There is substantial work involved when it comes to shaping a manuscript into a market-ready book, and one of the most important
aspects of this process is in the editing. If you are a traditionally-published author, you will have no choice but to work with an editor. But
if you self-publish, the choice is yours to make. That said, if you want to be respected as a serious author, you'll choose to have your
work professionally edited.
There is a certain amount of self-editing you can and should do. Then, once you get the manuscript as polished as you can with the
skills you have, a professional editor will ensure the finished product is comparable with a similar traditionally-published one.
Even well-established successful authors benefit from an editor. Writers are often just too close to their work to clearly see what needs
to be done in order to take the book from good to great, and that’s where an editing staff comes into play. I say staff because there are
many levels to editing.
Here is a list of what various editors look for in a manuscript:
Levels of Editing
There are arguably five different levels of editing.
- Manuscript assessment
- Content editing
- Line editing
- Copy editing
I say arguably because there appears to be no industry standard for what is included in each of the above categories. Talk to one
publisher and he’ll list ten different things his line editors look for in a manuscript. Talk to another and he’ll list six of the same things
and add three more of his own. Talk to a third one, and he’ll tell you something different.
I'll take a stab at listing what I most often see in the way of differentiating levels of editing:
Strengths and weaknesses of the manuscriptContent editing
Story line critique
Point of View
Accuracy of facts (editor may question them, not correct them)Line editing
Clarity of sentences, paragraphs, etc.
Use of clichés
Use of dialogue
Flow of sentences, paragraphs, etc.
Sentence and paragraph structureCopy editing
Second check for most things listed under line and copy editing
Because there is no industry standard for this, it's important when an editor tells you what he's going to charge you for his copy editing
fees, for example, that you ask him what’s included.
Most editors charge by the word. I've listed below some typical fees for each level of the editing process. That's not to say you can't find
less and more expensive editing rates out there. These are just the rates I most often see.
Manuscript assessment $0.010 - 0.030
Content editing $0.010 - 0.040
Line editing $0.015 - 0.030
Copy editing $0.010 - 0.020
Proofreading $0.010 - 0.025
Experienced editors who charge by the hour range $40-80/hour, depending on the level of service they are providing. Again, you might
be able to find less expensive ones, as I'm sure they exist.
Working With an Editor
Working with an editor requires thick skin and open-mindedness. You must be prepared for the editorial feedback you've sought after,
especially the high-level feedback. While it's pretty easy to accept someone telling you to use a semicolon instead of a comma in a
particular sentence, it's quite another thing to be told your character isn't believable. Keep in mind an experienced editor has been down
this road many times before and knows what readers want. Be open to criticism. Get the most out of the process.
That said, if you feel your editor's comment on something you've written is off base, and you're passionate about it, don't feel compelled
to change it. After all, it's your name on the cover, not the editor's. First talk it through with the editor, and if you still think the suggested
changes would negatively affect the story, I would go with your own instincts. My only advice is to really (and I mean really) try to be as
objective as possible before abandoning the suggestions. If they're suggesting something, it's likely they have a good reason.
This article talks about how to save money when using the services of an editor. http://www.livewritethrive.com/2014/09/01/easy-tips-to-
Here are two good articles about how to find the right editor. http://janefriedman.com/2013/05/31/find-freelance-book-editor/ and https:
Here are two organizations that can help you find an editor:
And here is the link to my editor's website www.carriecantor.com.
Start Writing a Book
Contrary to popular belief, editors don't exist to make your life miserable--they exist to help you make
your work clear, credible, and marketable.
Here are some good reasons for hiring a professional editor:
- Most writers don’t possess complete editorial skills. Qualified editors have a bachelor's or
master's degree in English, creative writing, communications or journalism and have been
educated in all aspects of writing and editing.
- Editors are likely to catch errors that authors miss since it’s easy for authors to inadvertently skip
over errors when they know what they meant.
- Editors can be more objective than the owner of the writing.
- After living and breathing the manuscript for months, writers often become too attached to be
critical. Editors don't have this problem.
- A fresh pair of eyes will catch missed errors.
- A good editor will challenge you to take your manuscript to the next level.
- A second opinion from someone who knows what sells can be invaluable.
- A poorly edited book is distracting to many readers.
- Your future writing will benefit when you incorporate the editor's changes and suggestions into
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