Chris A. Baird | April 18, 2023
How to Hire A Professional Book Editor - Complete Guide

Are you considering hiring a professional book editor to edit your books? Here is a complete guide that you can refer to. 

So, you've finished writing the first manuscript of your book. The first draft is complete. Now, it's time to do editing. But what kind of editing should be done? Different types of editors can do the work, and it can get very confusing. So, you're gonna want to stick around. 

Today, we're going to be discussing how to hire a professional book editor - a complete guide. Let us get right into it. The very first question you're going to need to know, and you're going to be able to answer, is: what is a book editor? 

Well, a book editor is a professional who works with authors and publishers to help prepare manuscripts for publication. So, once you've written your book, it's not a matter of just putting it on the market.

First, it needs to be edited to make sure that it is doing the things it needs to do, and that your readers are going to have the best experience possible when reading through your book. And the thing is, editors can do a wide range of things. 

Well, first of all, there are lots of different types of editing, from developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, and overall manuscript assessment. And finally, a book editor also just provides guidance and feedback to authors on things and ways in which they can improve their writing and storytelling, and may even help with things like how exactly you're self-publishing the book.

They can be very familiar with the order of the steps, and they can serve that purpose even though it's not directly an editing function, but they're sort of in the business, so they're familiar with exactly how to do this.

Here are 4 Things Editors can Bring to your Book

So, here are four things editors can bring to your book because that ultimately is what we're trying to get. It's the question of what are they going to bring.

Polish Style

Well, the first thing they bring is to polish your style. That's the first thing. They help you get a consistent style and make sure that the formatting, and everything is looking great, just polishing it up overall.

They're going to improve the sentence structure and the overall flow of the book. In addition, they're going to help with the overall organization and clarity of your entire book. They're going to make sure that it's very shiny. 

Make it Short and Sweet

The next thing is they're going to make it short and sweet. Now, this is one that I've always had personally a problem with. They're going to look at eliminating unnecessary and redundant content. One of the things you'll find is some of the sentences in your book may be longer than they need to be. 

They may include adverbs that can be eliminated and just try to make it simple so that it will flow a lot better for your reader. They can also suggest ways of improving the messaging that you're doing within your book in a much more efficient and succinct way, that doesn't require you to be so wordy when you're doing your book. 

Finally, on this one, they provide feedback on pacing and overall length to keep the reader engaged and interested. They want to make sure that you're paying attention to what's going on in the book, and the editor is one of the key ways of doing that to make sure that it is flowing.

Analyze the plot holes

The third one is they analyze the plot holes. This is to say that when you're writing, you're going to have inconsistencies and gaps in the writing within the story that you're trying to do, and we're assuming we're talking about fiction about this particular point here. 

They're going to give you feedback regarding whether or not resolving issues like the overall plot holes, gaps that we have in the narrative, and maybe some of the characters in the book also are lacking something. They're going to be able to quickly tell you how exactly you should go about changing this to get the book to flow smoothly.

I can't tell you how many times I've read a fiction book, and the characters are sort of choppy and inconsistent with each other. So this is something you're not going to want to screw up when it comes to your book.

Mood And Tone of Your Book

The fourth point here is the mood and tone of your book. They're going to give you feedback on the overall mood and tone, and most particularly, they want to make sure that it is consistent and effective. It's important to accomplish pushing what it's trying to do, so you're going to make sure that you have the right mood based on the type of book. 

Different books and different genres will have different moods, and they're going to help you identify any sections of the book where the mood and tone may be creating some problems, like unintentional jarring or inconsistency with the rest of the book.

Why do you need to hire a book editor?

Why do you need to hire a book editor? Well, there are three big reasons. The first one is objectivity. A book editor is going to be able to provide objective feedback on your book, unlike asking your friends and family to read your book and tell you what they think. 

They're going to give you honest feedback. Your friends and family are just trying to be supportive of everything you're doing with your book, so of course, they're going to tell you the book is great and you don't need to change anything. 

But these editors that you hire are hired specifically to tell you things to change, so they're not going to hold anything back. They're going, to be honest with you, and hopefully, they don't have to be too brutal with you, but at least they're going, to be honest.

The next thing is professionalism. It's going to give your book that professional feel that you're going to want. As your readers are reading it, it's not going to feel like some choppy, self-published book that maybe you're just putting your first draft on Amazon. This is something we're trying to avoid, and so it's going to give it that professional feel.

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Finally, time-saving. If you're going to be doing everything yourself, from the writing of the book to editing yourself to also all of the formattings that you're going to need for your book, it's going to take a lot of time. 

Hiring a book editor is going to save you a lot of time. It's going to take a lot of the load off of you and make sure that the book is polished and ready to be published. You're going to burn out, and some of these skills are not as good as others for you. 

Writing, perhaps, maybe one of the skills that you're best at. So, let's focus on letting you do those things, and then we have somebody else take care of the editing side. It's going to save you a lot of time and probably increase the quality, and keep your motivation high as well as you're moving forward.

What is the best time to start reviewing editors for hire?

So, what is the best time to start reviewing editors for hire? Now, the absolute minimum is you should be complete with your first draft. I would not ever recommend hiring an editor before we've gotten through the very first draft. 

They're going to give you a clear idea of what the book is about, so when they read it, it's not like they're reading little bits and pieces of the book that can have the whole idea. The other thing is when you need objective feedback, you're struggling to see the weaknesses in the writing itself. 

You're looking for somebody who can objectively tell you which changes you should make to your book that will drastically improve the style. And also, you should do it before submitting your work if you're going to submit it to a major traditional publisher. You're going to want to have this editing already done. 

Now, I know it sounds a little bit crazy because the traditional publisher is going to also go through multiple rounds of editing by different types of editors. But you still should do this and not blow off this part. 

Because you're going to drastically reduce the chances of your book getting selected if you fail to already do editing before applying for that traditional publishing deal that you would like to get. It's just going to give it the best look and feel that you wouldn't personally be able to accomplish without the help of these editors.

Is it better to hire freelancers or book editing agencies to edit your book?

Is it better to hire freelancers or book editing agencies to edit your book now? This one is a little bit of a preference for a lot of people. Now, freelancers are a lot more affordable than agencies and they can offer more personalized service and attention to detail, but they may be more and they're more flexible with scheduling. 

There are some downsides too - one is they only provide usually one skill and many of them lie about what they're good at. Maybe they've edited a few books, another an editor. This is a bit of a challenge. That's why you want to make sure there are a lot of reviews when you're finding one of these on Fiverr or Upwork.

The other alternative is book editing agencies. They're going to provide a team of editors with all of the different types of editors and specialties and perspectives that they're going to bring to bear when they're editing your book. 

To make sure that it is even higher quality than these freelance editors are capable of achieving, they're going to offer a wide range of services such as marketing and publishing support. So, it's a well-rounded sort of service that they're offering. 

Providing these agencies, they may have more established reputations and relationships in the industry, meaning they're going to be able to help maybe get your book to those traditional publishers because they already know who they are. So that's another key issue.

How to Hire a Professional Book Editor in Three Steps

But how to hire a professional book editor in three steps?

1. Pick an Editor for your Book

The first step is you need to pick an editor for your book. You're going to determine your needs based on the book, the starting point of your book. Your book editor is going to determine what specific services you're going to need. All of this is going to impact which editor you choose for your book. 

The second step is you should research potential editors. So once you've got a really good idea of what you are looking for in terms of editors, well at this point, we're going to look for ones that are specializing in our specific genre, which is important because if the person's only doing non-fiction books, how are they going to tell you about story development things like that, so that makes a bit of a problem.

The final one there is you want to evaluate editors and make the choice after you've given them some sort of a sample that they can edit. You'll take a look and see if you're happy with the work they're doing. You're going to be working with them for a while, so you might as well get in the habit now.

2. Reach Out in The Mail or Via Job Ads on Book Editing Sites

The second step is reaching out in the mail or via job ads or book editing sites. So, you draft a professional email or job application and let the potential editors know that you are interested in hiring them. You should get more details to see if they have time and maybe they've already worked on a few projects.

Check out this related article: How To Self-Publish Without Traditional Publishers

It's important to see their past editing work because it will help you determine which editors are a good fit for you. You should also research book editing sites, which provide services that can help improve the sales of your book. It can be easier to work with one of these sites because they can choose the best editors for your specific genre and experience.

The next step is to follow up and evaluate the responses you receive. You will need to decide which editor works best for you based on their response. 

3. Analyse their skills by giving a Test Draft

The third step is to analyze their skills by giving them a test draft. This is important because you will need to see if they can keep the tone of your book in place. You should evaluate the editor's feedback to make sure they did a good job. 

Finally, you will need to decide whether or not to work with that editor or to find someone else. These are the decisions you will need to make when choosing to find an editor. One reason why some people prefer vanity publishing houses is that they provide all of these services in-house, which can help alleviate decision fatigue. 

However, if you find yourself overwhelmed, it may be helpful to seek assistance from a professional. That's one of the reasons why sometimes people like to go with vanity publishing houses because they actually provide all of this stuff in-house, so you don't have to make so many decisions. 

But if you find yourself getting burnt out from making decisions, then I would suggest contacting me, because I can tell you how to do this a lot easier. The fact is that so many people are positive in the beginning, and then when you start the process, you realize that it can be a little bit of work to try to bring all these people together.

How much do editing services cost?

So, how much do editing services or services cost? The first is editing services, which can vary quite a bit when it comes to price because it also depends on what kind of editing they're doing. Basic copy editing costs between one to five cents per word, whereas if you're going into in-depth and developmental editing, it can cost six cents to 25 cents per word. 

Some may give you a per-hour rate charge, which can vary between $25 an hour to $100 an hour based on the expertise and experience that these individual editors have had over the years. So, one thing, and this is maybe one of the most common questions I get, is what are the different types of editors?

Book editing service definitions

So, here are the book editing service definitions.

1. Editorial Assessment

Number one: Editorial Assessment. An editorial assessment is a type of book editing service that provides an in-depth analysis of a manuscript's strengths and weaknesses. So, this is a high-level view of your specific one.

This type of editing typically involves a comprehensive review of the manuscript's plot, characters, and overall structure. It can help authors identify areas for improvement in their writing and provide guidance on how to revise and polish their manuscripts to make them the best possible version.

2. Developmental Editing

The second type is Development Editing. Developmental editing is a type of book editing that goes to the next layer down and focuses on the overall structural content of the manuscript to improve the storytelling and enhance the reader's overall experience.

It can involve reorganizing and restructuring the manuscript, which is one of the reasons why I said you should have your manuscript fully ready when you're moving on to these phases here. 

The development editor can work closely with the author throughout the entire process, helping them clarify their vision. This is maybe one of the more important ones, especially in the area of fiction.

3. Copy Editing

The third type is Copy Editing. Copy editing is a type of book editing service that focuses on improving grammar, syntax, and spelling. This is often what people think about when they think about editing a book, like grammar checking, and such. Copy editing is for you.

4. Proofreading

The final and lowest level brings us to Proofreading. The interesting thing about proofreading is that it's often the final step in the editing process, and it's a final check for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

We're getting that we're just dealing with at the top level where we're proofreading, a type of book editing service that focuses on identifying and correcting errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting in the manuscript. 

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So it's a down-in-the-weeds portion, and it's perhaps not even the most important, but people complain if you have grammar mistakes in your books. You're going to want to be careful not to make those mistakes when you're putting your book on the market.


As you can see, there are a lot of different types of editing. That's one thing that, in conclusion, you're going to want to consider the different available options and figure out what is right for you. The answer is it could be multiple types of editing.

I can say you should not get stuck in the editing phase. I have had clients and prospects in the past who spent years just editing after editing, and to tell you the truth, you should stop doing this game. Choose which type of editing works for you, hire somebody to do it, and once they've completed it, let's get this book published.

Okay, let's not go through 20 more rounds of editing because that can create a huge problem. I have a question for you today. What form of editing have you done on your books? Let me know, please, below in the comments, and check out my other blogs for more answers to your self-publishing questions. 

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