Here is a quick post with a few possibilities for getting your work edited. One is a tip if you want to try to do it yourself (can’t hurt!), and a story about something clever we did in a marketing department where I worked. I’ve also included a website through which you can contact experienced editors.
Do It Yourself (Fiction and Non-Fiction)
The most important thing if you want to try to do your own editing is to walk away and come back later. Time will give you some objectivity on what you’ve written. I read this advice years ago, and it works! I remember that the author of the article said that not even Picasso liked his stuff immediately, but later he’d take a second look and comment “not so bad!”
I’ve also found that pieces I didn’t like immediately, even after I edited them, were not so bad when I read them months later. Sometimes I’ve read a piece and said to myself “nicely done,” only to realize that I wrote it!
Peer Review (Marketing and Business Writing)
I once worked in a fully staffed marketing department with four full-time marketing writers, two part-time writers, and a very good writer-manager (what a luxury!). Although it sounded weird to me initially, we did peer review. Whenever we had to write a substantial piece like a case study, white paper, or brochure, we scheduled another writer to edit it after we had completed a draft. I originally thought this couldn’t possibly work, but it was great. And to my surprise, the youngest and weakest writer was the best editor! I learned a lot from these edits.
In some technical writing departments, senior writers serve as editors for junior writers, and I once did a software manual as an outside writer for a hardware company with this setup. I was assigned to a senior writer who was a very skilled and very sympathetic editor, and I gained valuable insights into my writing in this case also.
Professional organizations like the Society for Technical Communication sponsor local newsletters and competitions in addition to worldwide publications where other professionals in the field will provide feedback on articles you submit for publication.
Paid Services (Fiction and Non-Fiction)
Although I have never used outside professional editing services myself, I have had good experiences with workshops run by Writers Digest magazine, the company that publishes Writers Market. You can go to the Paid Services section of their website and click on Professional Services for a list of editors for hire.