For any writer, having a good book editor is an essential link in getting their potential book in front of the readers. It doesn’t matter whether the writer wants her/his book in ‘standard’ print, online, or as an e-book. An editor is an omnipresent person that has to be within the publishing process, practically from start to finish.
As The Balance Careers explain, “book editors do a lot more than just read and edit raw manuscripts. They are a key part of the chain of command in publishing and have a lot of influence over which books get published and which ones don’t.”
But, as another source explains, there is a number of things editors do. Writers, editors themselves, and even their professional organizations define the job(s) of an editor differently. So, when an author wants to enlist the services of an editor, they must be absolutely certain what each editor they are considering provides as a service.
The editing process consists of different levels. It can be providing help to authors to come up with a book idea. They can look through thousands of manuscripts to see which are fit for publishing. They can work through each and every selected manuscript to make it fit for publishing and reading. Or, they can go through the version of the text to make sure there are no typos or missed punctuation. Actually, that last part is something in most cases proofreaders do.
Not all book editors do all of these jobs. Usually, they specialize in one or two types of editing. But, in these days of online publishing, there are book editors, particularly freelance, that provide all levels of the editing process.
Book editors are involved throughout the writing and publishing process
As Masterclas.com points out, for new writers, hiring a professional editor is a big decision. There are quite a number of elements in the editing process they need to consider. That is why “published authors often find an editor they like and continue to work with them on multiple projects.”
Very often, as mentioned, editors they have worked with previously can work on the book with the author right from the start. Then can help them formulate a book idea and work with them through the writing process.
Usually, during both the writing and publishing process, a writer may need more than one kind of editing. That is why right from the start they need to know what kind of editing service they need. Keeping at hand and checking out writer’s resources is an essential part of this process.
The Balance Careers (above) lists general elements a book editors do:
- They acquire or receive book manuscripts for review;
- The following step is to read, edit, and write content so that it is correct and understandable to the reader;
- verification of facts in the book – this is an essential part as to make sure that these are correct:
- Editors have to constantly work with the author to “ develop content in keeping with the publication’s style and editorial policy:”
- They have to maintain good working relationships with authors and other key staff involved in the publishing process:
- Keeping track of the dates in the publishing schedule so that everything is done on time – this includes weekly meetings to discuss these schedules and potential issues;
- Book editors have to work with publisher’s marketing “to promote the book by submitting content for both print and online announcements;”
- Finally, cultivate relationships with authors and lookout for new writing talent.
Rundown of book editing services
Writers and editors may define editing itself in different terms. Still, there are a number of editing services, that most of them define in the same manner. These include:
- Developmental editing – This type of editing can also be called structural or content editing. During that process, an editor looks at the key elements of any given book. If nonfiction is in question, they look at the overall structure. If it is a work of fiction, they take a closer look at the plot and the characters. Editors doing this part of the job asses the book idea itself, its outline, or an early draft. Based on their assessment, they tell the author what they find good and what parts need further work.
- Line editing, also known as substantive or stylistic editing. This is what many people have in mind when book editing comes to question. During this process, an “editor goes through each line refining the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences and smooth-transitioning paragraphs.”
- Copyediting is a separate process but is often combined with line editing. There, an editor corrects grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. This process also includes correcting commonly confused words “as well as checking for internal consistency of facts and consistency with capitalization, hyphenation, and numerals.”
- Proofreading is a separate process and is often done by another person than an editor. Still, some editors, particularly freelancers, offer this service along with editing itself. This should be a final check before publication to find missed typos, missing words, repeated words, spacing, and formatting consistency.
How to choose a book editor
When choosing a book editor there are a number of things a prospective writer has to consider. Of course, it all starts with the book itself, and it’s content.
Usually, the easiest way to go is recommendations. But, if you personally do not know many writers, checking recommendations of online services like BunnyStudio can be a starting reference point. Very often, writers leave comments on their work with particular editors.
But, if you need to go beyond recommendations, or if none are available, there are certain initial criteria you would need to consider.
What is the editor’s specialty? – For example, are you looking for an editor that will strictly abide by the stylistic rules (Chicago Manual of Style)? Or, do you need an editor who specializes in line editing? That would be someone who specializes in smooth, clear, and creative sentences.
Specialty editors can also focus on grammar or spelling mistakes. This is certainly important for non-native speakers. On the other hand, there are editors who specialize in reviewing the overall structure or plot of a prospective book.
A specific genre an editor works on. There, usually, there are book editors that specialize in either fiction or nonfiction. Each of these types of editors should really know what works with the audiences of these genres and what kind of structure the books within the genre should have.
Target language. This might sound self-evident, but even within one language like English, there are different grammar and spelling rules. You don’t have to go any further than such differences between American English and British English. Such differences also exist in other languages too.
Some technical elements to consider
When selecting a book editor there are some technical elements that you need to consider.
One such element is software and systems. The word manuscript certainly comes from the times when writers did everything in handwriting. These days though with computers and online services each and every writer has a preference for an operating system or writing tools and applications they use. When choosing an editor it is good to consider those that also work with the same or compatible set of tools.
Another thing to consider is whether an editor is will do a sample edit. Most editors will do so. In such cases, it is good to send the same sample to all the editors on your shortlist.” Every editor edits differently. This will be a chance to find out if they can make your book better, keep your voice, and work well with you.”
And then there’s the question of editing rates. As you might expect, editing rates differ from editing service to editing service, from one freelance editor to another. These rates can be on the per word basis, per hour, or per project.
Masterclass.com (above) notes that each writer should know their numbers. That means that they should always have in mind their word and page count. “A 100,000-word manuscript will be more expensive than a book with 50,000 words.” But, things that you need also to consider are the complexity of the text, as well as the deadlines.
The same source says that The Editorial Freelancers Association has a standard freelance editing rate sheet. On average, an editor’s rate can be anywhere from $0.02 per word to $0.25 per word.
The above source also gives a more detailed outlook on the rates of book editors, depending on the type of editing involved.
“Some editors have a flat fee and ask for a percentage upfront while others charge an hourly rate. In the end, editing costs boil down to a per word rate.
Developmental editing: $45-$55 per hour, 1-5 manuscript pages an hour
Heavy copyediting: $40-$50 per hour, 2-5 pages an hour
Basic copyediting: $30-$40 per hour, 5-10 pages an hour
Proofreading: $30-$35 per hour, proofreading 9-13 pages an hour.”
As far as the employment of ‘standard,’ print editors comes into question, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the employment of editors is expected to have little change up to 2026, as print media continues to face strong pressure from online publications.
That is why most of the action for book editors is online as freelancers. The number of online freelance services is quite abundant, but it is always the best choice to go with the service you have experience and trust in. A service that has a strict selection of experienced, professional freelancers, in this case, book editors.