Congratulations! Finally, after all of that hard work, you finished your manuscripts. All those tears and long nights have come to an end, right?

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. The next part of the process is editing the manuscript. Whenever you approach a publisher, or even when you are self-publishing a book, your book must meet industry standards to ensure it sells in the global marketplace. Any reputable publisher, hybrid or traditional, has a selective application process for all manuscripts or sample chapters. There are two paths to editing your manuscript. You can either hire a professional editor (which is recommended if you don’t have experience in professional editing) or do it yourself. In this guide, we are going to be showing how you to approach both methods.  

How to edit your manuscript

  1. After you finish reading your manuscript, put it aside for a few days, and evaluate it with critical and fresh eyes. 
  2. Break up your book in sections to edit that is manageable for you, such as four or five pieces at a time. 
  3. Focus on editing the following elements
    1. Plot- the plot is one of the most important aspects of the story. The plot consists of a story’s events and shapes the entire purpose of the novel. When you are editing your plot, make sure that the plot is engaging, believable, and that the plot twists make sense. 
    2. Characters- there are many different types of characters, some of whom are very complex. Every main character should go through a major transformation that drives the plot forward. When you are evaluating your characters, decide whether or not they have clear strengths, weaknesses, and if the character’s transformation is believable. 
    3. Scenes and chapters- the purpose of editing scenes and chapters is to make them more appealing to your readers. When you are evaluating your scenes and chapters, make sure the opening scene hooks in readers, there are enough scenes, and each scene is oriented in one setting. 
  4. Edit the book for pacing. Your reader should not feel like there are breaks within the action scenes. Depending on your genre, your book will either be slow or fast-paced. Books that fit under the genre of mystery, horror, action/adventure are fast-paced, whereas books that have slower paces are romance, dramas, and autobiographies. If you want to create a fast-paced chapter, it’s recommended to include faster, more frequent paragraphs. However, for slower-paced books, it’s recommended to include shorter, but longer paragraphs, 
  5. Edit the book for grammatical mistakes and passive misuse. When you are looking for typos and grammatical mistakes, ask yourself the following questions: 
    1. Did I misuse a passive voice? 
    2. Are there any grammatical or spelling errors? 
    3. Is the sentence or paragraph clear? 

What is a book editor?

An editor reviews a story and breaks the storyline line by line to review elements such as grammar, accuracy, and content to ensure the manuscript is ready to be submitted to the publisher. 

What is the difference between a book editor and self-editing? 

Book editors have professional experience in ensuring the manuscript is refined enough for a publisher to accept. A book editor is a professional who understands how to shape your story into an appealing novel by analyzing plot structure, content, and grammar. 

What are the different types of book editing services? 

There are various types of book editing services, each done in stages. We created what book editing services authors typically need in chronological order. 

1.Developmental editing: developmental editing involves a manuscript editor providing big picture feedback on your plot, characters, and any other element in your story. 

2.Structural editing: structural editing involves improving a story’s narrative structure, which consists of a story and a plot. Structural editors also determine whether or not you should split your story into fewer chapters and sections

3.Copy editing: copy editing involves examining the book for spelling, capitalization, and grammatical errors.

4.Line editing: line editing is used very synonymously to copy editing, but rather than taking into consideration grammar, punctuation, etc.. a line editor will take into account word usage, POV/tense, and stylistic suggestions. 

5.Proofreading: A proofreader does final reviews over the manuscript to see if there are typos, formatting issues, or missing text. 

What should you consider before hiring a book editor? 

  1. Be open to receiving more support if your manuscript needs heavier work. Even though you reach out to a professional editor for proofreading, your manuscript may need more structural editing. Make sure your editor supplies enough evidence to show that your manuscript needs more work. 
  2. Within the book publishing industry, your writing is most likely going to be subject to changes. While it is important to be flexible, if there is any aspect of your writing you feel is valuable to your storyline, tell the editor about that. 
  3. Hire an editor for about two-five hours to see if they are a good fit. If you like their comments and suggestions, it’s a great way to see if you would both be compatible together. 
  4. Have a clear expectation around cost, but don’t sacrifice cost for quality. Even though you may be able to hire an editor for $20/hour, your entire manuscript may need to be redone. 

How to find a professional editor? 

  1. Reach out to your friends and family members who have published books, and ask for referrals. 
  2. Ask people on Facebook groups if they would recommend any editors.
  3. Scour on sites such as Reedsy and the Editorial Freelancers Association to search for editors based on skills and qualifications.

How do I evaluate a professional editor? 

  1. Check out their website, and see whether or not they would be a good fit for you. To carefully evaluate a book editor, see if there are any typos on the website, their services, policies, and prices. Before you invest in book editors, it’s also important to take into consideration whether you have the funds to afford one. Located below are the book editor rates suggested by the Editorial Freelancers Association. 
    1. Basic copyediting: $25 to $40 per hour Pace: 5 to 10 pages an hour
    2. Heavy copyediting: $35 to $50 per hour Pace: 2 to 5 pages an hour
    3. Substantive editing: $40 to $65 per hour Pace: 1 to 6 pages per hour
    4. (also called line editing)
    5. Developmental editing: $50 to $80 per hour Pace: 2 to 5 pages per hour
  2. Look at their testimonials and referrals, and see if you can reach out to them for more information. If you know any of the referrals, ask them for more insights or sample edits. 
  3. Contact professional editors to learn more about what services they offer under what genre. Located below are examples of a few questions one should ask an editor. 
    1. Do you have preferred genres? 
    2. How do you provide feedback? 
    3. What are your biggest strengths as an editor? 
  4. Ask for a sample edits from your potential list of editors. Once you receive a sample edit, start comparing and contrasting each sample. For example: 
    1. Do the editors provide thorough explanations for their changes? 
    2. Are they actively reflecting their voice? 
    3. Are the editors pointing out issues that are insightful and helpful?