Writing a book is a solo endeavor. However, before your story ever sees the light of day, you will need outside help to perfect your finished product. That’s where a book editor comes into the picture as they can help polish a story to get it ready to read. Even bestselling authors work with professional book editors to make their stories better and ready to be published.
Whether they are freelancers working on their own or full-time editors at a traditional publishing house, professional editors play a vital role in the book publishing industry. An editor will not only review the story but revise it and break it down word-by-word, line-by-line, and page-by-page. They will review elements such as clarity, grammar, content, and accuracy to make sure a book is ready to move on to the next level and is finally closer to getting published.
If you’re self-publishing your own book or planning to shop your manuscript to the big publishing houses, it is important that your manuscript is ready and refined for other people to read it. A book editor will go over your book in-depth, depending on what level of editing you require. Line editing requires a closer reading, while developmental editing involves a big-picture approach. Editors find a way to make your writing better, both creatively and technically.
Types of Book Editing Services
Most writers tend to self-edit their own manuscripts and then recruit beta readers to get feedback. Beta readers are people who volunteer or are hired to read a draft. A professional book editor goes even deeper into the mechanics of a book to refine phrases and words to make a story better and easier to sell. When it comes to finding the right editor for your book, you must first determine what type of editing you require.
To help you out, we will highlight the different types of editing and types of editors you can hire for your book:
A developmental editor is a big picture person. They handle character development and content editing, and they help with the overall structure of a book for both fiction and non-fiction. They will help you find plot holes, better develop your characters, and work with your book’s overall flow.
A line editor has the meticulous job of polishing sentences. The editor will analyze the lines for structure, word choice, content, and flow between the paragraphs and sentences.
A copy editor works on the details of sentences and words. They look for punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors in the content. They also ensure consistency throughout a book.
Proofreading is one of the final steps in the editing process before a book gets published. A proofreader will go through the content to look for technical errors such as formatting issues, typos, and missing or repetitive content.
Things to Consider Before Hiring a Book Editor
Hiring a professional book editor is a major decision, especially for new writers. Published authors often find an editor they like and continue to work with them on multiple projects. If this is your first time, here are some things to consider before you hire a book editor:
1. Are You Self-Editing?
Writers can start the editing process for their book by self-editing their first draft. Bringing on beta readers, people who are either paid or non-paid volunteers to read a draft and give feedback, is another way to help the process of shaping a story before a professional editor comes on board.
While some authors only want to work with a couple of beta readers, others choose to use many. Oftentimes, someone willing to be a beta reader is also willing to provide an early review. Those first reviews should be part of your marketing plan for the book.
Need some ideas of places to look for reviewers? Check out this article.
2. What’s Your Writing Experience?
If you’re working on your first book, you may need more than one kind of editing. Copy editing can refine your writing skills, while developmental editing can help your structure and character development. Some editors even offer ghostwriting services where they write under your name.
It goes without saying that you should not take an editor’s comments, edits, and insights too personally. If you are writing your first book, they can help you become a better writer, but only if you let them.
3. Know Your Numbers
Know both your word count and page count of the book. Editorial rates tend to vary, but they often break down to a price per page or per word. A 100,000-word manuscript will be more expensive than a book with 50,000 words. Of course, never trim your word count down if it will take away important elements from your book.
4. Know the Type of Editing Service Your Book Needs
Apart from your own revisions, you will most likely need some professional editing. There are different levels of book editing. If you hire a developmental editor, they will look at the big picture and help with content and your book’s structure.
You can even bring them on early in the writing process to refine your book. A line editor and a copy editor will look at the grammar, structure, word choice, punctuation, and page flow. A proofreader will review for formatting, basic typos, and consistency.
5. Research the Editor’s Experience
If you’re going to hire a freelance editor, find out how many years of experience they have. Also, ask if they have worked in-house at a publishing house, which is a good experience for an editor. You can review their testimonials, past work, and referrals, and if they have edited a book that became a bestseller, then that’s a great sign. If you want to get a feel for how they work with your material, ask if they will do a sample edit on a few pages of your book.
6. Understand the Editor’s Process
When hiring an editor, you must understand how they plan to work with you. Some editors go through your book once. They highlight changes and send the book back to you.
Others have a more interactive process. They may work a few chapters at a time, send you the edits, and then wait for you to provide your feedback. Still, others may go through the entire book multiple times. These editors tend to be more expensive but may result in a better outcome.
7. How Complex Is Your Project?
If you have a non-fiction book with a very specific subject matter, the editing costs will be higher than a straight narrative due to the complex nature of the editing involved. If you need fact-checking, that will add to the cost.
8. What’s Your Deadline?
Editing will be more expensive if you are on a tight deadline and need a fast turnaround. First-time authors often fail to realize the amount of time that editing requires. Be sure to give yourself and editors plenty of time to do a quality job.
How to Choose a Book Editor?
Finding the best editor for your project, especially if it is your first book, does require a fair bit of leg work. First, you will need to craft a query letter to prospective editors. Query editors with short, to-the-point emails. Introduce yourself and your idea, and ask if they will be interested in working with you. If they are, they will respond; but if not, you will not hear from them.
Ultimately, you need an editor who will preserve your voice while making changes to your book that will help it get published. To help you make the right choice, here are some of the qualities you must consider when searching for the right book editor for your book:
Are They An Experience Editor?
One of the first things to review when looking for a book editor is their experience. Ask for an example of their work. Many experienced editors have worked for traditional publishers, and you must find out how many years of experience they have as an in-house editor.
This background will give an editor an inside track on what’s trending as well as contacts when you’re ready to submit your book to a publisher. Review their testimonials, and get references for their work. It’s a good sign if they have a bestseller under their belts.
What Is Their Editing Specialty?
Determine what level of professional editing services you need. New authors might want to consider starting with a developmental editor to help shape the structure of their book.
Do They Specialize in Editing Your Genre?
Find an editor who has experience in the same genre as your book. If you’re writing a children’s story, you don’t want an editor whose experience is mostly in self-help books. A fiction editor is a better fit than a non-fiction editor if your story is a fictional narrative.
However, don’t get trapped into thinking you need an editor with overwhelming qualifications in one genre. Many editors prefer to work in multiple genres so that they don’t get bored reading overly similar books.
What Software Do They Use?
Some writers use specific software programs for writing their manuscripts, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Even though many people are fluent in the different programs, you need to ensure that the editor can use the same program as you so that you can track the changes made to the book.
If an editor does not provide the changes they are making to your book, do not use them.
How Much Do They Cost?
The cost of book editing varies depending on the editor and the type of editing they provide. Most editors charge by the word, hour, or by the project. You need to determine your budget and the amount of help you really need with your book.
Can They Do a Sample Edit?
If you want to test your compatibility with an editor, have them do a sample edit. Send them around five to ten pages of your book and see what suggestions and revisions they come back with.
Sources for Finding Editors
While you can certainly browse through Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook looking for editors, better methods exist.
If you have authors that you enjoy reading, look at the copyright page of the book. The editor will be listed. You can then search the web and social media to find whether they are taking on new authors.
Writing groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are also good places to start. You can post a question to the group, asking for editor recommendations. Be sure to research any suggested editor before reaching out.
The Membership Directory of the Editorial Freelancers Association is an outstanding source of professional book editors. You can search their members by multiple criteria, such as skills, genre, and location.
When it comes to finding the right book editor for your book, you must consider several things. We have outlined all the main things you should be looking for when searching for the right editor for your book. Whether you’re an indie author who wants to get their story published or self-publishing your book, investing in an editor will improve your chances of selling more copies of your book.