You did it! You completed your book, and you’re on the verge of becoming a published author. But is your manuscript good enough to publish? Is it the best it can be? Are there any errors left? Odds are, before you publish, the next step is editing your book. Some authors try this themselves, but many find that getting fresh eyes on their manuscript is invaluable. A professional editor should catch and question things that you may not even consider. He or she can also help you prepare the book for publication according to industry standards. If you’re ready to proceed in your writing journey and you want to learn how to hire a book editor, read on.
If you don’t think you’ll be making any more substantive changes to your book, it’s probably time to move forward with hiring an editor. Depending on the manuscript’s state, there are several options available. Let’s look closely at book editor roles.
If you feel like you need help fine-tuning the plot of the book, checking factual information, or refining the structure, you may want to hire a developmental editor. A developmental editor with experience can help a writer make their book into a masterpiece.
If you need a line-by-line read of your book to find typos, grammatical errors, potentially offensive material, or factual issues, a copyeditor may be your best bet. Copyeditors read your text to make it tight, clear, and error-free.
If your book is already in good shape, you may opt for a proofreader instead of an editor. Proofreading involves checks for spelling or punctuation errors and that the formatting is clean. This is usually the last step before a book’s publication.
Typically, it’s time to hire a book editor after you’ve signed a contract with a publisher and you’re entering the home stretch before getting your book out to the world. Many publishers offer editing services as part of their author contracts. Others may require you to edit it on your own dime.
Regardless, it’s always a good idea to have your book professionally edited well before pitching it to publishers. You can use a book editing service or a freelance editor. Regardless, you want to make a good impression. A tight, clean manuscript is more likely to impress an interested publisher.
The book editing process can take anywhere from a week to several months, depending on several factors:
It’s important to have realistic expectations about the editing process. A good editor takes their time to do their best possible work. Make sure you are clear on the timeline for editing your book.
Before you hire a book editor, there are several things to do:
Hiring the right book editor is a weighty decision. Ideally, you’ll work with someone who understands your vision for the book and who wants to preserve your voice and tone. Sometimes, though, scheduling is the more important matter, and you need to find someone who can get the job done by your deadline. Other times, price is the most important factor when hiring an editor.
A good book editor is not only a wizard with spelling and grammar. They probably possess other important qualities as well.
Experience is key. An editor with experience on multiple books in your subject matter or genre will understand what message you’re trying to get across. They’ll also be more likely to find factual errors.
Many writers fear an editor’s “red pen,” but a good editor is also a good communicator. He or she will collaborate with you on the work instead of simply telling you what you’ve done wrong.
An editor who is a good fit will take as light or as heavy a touch as you want. If you need a full rewrite, let your developmental editor know, and agree on pricing up front. If you want to have your voice, tone, and style preserved, just speak up. The editor will fix the copy and address obvious spelling errors but should respect your wishes.
And most importantly, if the editor has any questions, they should speak up! Editing is a collaborative process, and the main goal is to deliver a high-quality publication to the printer.
When you are hiring an editor, there are several questions you should ask:
You should also consider a few things to avoid when hiring a book editor. Obviously, if a person gets poor reviews or feedback, they may not be your best option.
If you know the editor has a lot of competing priorities, this can be a double-edged sword. If the person is busy, it probably means they are very good. But if you want someone to devote a lot of time to your work immediately, you’ll need to factor in their schedule.
There’s no doubt about it: Money often rules the day. And good editors can be very expensive. Still, the investment is worth it, if it prevents costly mistakes from slipping through in your book. Publishers are more likely to promote a high-quality product, and readers trust authors more when they aren’t tripping over spelling and grammatical mistakes on the page. The editing process is very important to sharpen your manuscript.
The costs of hiring a book editor can, of course, vary. Hiring an editor on your own may be more expensive than taking advantage of the services offered by your publisher. Check to see what’s included in your contract.
Some editors offer a per-word or per-page editing rate. So if you know your book’s length, it should be fairly easy to control the editing costs. Other editors charge an hourly rate. In this case, you may be able to negotiate a hard cap on the number of hours you will pay for. Make sure you know the editor’s pricing up front.
Of course, there are a lot of other factors that play into the price of editing your book. A newer editor with less experience may be willing to give you a better deal. A very talented and established editor will probably give you better results but at a higher price point.
The level of editing you request is also a factor. Full, top-to-bottom developmental editing comes at a higher cost than copyediting. Simple proofreading for typos is much cheaper.
Additionally, you should factor in how many rounds of editing you need. If this is the first time your book is undergoing the editing process, the editor will probably have a lot of markups and lots of questions for you. It may be advantageous to pay the editor for two reviews—one initial edit, followed by a round of cleanup after you’ve had a chance to resolve the editor’s questions. Some authors even opt for a third round to ensure the book is extra clean.
Fortunately, there are several ways you may be able to save money on hiring a book editor.
One way is to avoid surprise costs. If you pay an editor by the word count, and you know your manuscript is fifty thousand words long, there ‘s no way you’ll be charged for seventy thousand words. If you impose a time cap on an hourly rate, make sure you understand the ramifications if the editor cannot finish within the established time frame.
Posting a job on gig sites is another good option to control costs. You can set your exact fee, and interested editors can take it or leave it. Bear in mind, though, that these freelancers may not be of the highest quality. If possible, vet them beforehand and check their references.
Purchasing an editing package may also be a good option. Some editing services will bundle together the costs of your editing services for you. They will hire the editor, check the quality of their work, and more. You can be as hands on as you wish, and the price is established ahead of time.
If all of this sounds good and you’re ready to move forward with editing, it’s now time to ask where you can find a quality book editor to make your book camera ready.
One of the best ways to find a good professional editor or editing service is to ask other authors who they’ve used. If you are signed with a publisher, other authors signed there may be willing to share their experiences with you. Your acquisitions editor or project manager may also be able to make recommendations.
If you are self-publishing, use your personal network to your advantage. You may be able to find a freelance book editor via social media. There are also many reputable agencies available that specialize in book editing. Your local library can also be a helpful resource.
If you are hunting for an editor, there are lots of online resources available. The Editorial Freelancers Association has a great website. Members can post their credentials for potential clients so you can search for an editor who fits the bill and factor in your budgeting.
You could also look into student groups, where college students are willing to edit your book in order to build their résumés. If there is a university press in your hometown, ask around there!
Check out Amazon sales pages for different books too. Sometimes the editor is listed here. Find a book by your favorite writer, and check to see if their editor is named on the page. It can’t hurt to reach out to them!
Elite Authors is a full-service agency committed to helping authors print and sell their books. Elite has a team of experienced editors and writers on hand who will leverage their expertise to edit and prepare your book for publication.
There are numerous packages available, ranging from simple copyedits to full developmental editing, not to mention book design and cover design services.
Are you ready to begin editing your book while working with a group of professional writers and editors? Elite offers a full range of editing services to meet your needs and budget.
Getting a quote is free and easy. Reach out today!