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I often work on lessons for ESL students - texts, dialogues, etc. I'm not a native speaker and I don't have any friends abroad. I often need copyeditors for my lessons, but I seem to have trouble finding the right people for the job. I need editors who could not only point out spelling and grammar mistakes, but also find any inconsistencies in the texts and make them easier to read. I tried hiring editors from different "proofreading" websites, but none of them did a really thorough job on my texts. Any tips as to where should I look for the right people?

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closed as off topic by Ralph Gallagher, John Smithers, Craig Sefton, Neil Fein, HedgeMage Apr 12 '11 at 14:18

Questions on Writers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to writing, copywriting, publishing or editing within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

The 'friends abroad' thing has me confused...where are you? In a country where English is a first language, or somewhere that native English speakers are rare? – Kate S. Apr 10 '11 at 11:38
I thought we determined that looking for job and hiring posts were off topic. – Ralph Gallagher Apr 10 '11 at 14:09
@Ralph - asking "hire me" is off-topic. Asking "how do I go about hiring such a person" I think might be on, but we can take it to meta to ask. – justkt Apr 10 '11 at 16:38
@Kate - I live in a non-English-speaking country. – EslTeacher Apr 10 '11 at 19:57
I did file the last close vote, because this gets too close to recommending specific services (a shopping question is off-topic). However, I'd enthusiastically re-open if someone wants to edit this to be more about how to evaluate a good editor or something less along the lines of "where/who do I get good editing from" – HedgeMage Apr 12 '11 at 14:20

This isn't a bad question, and it is a problem. TBH, I'm not sure how to get around it, either. That being said, the normal places you'd go for this kind of thing is the 800lb gorilla: Elance.

The trouble with this is that most clients (the ones buying freelancer services) are price-buyers. That is, all they care about is how cheap they can get someone to do X or Y. Quality is a distant second or third consideration. That means a lot of the freelancers that are drawn to places like Elance aren't very good. (Because the good ones have a steady stream of work, or work for someone else.) You can't really expect high quality work when you're paying crap wages. (The equivalent of $10/hr isn't enough to entice anyone but the really desperate, or people who live in other countries whose primary language isn't English.)

All the same, you don't have enough work to justify contacting a translation agency, and you don't have the funding to post a job ad on a quality board. (Writers.StackExchange doesn't have a careers section like StackOverflow.) So that leaves you with creative approaches to getting quality people.

  1. Contact an English professor at a US university, explain your situation and ask if s/he's aware of any talented students that might be interested in doing some editing.
  2. Post on Craigslist, and be completely open about what you can afford to pay.
  3. Look at some of the top posters here, and see if they have contact information in their profiles, and email a few of them, and explain how you found them, and be open about what you can afford to pay.
  4. Whatever else you can think of

The problem with these approaches is credibility, particularly because people are rightly skeptical of overseas work with Sakawa being so prevalent, so be prepared to be rejected quite a bit, and be prepared to have to make a substantial up-front, good-faith deposit before getting someone to commit. Be prepared to lose a bit of money if people bail on you. (These are mitigated a bit with approach #1 and #3.)

Good luck!

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