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How to Find a Book Editor Who is Perfect for Your Next Book

POSTED ON Jul 25, 2023

Patrick Herbert

Written by Patrick Herbert

Home > Blog > Editorial, Publishing > How to Find a Book Editor Who is Perfect for Your Next Book

So, you’ve finally completed the first draft of your book. That’s a huge achievement worthy of celebration. But does it mean your book is ready for publishing? Not quite. At least not if you want your writing to shine. 

There is a VERY good chance that your book needs editing – which means you need to know how to find a book editor.


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Learning how to find a book editor can be overwhelming. After all – there are many types of editors out there, and not all of them will suit your style (or your budget). And where do you even start?

In this blog, we will discuss why editors are important, the different types of editing that exist, how much they will cost you, and how to find a book editor who is the right fit for your story.


Do I need a book editor? 

The truth is, no matter how well you write, you eventually become blind to your own writing. You can easily miss flaws (whether they be small or significant) that are obvious to somebody else. Hiring a skilled editor is an investment worth making if you want your book to ooze professionalism from the first page to the last. 

At a traditional publishing house, a book will go through many rounds of edits before going to print. But if you choose to self-publish, you won’t have the benefit of working with a company that has your best interest at heart. (Even more reason to find a good editor before putting your book out there.) 

Not only can an editor discover flaws and enhance your writing, they can also guide you through what works or doesn’t work in a particular industry/genre. That kind of guidance is valuable if it’s your first-time self-publishing a book. Basically, they help you avoid making rookie mistakes before your book is published.

Beta readers are great if you want to get some general feedback from a “normal reader,” but they are not the same as a professional editor. You can’t expect the same results from a friend or family member as you could get from an editing service. An editor is impartial, objective, and has the knowledge necessary to truly improve and polish your work. 

The bottom line: You’re more likely to have high sales with a professionally edited product. And that’s why you should invest in an editor if nothing else. 

So, if you agree that an editor is a good idea, that brings us to the point of this blog: How to find a book editor who is the right fit for your work.

How to find a book editor 

While it might feel overwhelming at first, learning how to find a book editor isn't as difficult as you might think. You have to ask yourself some important questions.

  • What kind of editor do you need?
  • What is your budget?
  • What type of personality do you work best with?

Let's examine each of those in detail so you can determine how to find a book editor that truly suits your needs.

Book Editor

1. Choose what type of editor you need

While “general book editors” exist, there are also many types of editors out there. The first step in how to find a book editor is determining what type of editor will work best for you. Here are some of the main types of book editors to consider:

Developmental editor

This type of editor focuses on the big picture rather than fine details. Their job includes reading through the entire manuscript and letting you know what works and what doesn’t. Developmental editing is useful in the writing process for both fiction and non-fiction writers, helping you find issues in your writing’s overall structure.  

After submitting your work to a developmental editor, they’ll review and write what is known as an “editorial letter.” This is a summary of the flaws they’ve found in your book. This editor should come in before working on the details – since this may lead to a few rewrites. At this point, it’s about hitting the mark with the story and finding the right direction.

Structural editor

A structural editor focuses on the narrative structure, helping you find one that suits the type of story you’re telling. Good storytelling means presenting the plot in a way that keeps the interest of readers piqued – but doesn't give too much away. 

Structural editors will take a critical look at your introduction, rising action, climax, resolution, etc. They may also consider the length of chapters and the timeline of your narrative (whether it’s linear or non-linear, i.e., has flashbacks) and suggest changes accordingly. 

Related: How to Write a Novel

Line editor

Line editing involves analyzing each sentence of your book line by line. A line editor considers word choice, syntax, and flow to ensure that sentences are as sharp as possible. They can help you find words that are more precise or poignant. Or perhaps tell you when a sentence needs tightening to create a better flow.

Copyeditor 

Copyediting can often be confused with line editing since they go hand in hand. However, line editing is slightly more in-depth and analytical. While a line editor looks at the style, a copyeditor focuses on general spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You can think of it a bit like proofreading.

A copyeditor fixes mechanical errors to polish your writing, ensuring your language follows the rules and sticks to the house style guide. Because it doesn't encompass overall story arches or writing styles, copyediting is usually the least expensive form of book editing. 

Which brings us to the next important question when determining how to find a book editor for your work: What budget are you working with?

Book Editor

2. Decide on your budget

In order to decide your next step in how to find a book editor, you have to determine your budget. The cost of book editors will come down to a number of factors including:

  • The length of your book 
  • The complexity of your industry and level of technical knowledge required to edit your work 
  • Your timeframe – how quickly you want your book published
  • Your flexibility regarding schedule and timeframe
  • Your experience as a writer, i.e., how much editing is needed? 
  • Your editor’s experience (the more experienced, the higher they can charge)
  • The type of editor you want (developmental editing is more expensive on the whole, while copyediting is cheaper)

In most cases, editors will charge per word or page. Some may choose to charge per hour, but it’s rare. With the industry standard of 250 words per page (and the assumption of your book being only 100 pages long), here are some price ranges you can expect. These figures are based on a survey by the Editorial Freelancers Association.

  • Copyediting, fiction $500 to $725
  • Copyediting, nonfiction $750 to $975
  • Copyediting, business/sales $1,000 to $1,225
  • Developmental editing, fiction $750 to $975
  • Developmental editing, nonfiction $1,000 to $1,225
  • Developmental editing, business/sales $1,750 to $1,975

As you can see, hiring an editor isn’t cheap. But it’s money well spent if you’re serious about writing your book well. In saying that, there are a few things you can do to keep the costs down.

Tips for how to reduce editing costs

  • Use free tools. AI editor/writing tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid can help correct your spelling and grammar. You can use both of them for free in trials. However, the paid versions are very affordable and can save you money in the long run.
  • Proofread yourself. When you’re finished, take a break from your manuscript. Then proofread it yourself, paying close attention to details. You’re looking for obvious flaws and spelling/grammar mistakes.
  • Plan before you write. By having a synopsis and plan in place, you can save your editor lots of time (and yourself lots of money).

Related:

3. Reach out to potential editors

Once you have an idea of what type of editor you want, and how much you have to pay them, it's time to start the most important step of how to find a book editor: Actually reaching out to one.

In fact, we recommend reaching out to more than one and asking questions to determine which editor will be the best fit for your book.

You can ask about:

  • What services they provide
  • Their fees
  • Their availability
  • What genres/writing styles they have the most experience in
  • If they have a portfolio of previous work you can see
  • If they have references they can provide

The last is more important than you might think. You want to know what other writers thought of working with your potential book editor. Do they provide harsh or constructive feedback? What is their communication style like? Was working with them eye-opening and helpful, or did it feel like pulling teeth?

Of course, you can know all the right questions to ask a potential editor and still not know how to find a book editor. We recommend trying a variety of avenues. These include:

  • Asking other writers for recommendations of book editors
  • Joining Facebook groups with writers or book editors to network
  • Searching freelance job boards like Upwork or Fiverr
  • Pay to join a community like Freelance Writer's Den
  • Reach out to the team at SelfPublishing.com!

Related: How to Become an Editor for Books

Need a little extra direction?

Editing is only one step of the self-publishing process. If you are confused about how to find a book editor and publisher, we have you covered. In fact, learning how to find a book editor and publisher is easy at SelfPublishing, because we offer all the services you need to publish your book – in one convenient place.

For general information on how to find a book editor and publisher, you can refer to our free self-publishing guide below. And, you can reach out to our helpful team to ask about our current and upcoming book editing services.


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