Professional Book Editing Services: How to Get Started For Your Book

by | Feb 1, 2024 | Editing

Key Points You Will Learn About Professional Book Editing Services and How to Get Started:

  • Identify the type of editing your manuscript requires: developmental, line editing, copy editing, or proofreading.
  • Before approaching an editor, refine your manuscript with self-assessment and feedback from beta readers.
  • Understand the importance of clear communication and setting expectations with your editor.
  • Be aware of the costs involved in professional book editing services and budget accordingly.
  • Know the steps to take after receiving your edited manuscript to maintain your voice while implementing changes.

Finding the Perfect Match: Selecting the Right Editor for Your Book

Understanding Different Types of Book Editing Services

When you’re ready to polish your manuscript, it’s crucial to choose the right kind of book editing. Think of editing like building a house. You wouldn’t decorate the interior before the walls are up, right? In the same way, there are different stages of book editing services, and each serves a unique purpose.

  • Developmental Editing – This is the big picture stuff. A developmental editor helps you with the structure of your book, plot, character development, and pacing. Or if a non-fiction work, one will deal with consistency of data, making sure the author’s ideas, thoughts and concepts have been fully and clearly articulated, keeping the information congruent, and so forth.
  • Line Editing – This comes next. It’s about how you use language to communicate your story. A line editor refines your writing, focusing on paragraph structure, tone, and style.
  • Copy Editing – Now we’re getting into the details. Copy editors correct grammatical errors, inconsistencies, and formatting issues.
  • Proofreading – The final touch. Proofreaders catch any typos or small mistakes that everyone else missed.

Understanding the differences between these services is the first step to ensuring your book gets the right kind of attention it needs.

The Difference Between a Line Editor & a Copy Editor

Since most people think they are one and the same, I think it’s important that I add a little more about the differences between a line editor and a copy editor.

Line editors and copy editors are distinct roles in the field of editing, each with its own set of responsibilities. While there may be some overlap in the tasks they perform, they generally focus on different aspects of the editing process.

Line Editor

Responsibilities: Line editing involves reviewing and improving the overall flow, structure, and clarity of a written piece. Line editors work on the sentence and paragraph level, addressing issues such as syntax, tone, and coherence. They may suggest rephrasing sentences, improving transitions, and ensuring the text reads smoothly.

Focus: Line editors concentrate on the creative and stylistic aspects of writing, aiming to enhance the author’s voice and the overall quality of the prose.

Copy Editor

Responsibilities: Copy editing, on the other hand, focuses more on the technical and grammatical aspects of a written work. Copy editors check for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistency in style. They also ensure that the text adheres to a specific style guide and may address issues related to formatting and typography.

Focus: Copy editors aim to polish the text, making it error-free and conforming to established language and style standards.

While both line editors and copy editors contribute to improving the overall quality of a written piece, line editors focus on the creative and structural elements, whereas copy editors concentrate on the technical and grammatical aspects. Depending on the nature of the editing task, a publication may use one or both types of editors to ensure a well-crafted and error-free final product.


Editorial Styles: Which One Suits Your Book Best?

Each book is unique, and so is its editing needs. A how-to guide won’t need the same type of editing as a fantasy novel. Therefore, consider your genre and the stage of your manuscript to determine the best fit:

  • If your story’s foundation needs work, a developmental editor is your go-to.
  • For manuscripts that are structurally sound but need language polishing, a line editor will serve you best.
  • For those final checks to ensure grammatical perfection, look for a copy editor or proofreader.

Choose wisely, because the right editorial style can elevate your book from good to great. Just the same, the wrong editor might ruin things by losing your voice, personality, or other vital aspects that make your book uniquely yours.

Pre-Editing Preparation: What You Need to Do Beforehand

Self-Assessment: Knowing Your Manuscript’s Needs

Before you even think about reaching out to an editor, take a hard look at your manuscript. Ask yourself: What are its strengths? Where could it improve? Being honest with yourself here will save you time and money later on.

Gathering Feedback: Why Beta Readers Matter

Beta readers are like your book’s test audience. They’re invaluable because they can point out things you might be too close to see. When choosing beta readers, look for people who:

  • Enjoy your genre.
  • Are not afraid to give you honest feedback.
  • Can articulate their thoughts clearly.

Their insights will help you understand what an editor might focus on and prepare you for the next steps.

The Communication Key: Working with Your Chosen Editor

Setting Clear Expectations and Deadlines

Once you’ve chosen an editor, clear communication is vital. Be upfront about what you’re looking for and discuss deadlines. Remember, a good editor will be honest with you about what your book needs and how long it will take. Set up a timeline that works for both of you, and make sure you’re both clear on the deliverables.

Effective Feedback Loops: Revising and Responding

Feedback is a two-way street. As you receive edits, it’s important to review them thoroughly and provide feedback to your editor. This doesn’t mean you need to accept every change, but you should consider each one carefully. An effective feedback loop can look like this:

  • Read through the edits and suggestions your editor has made.
  • Decide which changes you agree with and which you may question.
  • Communicate your thoughts back to the editor, providing clear reasons for any disagreements.
  • Be open to the editor’s rationale—they’re experienced professionals, after all.

This collaborative process will ensure that the final product is polished while still retaining your unique voice.

Budgeting for Success: Understanding Costs and Value

Book editing services is an investment in your book’s success. While it can be tempting to cut corners to save money, remember that a well-edited book reflects on your professionalism and dedication to your craft.

Navigating Pricing Structures: Per-word vs. Hourly Rates

Editors typically charge in two ways: per-word rates or hourly rates. Here’s a quick comparison:

Per-Word Rates Hourly Rates
Know the cost upfront Pay for the actual time spent
Best for clearly defined projects, knowing cost upfront More flexible for complex, evolving edits
Can be more budget-friendly Allows for detailed, in-depth editing


Discuss with your editor which structure suits your project and budget better.

Long-Term Investment: Why Skimping on Editing Can Cost You More

It’s a simple truth: readers notice poor editing. A book riddled with errors can hurt your reputation and your sales. Investing in a good book editor now can save you the cost of a tarnished author brand later. Most importantly, consider the value an editor adds beyond mere corrections—they can transform your writing into something truly special.


After the Edit: Next Steps Once You Receive Your Manuscript

Once you’ve gotten your edited manuscript back, it’s time to review the changes. This stage is about merging the editor’s improvements with your vision for the book.

Review and Implement: Handling Editor’s Suggestions

Go through the suggestions carefully. Implement the changes that resonate with you and enhance your work. If there’s something you’re not sure about, don’t hesitate to reach out to your editor for clarification. Remember, this is your book, and you have the final say.

Maintaining Voice and Vision: Balancing Changes and Originality

While it’s important to trust your editor’s expertise, it’s equally important to maintain your voice and vision for your book. If a suggested change doesn’t align with your vision, it’s okay to push back. Here’s an example:

“After reviewing the edits, I realized that the editor had suggested a change that altered the meaning of a crucial point being made. I decided to keep the original wording because it was integral to my readers’ understanding and development.”

This balance ensures that the book remains authentically yours while benefiting from professional refinement.


How long does the book editing services usually take?

The time frame for editing a book can vary widely depending on the length and complexity of your manuscript, as well as the type of editing service you’ve chosen. On average, expect:

  • Developmental editing to take 1-3 months.
  • Line editing and copy editing to take 3-6 weeks each or longer.
  • Proofreading to take 1-3 weeks or more.

Always discuss timelines with your editor beforehand to align expectations.

What qualifications should I look for in a professional editor?

Look for an editor with:

  • A strong track record in your genre.
  • Excellent references or testimonials.
  • Relevant qualifications or membership in professional editing associations.
  • Clear communication and a transparent editing process.

These qualifications help ensure that you’re working with a professional who can improve your manuscript.

How do I know which type of editing my book needs?

To determine the type of editing your book needs, consider:

  • The stage of your manuscript (early drafts usually need developmental editing).
  • Your writing experience (new authors often benefit from more comprehensive editing).
  • Feedback from beta readers or writing groups.
  • Your publishing goals (a high level of polish is crucial for competitive markets).

When in doubt, consult with a professional editor for their recommendation.

Can I negotiate rates with book editors?

While some editors have fixed rates, others may be open to negotiation, especially for larger projects or long-term relationships. It’s always worth discussing your budget and seeing if there’s a mutually agreeable rate. Just remember, you often get what you pay for in editing services.

What should I do if I disagree with the editor’s suggestions?

If you find yourself disagreeing with an editor’s suggestions, consider the following:

  • Understand the rationale behind each suggestion. Editors have experience and may see things you don’t.
  • Communicate your concerns and discuss possible compromises.
  • Remember the ultimate goal is to improve your book. Stay open-minded to changes that support this.
  • However, maintain your voice and vision. If a suggestion doesn’t align with your book’s core, it’s okay to reject it.

Editing is a collaborative process, and the final decision is always yours.

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