You’ve written your creative-writing heart out, and the world needs to read your words. So now what? It’s time for some professional book editing before dipping your toes into the publishing industry.
Whether you plan to self-publish your book or pitch it to one of the major publishing houses, a professional edit of your manuscript gives your writing journey the best chance at a happy ending.
How to Find a Book Editor
Finding a professional editor is as simple as a quick Google search. The only problem is that once you find one (or a million), how do you know when you have the right one? Whether you’ve written a children’s, nonfiction, or fiction book, here are a few things to consider when seeking manuscript editing services.
1. Personality. Didn’t see this one coming, did you? Unfortunately, personality is difficult to measure based on an editor’s online presence, so you will need to contact your potential editor via email or phone to find out just who this editor is. Why does personality matter? Because having an editor you like will make the process much less painful. After all, you’re paying this person to tell you what’s wrong with your book. Liking the person makes the process more pleasant.
2. Experience. Has the editor worked on published books before or is he just getting started? While there is nothing wrong with someone without publishing experience (everyone has to start), editors’ prices should reflect their level of experience. Because while book authors disagree about a lot, they agree on one thing: money doesn’t grow on trees. Neither do well-edited books. So choose your editor wisely.
3. Purpose. Why do you need an editor? A developmental editor takes a deep dive into your book manuscript. Developmental editing may lead to a restructuring of your novel, content addition or subtraction, or other changes to your book baby. A copy editor gets down to the nitty gritty, hunting for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, repetitions, and inconsistencies. Copy editing (or copyediting—yes, even the spelling of the word itself is up for debate) won’t change your overall story. It will, however, make it read better. Line editors work to tighten up your prose. With good line editing, 100,000-word science-fiction manuscripts magically drop to 80,000 words with consistent tone, killer transitions between chapters and ideas, and smooth overall flow. Proofreading is the final step of the editing process. Once your book is laid out and ready for print, a proofreading editor will comb through your book’s PDF proof and remedy problems that weren’t caught yet, such as spelling or grammar mistakes. A proofreading editor will also make sure the layout of the book doesn’t cause problems and will point out words or sections that break strangely due to page layout.
4. Process. Every editor has a different editing process. Knowing your editor’s process upfront helps prevent frustration in the future. Will your editor contact you every day with updates on your manuscript or go missing for three months at a time? Do you have to get to see a sample of the editor’s editing style prior to entering into a contract or do you only see the editor’s work after having your entire manuscript edited?
5. Price. One of the most frightening aspects of hiring a professional book editor is price. You want your book to be its best, but does it have to cost so much? For a good editor, you should expect to pay between $700 and $1,400 for a 60,000-word book, depending on what you’re looking for. You can easily find a family member or friend who will edit 60,000 words for $100, but prepare to get what you pay for! As with plumbers, mechanics, and tattooists, good editors aren’t cheap, and in most cases, cheap editors aren’t good. (Or at least they’re not experienced enough to charge their worth.)
Could I Be Your Book Editor?
Wondering if I could be you book editor of choice? Let me explain how I measure up to the above considerations.
My editing personality is encouraging but blunt. I do my best to point out strong areas in your writing, while also showing areas of weakness. Initially, I point out these weaknesses gently. Once you’ve heard it a time or two, I simply point them out as fact, expecting you will know I mean no harm. After all, every suggestion I make is to help make your book the best it can be.
I’ve been writing and editing for a living since 2002. In 2009, I got my first book-editing experience. It was exhausting work, but the end product turned out great. I even suggested a title change that clarified the book’s purpose, and the publisher accepted my suggestion. (Pretty gutsy for a newbie!)
My purpose in editing is to give authors what they want, whether that is a full manuscript review or a simple proofreading of the text. I love improving sentence structure and pointing out word choice problems, without overwhelming your writing style. I also enjoy pointing out inconsistencies in stories, holes that need to be filled, and threads that could use some tying up. So I do a combination of editing styles. I just can’t help myself! Pretty good deal, eh?
Through the years, I’ve developed an editorial process that makes the editing experience enjoyable and predictable for authors and me. The first step is to submit the first 500 words of your manuscript. I then provide a free sample edit of your manuscript, using track changes in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Like what you see? I quote a price to edit the remainder of your book, and we move forward. Most manuscript editing is completed within two weeks.
When it comes to price, there are a few things that matter. If you’re already a published author, have a literary agent, and work with a writing coach, you will get a better price. Why? Because your book has likely already been edited multiple times. In these cases, you won’t need substantive editing or help with character development. You’ll need some light proofreading and/or copy/line editing. Not put your book through a comprehensive edit yet? Your manuscript will likely need heavy editing. Therefore, it will likely cost more. That said, my fee is $100–$250/10k words. Cleaner manuscripts that are further along the publishing process are closer to $100/10k, whereas writers that need heavy editing cost closer to $250/10k.
A Note on Style Books
While much of the world ignores style books, folks who offer editorial services are usually rather opinionated about them. That said, you may be wondering where my style loyalty lies. (Oh, you’re not? Well, humor me anyway!)
While some prefer to keep their style-guide cards close to their chest, let it be known that I love Chicago Manual of Style. (Sorry, AP fans. But seriously, who doesn’t love the Oxford comma?) Granted, I’ve got The Associated Press Stylebook sitting on my desk, but the Chicago Manual gets a lot more attention.
And yes, I know I broke some Chicago rules above (particularly when I used numerals), but this isn’t a book. It’s a blog post! And besides, I like how numerals look.
So if you’re looking for a Chicago guy to offer quality editing of your manuscript, head to the book editing page to start talking about the possibilities.
P.S. Looking for book formatting services and book cover design in addition to professional editing services? Check out Argyle Fox Publishing. Not a traditional publisher, Argyle Fox is a turnkey publishing service I provide that helps independent authors find publishing success.