“Books are collaborative creations.”
Don’t be afraid to hire an editor.
When you’ve finished self-editing and reading through your book out loud, it’s time to pass your manuscript off to a professional editor. This can be scary. You won’t feel ready, but don’t wait. When you allow someone else to read it (a professional editor, an English teacher, or even an educated friend), you’re taking your book to the next level. Be open to feedback and don’t take it personally. As the author, you always reserve the right to accept or reject suggestions. An editor will lend a fresh set of eyes on your text and represent your readers.
How to choose an editor
Ideally, you want to work with an editor who is passionate about your book’s message and specializes in your genre. I prefer to work with Christian authors who are penning non-fiction like a memoir or a devotional, however, contact me. I’d love to hear about your book idea! If I can’t help, we’ll look for a recommendation or I’ll send you to online listings of editors who specialize in your genre.
The editing process typically takes anywhere between two weeks and three months. Editors are often booked weeks or months out. Begin looking for an editor at least a month before you want them to start. Communicate about needed turnaround time and set deadlines before you start, so you and your editor are on the same page. Don’t prioritize speed at the expense of quality, though.
How much does professional editing cost?
Expect to pay $0.02 to $0.04 per word, depending on the editor’s experience, the condition of your manuscript, and the time it takes for an editor to go through it. For example, if your manuscript is 30,000 words total, expect to pay between $600 and $1,200 approximately. More experienced editors will charge more. An up and coming editor (like me) will be more affordable. That’s why reducing your word count during your self-edit will save you money.
Why hire an editor?
Editing is an investment, but it will literally pay dividends until you die. By creating a better book, you’ll become more credible as an author, receive more positive reviews, and ultimately sell more books. The great thing about writing and selling a book is the passive income it will generate for the rest of your life!
Types of Editing
Following are editing phases you might go through in the order you would go through them.
Developmental editing (also known as substantive, structural, or content editing) is the first step toward refinement. You and your developmental editor (or “book doctor”) will work together to resolve “big picture” issues. They’ll help you optimize the organization of your content; look for missing, unnecessary, or duplicate information; and evaluate the order of things, how it flows, transitions between chapters or scenes, the storyline, characters, and overall clarity. They do not edit things like grammar or typos on the sentence level. When you hire an editor who specializes in your genre, they will be more familiar with your target audience, industry standards, and genre tropes. A lower cost option is to request an overall assessment or manuscript evaluation that will point to problems. You would then edit and make improvements yourself.
After your developmental work is complete, you’ll move on to line editing. Line editing occurs at the paragraph or sentence level. Your goal is to improve the wording and style of the text. Think of it as fine-tuning. Is there a way to make a sentence easier to read and understand? Can you rephrase the statement to pack a stronger punch? A line editor is detail-oriented and a wordsmith at heart. They’ll catch small inconsistencies and make your message memorable. I love line editing! You can pair it with your developmental edit or your copyedit.
Copyeditors correct spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation; check cross-references; and prepare the style sheets that guide consistency across the manuscript (for the benefit of the author and future proofreaders). Using references like The Chicago Manual of Style and a dictionary, a copyeditor will evaluate details like number treatment (should it be a numeral or spelled out?), compound words (should it be open, closed, or hyphenated?), and punctuation (should it be a comma or semicolon?). Per your request, a copyeditor can review the manuscript at a light level (making a notation to the author) or a heavy level (revising the text for you). You can accept or reject suggestions using the “Track Changes” feature in Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs. Editors often line edit and copyedit simultaneously (that’s how I work).
Also known as typesetting, book design is the art of creating a book’s interior. Design work might be very image-oriented (for children’s books) or primarily text-based. You’ll decide on the size of your book, what fonts or template to use, what front and back matter pages to include, the look of chapter heads, what to put in headers and footers, and where to place images. Your designer will produce two different files for you–one for your ebook and one for your hard copy. A formatter might also offer cover design services. Your book cover and interior are critical to success.
Proofreaders check the final book files or a proof copy for any unfound errors, like typographical errors and problems with typesetting. If I line edit and copyedit for a client, I recommend they use another editor (or someone else) for proofreading.
Other Editing Services
You can also find professionals who specialize in coaching/consulting, curriculum development, indexing, marketing/promotion (I’m working on a resource!), permissions, project management, research/fact checking, transcription, translation, and sensitivity reading.
Request an Editing Quote
And there you have it! If you’re currently writing or thinking about starting, I’d love to hear about it and cheer you on. Comment below or request a quote by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.