-editing, so we don’t necessarily need to hire an editor. But if we do want to hire an editor, she talks through all of the logistics with that as well. You don’t need to be a cookbook author in order to listen to this. If you’re a blogger, if you write any content at all anywhere, this episode will benefit you. So I hope you love it. It is episode number 422, sponsored by RankIQ.

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Megan Porta: Lauren Sawant is a freelance editor specializing in cookbooks, recipes, and food writing. She has worked in and adjacent to the food and beverage industry for over 15 years, including three years as a pastry cook. She has been a freelance editor since 2021. Hello Lauren. Thank you for joining me on Eat Blog Talk. How are you doing today? 

Lauren Sawant: I’m great. Thank you so much for having me. 

Megan Porta: Super excited to learn more about you and to just have this conversation today. But before we get into it, did you have a fun fact to share with us?

Lauren Sawant: Sure. So my fun fact, I grew up on a hobby farm in Florida. So we had horses, goats, donkeys. Basically, any animal that you can imagine. There were wild alligators in our pond. So if you count that we even had those and we also lived down the road from an animal sanctuary and they had lions. So at twilight, we’d hear lions roaring and their emus. They would get loose and like just magically appear in our backyard and then people would come with lassos and try to get the emos. It was pretty crazy. 

Megan Porta: That’s a dream. That’s something that would happen in my dreams. 

Lauren Sawant: Yeah, it was definitely very different. 

Megan Porta: Are you a huge animal lover today?

Lauren Sawant: Oh, definitely. We don’t have any pets right now, but it feels so weird. I love all animals, big and small. My kids are begging us to get a dog and I’m this close to pulling the trigger and doing it. 

Megan Porta: Oh, I love that. Wild emus and alligators. That does not happen very often.

Lauren Sawant: No.

Megan Porta: That’s fun and I would love to learn a little something more about your business too, a change of pace there. But the topic today is thinking like an editor and how to take your content to the next level by doing that. So tell us what you do, what your business is, and who your clients are. Just explain that to us.

Lauren Sawant: So I run Garnish Editorial. I offer editorial services to mostly food influencers, but also basically anyone who wants to publish recipes. I work with meal delivery companies and media companies, and I just make sure that everyone’s recipes are on point. They’re understandable, and that text flows. I do a few different types of editing, developmental editing, so making sure that a first draft actually makes sense, and that it’s going to read properly. Copy editing. So that’s where you get what people typically think of an editor as where you’re getting your grammar, your style. Then I also do proofreading. So that’s the final check of a document where you aren’t really making changes. Just catching those last-minute errors. I also offer some other services like author coaching training for companies where their in-house team wants to make a cookbook but doesn’t necessarily know how to go about it. Then I also do some localization. So making texts that are not necessarily written by someone who lives in North America, more aligned with the North American audience. 

Megan Porta: Okay. So you do this mostly for cookbooks, and do you do any of it for blogging or anything outside of cookbooks?

Lauren Sawant: Yes, I do work with some bloggers. Mostly, I work on their cookbooks, but I’ve done some newsletters and some crash courses on recipe writing as well. 

Megan Porta: Okay. So you do editing for food influencers, correct? 

Lauren Sawant: Yes. Okay. So what would you say, keeping that at the top of your mind and the top of your business, how does that benefit us as food bloggers?

Megan Porta: So there are three main facets of editing that I really think help food bloggers. First, you’re going to display professionalism in your writing. If your writing is clear, concise, and accurate, it really shows that you’re serious about your platform and you’re series about your business. It helps your readers follow along. They understand that they’re coming to a professional. It’s not just someone who opened up their computer and started a blog, they can see that you care about your work. 

Lauren Sawant: Also, good editing helps you to establish yourself as an expert. You already know that you’re an authority, but new people and potential followers, they might not know this, and the more they’re able to understand your writing and your recipes, it’s going to click in their heads. This person is an expert. They know what they’re talking about. But if they have to read through your recipes, and your blog posts a few times just to get what you’re trying to say, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for them to see you as an expert. 

Then consistency. Consistency. I use this 5,000 times a day. But it’s so important and the only way to get consistency is by paying close attention to what you’re writing and what you’re putting out into the world. So the way I like to think of it is that you’re writing in your recipes should kind of be like a mood board or like the thumbnails on your Instagram profile. No post should be exactly the same, but there should be defining features that remain consistent and tell a story. So if you’re looking at recipes, for example, you’re going to want to use the same abbreviations across your blog. You’re going to want to use the same ingredient names. For example, you say the word eggplant in one recipe and then aubergine in another recipe. Then also a similar structure for writing out your recipes. Because if you have readers that are going through different recipes and they want to learn as they go, if you write things in a consistent style with consistent instructions, for example, with doneness tests, you have a consistent way to express it. So for example, roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the bacon is crispy. Then that way your readers know okay, this is the time, this is my doneness test. You don’t deviate from that. It just helps people understand what you’re doing and they know what to expect. 

Megan Porta: So consistency within your blog, but also do you believe in consistency across platforms? So when you talk about the same recipe on say Instagram or in your email, talking the same way there too?

Lauren Sawant: Yeah, definitely don’t hold consistency and drown out your voice, but keep the same style and make sure, if you’re posting a recipe in two different places, the recipe matches exactly. So the same abbreviations, the same ingredients. The same steps. Just because a lot of people, I know like in my personal life, if I like a blogger, I go to their website, I follow their Instagram, and it does get a little bit confusing if I see the same thing posted in different ways in different places.

Megan Porta: Okay. So do you have tips for reframing our thoughts to start thinking like an editor? How do we start doing this? 

Lauren Sawant: So the biggest thing to do is, sit down as you write and just focus on what you’re writing. After you finish writing, when you come back, just make a habit of keeping track of every change that you’re making and how you need to apply these changes across your document, across your blog, or a lot of the work I’m doing, like I said, is with cookbooks. How are you going to apply this across your cookbook? So I’ll touch on this in a little bit, but as an editor, editors keep style sheets with every document that they work on. So I’m sure a lot of your blogs probably have a style guide that shows your colors and what you’re trying to put across to your target audience. This is the same thing except for your writing. It’s essentially a blueprint for the text and your recipes and your blog, and it’s super helpful. When you’re writing a recipe, you can look back at it and say, okay, this is how I express this, or this is the ingredient term I used. The sheet will grow and grow and eventually, you’ll just have this giant, beautiful document that helps you when you have questions or if you’re super tired, you can just look at it and copy-paste stuff into a document. It’s also great as you’re expanding too. If you bring on a VA or any freelancers, you can just give them the sheet and say, these are the rules for writing my recipes. These are the rules for writing posts. You’ll never really have to worry about someone not matching the style of your blog. It’s super useful. 

Megan Porta: Okay. That’s a really easy way to think of it. I don’t have to sit down today and think about, okay, what mistakes have I made? I don’t have to think through it now. I can just build it as I go and create this. I love that you call it a giant, beautiful document as you’re working. So it’s not a big project in our minds. It’s just doing it as you go thing. 

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. You don’t have to necessarily sit down and be like, I’m going to make everything perfect right now. It’s something that comes and you’ll get a feel for it. Another thing too, that you can do as you’re working is try to get a good handle on grammar. You don’t have to be an expert, but if you have anything like Grammarly or even a built-in grammar checker in Google Docs or anything like that. When it gives you the little red underlining, don’t just accept it and move on because it usually gives you a little explanation. Just take two seconds, read the explanation, and put it in your head. Note it down. That way the next time, you probably won’t make that mistake and you’ll have less to edit in the end. You’re working fast, and you want to just accept it, but it’ll help a lot.

Then also, a big thing that editors do a lot, is we don’t edit all in one go. We take a break. We keep our eyes fresh and we come back after a few hours or a couple days because especially when you’re working on your own work if you just try to publish everything all at once, there’s going to mistake no matter how many times you read through it, because you’ve read through it so many times. That’s actually I think the biggest thing for people who do want to work like an editor is just to keep your eyes fresh. Nothing has to happen immediately. The world won’t end, I promise. Just come back after a break, even if it’s just to get a coffee. Your writing will thank you, and it’ll all be nice. 

Megan Porta: It is amazing what just a little break can do for clarity with writing. Every time I take a break, I come back and I’m like, oh gosh, I would not have seen that before. It’s really quite amazing. So yeah, just even a 10-minute break. Just something to step away from and clear your head from whatever you’re writing about.

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. If it’s a nice day, go outside. It’ll make your life so much easier. One more thing too, that editors do. We often work in passes. So for example, when I’m editing a cookbook, I don’t go through the entire document page by page. I go through by type of item. So if I’m editing a cookbook, like I’ll often start with the ingredient list. I’ll do all of the ingredient list first. That way I’m doing the same type of work. My mind gets a muscle memory going and I’m not jumping from thing to thing. It works the same with blog posts too. Go through your head note, your text. If you have any stories associated with it, then move on to your ingredient list, and your methods. It helps. It helps your mind to say, okay, these are the things that I’m looking for, and you’re less likely to miss tiny errors because you’re jumping from one type of item to another. 

Megan Porta: It’s like batching. I say this all the time, and it’s so true. When you’re in that groove, you’re so much more efficient, and it’s exactly what you’re saying here.

Lauren Sawant: Definitely. Also along the same lines, checklists. Checklists are amazing and you can incorporate this into your style guide too. Say, all right, these are the items that I need to check off for every post. Do I have my grammar or my ingredients correct? Do my numbers make sense? Just very simple things you can put on, but it helps so much. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. I know a lot of bloggers who do have just those blogger checklists that they run through, and I think that is such a good way to make sure that you get everything and that you’re being consistent as you mentioned. So this is no exception. Then in regards to actually writing the recipes, the ingredients, and all of that, do you have any common mistakes that you see with the way bloggers do that?

Lauren Sawant: Definitely. And I don’t say definitely in a bad way. But there are definitely some mistakes that do happen. A lot of times they are okay within a blog itself because it might be part of your style. So some common errors I see are inconsistencies in how you express your measures in your ingredients. So for example, you list some canned sizes in milliliters, but in another recipe, or even in the same recipe you’re listing another can size in ounces. So it’s generally advised that you should select one type of measurement and stick with it. Or you can list two types of measurements, which is even better, especially if you do have a worldwide readership. That way someone in England is going to be looking at the same measurement and understand it as someone in America.

Also, a big one I see is the ingredient list and the method not matching the order of use rules. So generally ingredients should be listed in their order of use. It helps the reader understand the recipe, know which items they’re going to need when, and the order of use, do you make the ingredient list by when you use the item. If they are used at the same time, then you list them by amount. Then if they’re the same amount at the same time, dry before wet, or sometimes light before dark. If you want someone to be able to use the same spoon. Yeah, it just keeps your reader on track. It helps you organize your recipe, and it also helps you cross reference as you’re going through your method to making sure you’ve got every method item in the ingredient list.

Megan Porta: I’ve never heard the dry before wet and light before dark. That’s amazing. Thank you. 

Lauren Sawant: Yeah. That one I actually learned from this amazing book. It’s called The Recipe Writer’s Handbook. I think it’s out of print now, but there are so many copies you can get. I got mine from thrift books and it’s amazing. It’s literally the ultimate handbook for writing recipes. It’s perfect. 

Megan Porta: Oh, awesome. Okay. Anything else? Any other tips that you have for just making sure that you are getting into that groove of self-editing your content? 

Lauren Sawant: Let’s see. So I’d say honestly, just knowing how you write and if we’re talking about common errors too, knowing the errors that you tend to make. Because they’re going to be different from everyone else’s, and everyone makes errors. Even as I’m editing, I’ll come back with those fresh eyes and I’ll see, oh no, I missed this, I missed that. But also like I know what things I’m more likely to miss. So when I’m coming back after a break, I know, okay, I’m going to check this spelling. I’m going to check the ingredient list. I’m going to check the number of styles. They are a bit painful for me sometimes because I’m not a math person and I see numbers and I’m like, oh my god, numbers, how can I even look at numbers? So I know that when I’m editing, I have to triple-check number cells and make sure, even though it has nothing to do with math. So that’s a big thing. Just making sure you know what kind of errors you normally make and go back and check those. Also, take advantage of everything that you have at your disposal, be it something like Grammarly, which isn’t necessarily amazing if you use it for AI-powered rewriting, but its grammar checker is great. Use friends too, to look things over to because self-editing doesn’t have to be a lonely process even if you don’t have a professional editor. You can definitely send things around to friends or basically, anyone who has an interest in a recipe or a post. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s a good idea. Just family members who love your content or friends who are willing to help. I never think of that, but that’s such a good recommendation.

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. Community. Community is an amazing thing. 

Megan Porta: Yes. Or even tapping into maybe some of your most loyal readers too. I just thought of that too. I know food bloggers who tap into loyal readers for Recipe testing and things like that. So if they’re willing to do that, if you have a really loyal audience, I think they would probably be willing to look through some of your content too. So great things to think through, Lauren. Thank you for all of that. Then I have a question about you, you mentioned style guides earlier. So I used to have a job where I worked in the corporate world and I created tons and tons of style guides and style sheets and that was my world for a long time. So can you talk about style guides and style sheets? What’s the difference? What should we be focusing on, et cetera? 

Lauren Sawant: So in the editing world, a style guide is something like the Chicago Manual Style or APA or MLA, which you probably used in school for writing research papers. So it’s basically a giant document that has all the rules for your writing, for references, for numbers, for sentence structure, everything you can think of. Typically when an editor is working on a document, we’re going to either be told which style guide we’re using or if there isn’t one set, we’ll pick one to use that makes sense for the document. 

Whereas a style sheet, it’s made specifically for the document you’re working on. So it’s going to have categories that correspond with what you’re doing. So for example, I’m going to open up my style sheet for a book I’m working on right now, but I have a category for numbers and measures and it shows how I display time ranges. So we have, for example, five to eight minutes displayed with an end dash instead of the word two, and fractions are stacked. Then I have a space for punctuation. So no periods after the abbreviation. We use a comma after short introductory phrases. Then we have sections for usage and ingredient list phrasings. So a good example here is the way we express alternative ingredients in this book, which is chocolate protein powder parenthesis, optional. So, instead of saying, protein powder of your choice or something like that. Then you have your method phrasings for your special sections, and how you display yields. Basically, it’s just a list of rules for the document and also you can include wordless things that you spell a bit differently from whichever dictionary you’re using. Then also like proper nouns, if you put in Julia Child, you want to make sure you get her name spelled correctly. So you put that on your sheet too.

Megan Porta: So do you recommend creating this style guide, so as you go through your work and you’re writing down and noting all the things that you do wrong or that you need to correct, whatever. Do you recommend taking the style sheet information from that or creating it entirely separately? Or how do you do that? 

Lauren Sawant: So generally you would create it separately and just write at the top this is the style guide I’m using. But a lot of times you don’t even need to, especially for blogs, like you don’t necessarily need a style guide. If you’re working on a cookbook, it’s super helpful. But yeah, just go through your document and see all the different types of things that you have. So you have numbers, you have punctuation. Just anything that you would need a rule on, create a category for it. So you would create a category for your ingredient lists, your methods, if you have any special sections, a section for items that you can make ahead, storage tips, and things like that. Create a category for those rules as well. So you could pretty easily create a style sheet by just looking at one of your recipes or one of your posts and just breaking out each section that you have in it. 

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Megan Porta: So I think this would be helpful for blog posts though, right? For hiring a VA or someone who’s going to help you with editing or writing. I think it would be good to break this out into a sheet for that purpose. Do you agree? 

Lauren Sawant: Oh, definitely. It helps so much when you’re bringing people into your team because you can sit down with them and show them one of your posts. But if you have specific rules that they can follow, especially as they’re learning, it’s going to really help them to catch on faster and it’s less work for you in the end, because as you’re reviewing their work, you don’t have to say, oh, how did I do this? How did I do that? You know that they’re following this rule sheet and you have it in front of yourself too, and just tick things off, it really speeds things up. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. I can think of ways that I could probably implement this in my business. So yeah, I appreciate that. It’s a little bit of work upfront, but it can go a long way, I imagine. Okay. Anything else about style sheets or style guides before we move on? 

Lauren Sawant: I think we pretty much covered it. Just my biggest thing is honestly just to have it open and don’t stress over it. It’s something that’s going to help you. So just have it open while you work and add to it as it makes sense to you. There are no hard and fast rules around it, even though it’s a sheet of rules. So it seems silly to say, but yeah, it’s your sheet, and have fun with it and make it work for you. 

Megan Porta: Awesome. Love it. So at what point do we launch into getting help with this? So obviously for a cookbook, you’re going to want an editor most likely, but as far as like your blog content, is there a point when we might need help and get editing help or what are your thoughts?

Lauren Sawant: So there’s kind of two moments where I think people have that sense that okay, I need help with this. When you’re first starting out and you want guidance on how to organize things or the flow of your content or especially like I have a lot of people that reach out to me for newsletters because it’s closely connected, but it’s still a whole different environment. So that first moment is when you’re starting out or starting like a new facet of your business where you’re like, okay, I, I think I need like a helping hand with this. That’s what in the editing world we call a developmental edit where we lay out the organization, and the flow, and just make sure that everything’s going to make sense as it’s laid out. Then the other moment is when you’ve done everything to the best of your ability, but you still have a sense or you’re getting feedback that some things are confusing, that you need just an extra set of eyes. So it’s at this stage that an editor can come in, we can assess grammar and stylistic issues. We can refine the readability of your recipes and help you with things like a style sheet, et cetera so you don’t have to keep an editor on forever. We can set you up to make sure that you’re ready to keep that high standard and apply it across everything. 

Megan Porta: I love that. I sometimes run across blogs where I’m like, oh my gosh, this content is so good, but not everybody is skilled in this area, right? A lot of people are skilled in recipe development and photography and even design. But sometimes not so much with putting words together. So some of us might need that, just a little bit of help with creating a style sheet or a style guide or just a template, like you mentioned, or something to set us on the path of following certain guidelines. So that’s what I hear you’re saying. 

Lauren Sawant: Definitely. I love things like that because so many of the bloggers I work with, everything is so beautiful and they’re so talented. I’m like, oh my God, I just want to eat your food. This is amazing. They just need that little step to step on to show the world. Those are actually some of my favorite jobs where I’m just like, your content is wonderful. I’m just going to do a little rephrasing, help you and then go have fun.

Megan Porta: So it’s not like you’re doing a bad job. It’s like I’m going to help tweak a few things and then set you out on your own to do an even better job. 

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. No one is ever doing a bad job. Everyone I meet is so talented. It’s just I come from a different profession. That’s it.

Megan Porta: Food bloggers are amazingly talented. Yes, it’s crazy. Okay, so how do we, if we do determine that we want editor help, support, where do we go look for one? How do we go about this? 

Lauren Sawant: So the best places to look are either professional editing associations like Editors Canada or the Editorial Freelancers Association. So Editors Canada is obviously more Canada-focused, but the EFA, it’s an American association. They have a lot of resources too. For how to find an editor, questions to ask an editor. They also have a page that shows the median editorial rates. That way when you’re talking to people, you have an idea of what people charge so you never pay too little or too much. You can find that happy medium. Then also Facebook groups. There are a couple really good ones that I love. There’s one called I Need a Book Editor. Even if you aren’t making a book, it’s a good group to look into because there are so many professional editors that are a part of this group. Then also EAE ad space, so it’s a job board specifically for professional editors on Facebook. It’s very well run, very professional. I Need a Book Editors also well run and yeah, in both of those places you’ll find tons of seasoned editors that are ready. It’s perfect. 

Megan Porta: What qualities do we look for mainly in an editor?

Lauren Sawant: So if you’re looking for an editor, the biggest thing to look for is professional training. A lot of times you’ll see people who have an English degree, which is super great, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify them to be an editor on a professional level. So when you’re looking for an editor or talking to potential candidates, ask them where they got their training, and what courses they took. Then also, if they have any professional affiliations. Some of these can get a little expensive, so not all editors have them, but a lot of them do belong to at least one association. Then also references. References might not always be available, but even if they aren’t, there are other ways to verify work such as testimonials, and a lot of editors offer free sample edits as well. So 1000 to 2000 words and you’ll get to see how the editor works, if they’re good for your style. So definitely ask about a sample edit and you won’t be sad. You’ll get some free work done for you, and you can also shop around and compare people’s different editing styles to see what works for you.

Megan Porta: What is the investment. I know it there’s probably a range, like anything, but what is a typical investment? 

Lauren Sawant: So it depends on what you need to be done. It varies by project and by editor. The EFA has a page that shows the going rates as of 2020. I’ll link to it in and you guys can share it in show notes or something like that, but it’s typically you’ll see anywhere from $30 to $40 an hour or $0.02 cents and upwards per word. But it varies by editor. Also don’t let that scare you from reaching out to someone, because I know it sounds like a lot of money per hour, but a lot of times if you reach out to editors and let them know your budget, they’ll probably be able to work with you, not necessarily for a full copy edit or a full service, but something that’s going to help you and be within your budget.

For example, I offer coaching calls where I sit with you for an hour. We go through whatever you want to work through, and we develop an action plan together. So that one’s like fairly affordable. It’s literally just an hour of my time and I’ll usually tweak it to someone’s budget too. So it’s not overly scary. If you do want to have a full book edited if that’s when you’re getting into more money. But that’s also a good sign too. If you have the budget you want You want a high-quality editor because if you get an editor that’s charging lower, it’s pretty likely that you’re going to end up with more work in the end, trying to figure out what’s happened to your document. 

Megan Porta: Yes. I think this is all across the board too, not just with editors, but anything. I’ve noticed a trend lately where writers are in our space, charging really low amounts for writing. I feel like that is a sign that maybe it’s not the best quality. I don’t know. You don’t want to have to go back and redo things. So this is definitely something to keep in mind. 

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. Also, just from a professional standpoint too, when you have people that. Charging less, even if they’re completely honest in doing so, devalues the profession a bit. Then you have everyone who’s trying to keep up their association memberships and a lot of us editors do continuing education, constantly too, to keep ourselves up to date. When rates start going down, it becomes more difficult to stay on the cutting edge of everything.

Megan Porta: Yeah. When I started noticing this trend in writing recently, I was like, oh gosh, that’s devaluing the writers who are actually, like you said, educated and really professional and delivering super quality writing. It’s such a kick in the stomach for them.

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. 

Megan Porta: It’s a weird situation. Because obviously, people want to pay a low price, but they want high value. I don’t know. That could be a whole other topic. 

Lauren Sawant: Yeah. That’s an episode in itself. 

Megan Porta: Yes. Yes. To be continued on that. Do you have any red flags to look out for when you’re looking for an editor? 

Lauren Sawant: Yeah. So like we were touching on, anything that’s priced too low, and then also a lot of people think that experience level is the red flag. My advice on that one is, it isn’t necessarily a red flag if someone’s inexperienced, if they’ve just graduated from an editing program, or have just finished taking courses. In that case, like even if it’s their first professional project, their head has been in their coursework and working on all their assignments, so they’re ready to edit. Maybe even more so than someone who’s edited a few things on their own, but maybe out of practice. They’re ready to go. So experience level, you have to take that on a case-by-case basis. Another red flag is, if an editor offers you error-free work, they guarantee that nothing is going to be wrong with it, that’s impossible. 

Megan Porta: That’s weird. 

Lauren Sawant: But I’ve seen it, especially on sites like Fiver and Upwork. If they’re offering that, then they definitely either have way too much confidence in their abilities, or they might be farming it out to someone else because that happens a lot too. Just be wary when someone says that your work is going to be completely fee-free from errors. Then also, another thing to watch out for is if someone doesn’t necessarily understand the role of an editor. So an editor is someone who’s going to be offering suggestions and their expertise, not rewriting your work. So if you get an editor, they do a sample edit, they send back a document that’s just completely different without the changes having been tracked or anything like that and just says this is what you should do with it. Admitting it’s more of a conversation. I give advice, and I ask you questions. I suggest my changes, but I don’t say, this is what you should do. I am completely right. If anyone acts like that, it’s probably a red flag. 

Megan Porta: Those are really good. Probably red flags we should look for everywhere. The promising perfection is so weird. I would automatically be like, what? What’s going on? That’s strange. 

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. But I see it all the time and I’m like, how can you do that? I could not make one tiny error. I’m going to miss a comma somewhere.

Megan Porta: Yeah. Then what else do we need to know about working with an editor? Any other things to keep on our radar?

Lauren Sawant: So one thing is editing terminology. So just knowing a few basic differences between words that people associate with editors but may not know the difference. So for example, proofreaders. Proofreaders aren’t editors. Proofreaders are the people that are going through a project at the very end and checking there’s a comma missed here. This quotation mark isn’t right. Your formatting isn’t right. Things like that. So if you’re looking for an editor, don’t Google Proofreader. Because you’re going to get a completely different profession, even though to people outside of the profession, it seems like the same thing. Then also, I touched on that before, but editors aren’t ghostwriters. A lot of us double as ghostwriters. I do some ghostwriting, but it’s more that like I said, we’re offering our suggestions for work and sharing our expertise. Then other things you should know are that all editors work differently. Everyone’s workflow is going to be a little bit different. For example, when I work on a cookbook, I’ll do passes for each part of the document, and I’ll track my changes. If I’m working in Word, I’ll contact you with questions editors, we call them queries. So I’ll query my author, say, Hey, I have questions on this and this. I’ll send you an editorial letter at the end. But not everyone necessarily does those things. So the way one editor does it could be very different from another. Also working with an editor, most of us will want to work in Microsoft Word. Most of the training for us is done in Word. It has pretty robust editing features. It has macros that make our lives a lot faster, but also too, more people are working in Google Docs as well. I know a lot of my clients really like to use Canva. I don’t mind working in Canva and I’ve figured out ways to make Canva work for me while I’m editing. It’s just a little bit of a different process. But I think just be aware that a lot of editors may not be comfortable working in Canva. So it’s something to just be on the lookout for and be prepared that if you are posting an editing job, just say Hey, this is in Canva or be prepared to put it into a Word document or a Google document. 

Megan Porta: This is such great information, something that I think is really important for us to think through. So I personally just really appreciate all of this information, Lauren. If you had a few just main takeaways for food bloggers listening, what would those be?

Lauren Sawant: Okay, so takeaway number one, whether you’re creating content for your social media feeds or a cookbook, professional grammar, and consistency in style, it’s so incredibly important. It’s especially true for blogs because you have loyal followers. They love to incorporate your recipes into their weekly meals, but if you don’t have consistency, it’s hard to keep people coming back, or at least not without confusing them and making them wade through a bit of information before they get what they need. 

Then take away number two, even if you decide you may want an editor, but you don’t have the budget, if you don’t have any budget at all, all hope is not lost. There are so many wonderful self-editing techniques you can learn. There are programs to help you. There are great communities online. I have a lot of resources that can go in the show notes, but there are so many places that can help you online for no money at all.

Megan Porta: Do you have favorite podcasts on the topic or just a few books that you could highlight here?

Lauren Sawant: Oh, definitely. Let’s see, so Everything Cookbooks is an amazing podcast, even if you aren’t planning to make a cookbook, you get an insight into the behind-the-scenes of that, and it can definitely help with your blog. Then also The Editing podcast. It’s aimed at editors obviously, but it’s super helpful for people just trying to improve their writing and understand how to make a document great. It’s run by these two lovely ladies from the United Kingdom. Their accents are gorgeous, and I just sit there listening to them. I’m like, oh my God, you guys are so cool. 

Megan Porta: Keep talking. 

Lauren Sawant: Exactly. But they’ve been editors for decades. One of them is a fiction editor, and one of them is a non-fiction editor. So you get a good balance there. It’s helped me a lot as I’ve grown my business. Then for books, definitely The Recipe Writer’s Handbook, and I’m sure a lot of your listeners already have Will Write For Food by Diane Jacob, that one’s pretty amazing. She also has a newsletter that has so much good information. It’s amazing. I think she has a free version and a paid version. If you have a small budget, definitely go for the paid version. It’s worth every penny. 

Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, like you said, Lauren, we’ll put the rest of your recommendations in your show notes, but wanted to get a few of those out there, so thank you. Is there anything that we’ve missed that you feel we should cover quick before we start saying goodbye? 

Lauren Sawant: I think we’ve got everything. 

Megan Porta: That was a lot. It was a lot of great information. Just why we should be thinking about this, tips for self-editing, considering style guide, style sheets, whether or not you should hire an editor. Just lots of great stuff here, so thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate you. 

Lauren Sawant: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. 

Megan Porta: Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to end with today?

Lauren Sawant: Honestly, my favorite quote, it sounds silly, but it’s from the Magic School Bus, my daughter’s been watching a lot of it lately. But, “take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” Listen to Miss Frizzle, like it can be so easy to get caught up in everything needing to be perfect, especially when you’re editing your content when you’re trying to get started too. But at the end of the day, it’s your content. It’s your voice. You need to be proud of it, and there are going to be mistakes. There comes a point where you just have to publish. Don’t be afraid of that moment. It’s okay to get messy. It’s okay to go out into the world and fix things later. 

Megan Porta: Oh, I love it. What a great way to end. Thank you for that. We will put together show notes for you, Lauren, with all of the great stuff we’ve talked about. If you want to look at those and get some of the resources that Lauren referred to, you can go to Tell everyone where they can find you, Lauren.

Lauren Sawant: So you can find me on Instagram. I post tips on writing great recipes at Garnish Editorial. I have a website, I do a lot on LinkedIn as well. Just type in my first and last name and I’ll pop up. You can always email me as well. I’m more than happy to answer any questions. [email protected] and I’m more than happy to have a free call or two with any of your listeners, just reach out to me and I’d be more than happy to get you started editing your content or setting up a system. I’m happy to do that. 

Megan Porta: That is so incredibly nice of you. Oh my goodness. I would take her up on that, whoever is listening. Thank you, Lauren. Truly appreciate it and am just so grateful for your time today thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.

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