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What to Expect When Working with a Book Editor

Explore everything you need to know about this book editing and publishing.

By Amelia GoldstienPublished 2 months ago 4 min read

If you've poured your heart and soul into writing a book, that's an amazing achievement! But before you rush to hit "publish," remember this: editing is as important as the writing itself. A professional editor will take your work to the next level – think of them as the magnifying glass revealing hidden potential and the polish that makes your story shine.

Don't stress if you're new to all of this or feel a little lost. Think of it as a journey and you've found an experienced guide! Working with a book editor might seem a bit mysterious, but that's where I come in. In this blog, we'll take you through everything you need to know about this essential part of the book publishing process.

Section 1 - Initial Contact and Project Discussion : Finding an Editor

So, you've made the wise decision to hire an editor. But where do you start your search for this magical wordsmith? Here are several tried and true paths:

Online Directories: Search platforms like Reedsy, Editorial Freelancers Association, or your local writers' guild often have fantastic directories of professional editors. These let you filter by specialization and browse editor profiles.

Referrals: Tap into your network! Talk to other authors about who they've worked with successfully. Word-of-mouth recommendations carry a lot of weight.

Writing Conferences: These are great places to network and meet potential editors in person. You can get a sense of their personality and approach before taking the next step.

The Importance of Fit

Nall editors are created equal. You want someone who 'gets' your book's genre, understands your unique writing style, and complements your work. Imagine you've written a gritty sci-fi thriller, but the editor you contact mainly works on cozy mysteries - probably not the best match! Finding that right fit takes a bit of research upfront, but it's worth the effort.

Project Assessment

Your first chat with a potential editor is often like a consultation. They'll want to know all about your book. Here's what to be prepared for:

A Brief Synopsis: What's your book about in a nutshell?

Word Count: An estimate is fine at this stage.

Type of Editing: What stage is your manuscript at, and what level of editing do you think it needs (more on that later)?

Desired Timeline: Do you have any particular deadlines in mind?

Contracts and Pricing

Once you've found an editor you click with, it's time for the practical stuff. A good editor will always use a contract. This keeps everything clear for both of you. It'll typically cover:

Scope of Work: What type of Book editing services are they providing? This ensures your expectations are aligned.

Fees: How do they charge (hourly, flat fee, per word)? Understanding this from the get-go avoids surprises.

Deadlines: Both your target completion date and when you can expect to receive revised drafts back along the way.

Section 2 - The Editing Stages : Varying Processes

It's worth noting that every editor has their own way of working. But, in general, there are several distinct stages within the editing process:

Developmental Editing: This is where your editor works like a master builder, focusing on the foundation of your story. They're looking at plot structure, character development, pacing, and whether everything comes together cohesively.

Line Editing: Here, it's all about your writing at the sentence level. Your editor pays attention to style, word choice, clarity, and the overall flow of your prose.

Copyediting: Time to zoom in and banish those pesky grammar errors, typos, and formatting inconsistencies.

Proofreading: A final meticulous sweep before publishing to make absolutely sure you haven't missed any tiny errors that crept in.

Developmental Editing Feedback

Depending on the level of editing needed, your developmental editor might provide feedback in a couple of ways:

Editorial Letter: This is a broader assessment of your manuscript outlining strengths, weaknesses, and areas for potential improvement. It's like a roadmap for your revisions.

In-line Comments: They might go directly into your manuscript (using track changes in Word). This could include suggested edits, clarifying questions, or notes on sections that could be refined.

Let's get more in-depth in the next part of this blog! In the upcoming section, we'll dive into the communication side of working with an editor and address common questions.

Section 4 - Beyond the Final Edit : Final Manuscript Responsibility

Editing brings out the absolute best in your book, but here's a key point: you, the author, are still the captain of this ship. While an editor might suggest changes or point out areas of concern, the final decisions about the book always rest with you. They're like the co-pilot who helps you navigate, but you ultimately control the destination.

Further Support

The partnership with your editor doesn't have to end once your manuscript is sparkling clean. Many editors offer additional help with crafting:

Query Letters: Think of these as tiny billboards for your book when seeking an agent or approaching publishers. Your editor can work their magic on your query, ensuring it's engaging and compelling.

Synopses: Summarizing your entire book into a page or two? Daunting! Editors are pros at distilling and helping you showcase your work's key plot points and themes in a succinct synopsis.

Possibility of Future Collaboration

If you've clicked with your editor and appreciate their work, consider them for future books! Working with an editor you already trust can save time and lead to a smoother process from the very beginning.


Think of the writer-editor relationship as a two-person rowing team striving for the finish line – a compelling and beautifully polished book. Understanding the editing process empowers you, the author, to truly collaborate with your editor. When you both know what to expect, communication improves, and you're well on your way to that magical finished product that's ready to meet readers.


About the Creator

Amelia Goldstien

Amelia Goldstein is an experienced content writer with over six years of experience in creating compelling and engaging content. She specializes in digital marketing, SEO, and social media and has worked with a variety of industries.

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