Choose the right type of editing to get your book ready for publication.
Once you’ve dotted the last “I” and crossed the last “T” on your manuscript, you may feel the urge to run to the nearest publisher. Not so fast! Once your entire manuscript is complete, it needs a round of robust edits.
If you’ve never been through the process before, the different types of book editing options can be confusing. Should you self-edit? Should you hire an editor? Don’t publishing houses provide their own editors?
If you’re wondering how to take the first step into editing your manuscript, consider these five types of editing and learn which will work best for your particular situation.
Although you’ll eventually need another set of eyes to review your work, every author should know the basics of self-editing. It’s good advice to do a strong editing pass at your manuscript before sending it to a professional editor, literary agent, or publisher.
Self-editing is free, aside from any resources you may need to purchase to learn how to do it. It will teach you to be a better writer, because you’ll examine the material you’ve written in a new and closer way.
How to Learn Self-Editing
First, you’ll need to know the difference between developmental editing and line editing.
- Developmental editing shapes the content and structure of your book. This includes deciding when material needs to be cut or added, evaluating the order of information in your manuscript, keeping the tone consistent throughout chapters, and other big-picture tasks. Developmental editing always happens first.
- Line editing is more granular. You read through the manuscript line by line checking for grammar, word choice, punctuation, and typos.
Knowing these two tiers of editing is just the start. It’s a good idea to read up on self-editing from other writers and editors with experience. You’ll find a wealth of books and blog posts about how to edit your work on the internet.
Keep in mind that editing nonfiction is different from editing fiction. Be sure to find resources that teach self-editing in your genre. That being said, there’s significant overlap in editing strategies between the two genres, so read about both for a well-rounded skillset.
Limitations of Self-Editing
You should edit your manuscript at least once on your own. However, self-editing cannot replace the work of a trained, professional editor.
You’ll eventually need a second set of eyes on your work. You’re too close to the manuscript to have complete objectivity regarding how the material will strike readers. A professional editor can tell you tough truths about what needs to change to make your book the best it can be.
In addition, a professional editor will bring years of writing experience to your project. Unless you’re a professional in the publishing world, it’s doubtful your editorial skill can match that of someone who edits for a living.
2. Grammar/Spell Checkers
AI (Artificial Intelligence) grammar and spell-checking services can assist you with line edits on your manuscript. This may be a good option for authors who need extra help catching small details of grammar and punctuation or who tend to miss typos.
Reviews and comparisons of popular tools abound online. Many offer free trials. The price of use beyond the free trial period varies by service.
Again, this method of editing has its limits. AI cannot replace the experienced eye of a human editor. For one thing, it can’t conduct developmental edits on your manuscript. And it won’t pick up on authorial voice and tone.
If you’re confident in your developmental editing skills and just want to polish your manuscript before sending it to a professional editor, grammar and spellcheck services may be the answer.
3. Literary Agents
Literary agents are professionals in the publishing industry who represent authors to publishing houses. An agent will work with you to polish your manuscript up to publishing standards. This will likely include a solid round of edits on your entire manuscript. Your agent will then shop your book to different publishers, based on their knowledge of each publisher’s needs and preferences.
Literary agents typically charge a commission once they have sold your book to a publishing house. This means you shouldn’t have to spend money up-front for their services. However, agents are quite selective about the manuscripts they accept for representation, and most of them receive dozens of representation requests per week. Your book stands a greater chance of being chosen if it is already well-edited. Unless you’re already a superb self-editor, you’ll need professional editing eyes on your book before you seek agency representation.
4. Freelance Editors
You could also hire a freelancer editor to improve your manuscript. Unlike agents, freelance editors charge a fee for their services and are willing to take on projects that need more work. Consider this option if you plan to pitch directly to publishers without involving an agent, or if you want your book to have that extra “oomph” that might catch an agent’s attention.
Vet your freelance editorial candidates thoroughly.
- They should have a portfolio of previous editing work.
- Ask if they have edited books similar to yours that were later published.
- Check their work history—it’s a plus if they’ve worked for a publication or publishing house.
Freelance editors may charge by the hour or by the wordcount of your manuscript. They will likely charge more for developmental edits than for line edits.
5. The Book Professor®
The Book Professor® program offers editing as part of a streamlined service to help aspiring authors write and publish nonfiction books. Our curriculum walks you through the writing process and pairs you with a professional writing coach for expert editing and direction. You can start your book from scratch or come to the program with manuscript already in hand.
This is a good option if you want to go through only one major round of edits and if you want to work with the same editing and publishing team from start to finish on your project.
Our Group MASTERMIND and Personal Coaching programs help you tackle your editing project at the developmental and line-editing level. You will work under the eye of professional writers and editors. Upon completion of the MASTERMIND program, you will have the opportunity to submit your manuscript for consideration to our sister company, Stonebrook Publishing. All authors who complete the Personal Coaching program automatically qualify for publication at Stonebrook.
The Book Professor® offers the following services:
- Support and curriculum for the writing process
- Professional editing (and guidance on how to become a better self-editor)
- An “in” with our publishing company
- Services connected to publication, such as front cover design, marketing tactics, dust jacket copy, and ISBN procurement
The Book Professor’s fee structure is based on which program you choose and any publication-related services you may need.
Want an all-in-one editing experience?
Contact us to learn more about writing, editing, and publishing. We’ll help you create a high-impact nonfiction book that will establish you as an expert in your field, increase your credibility, and help attract a following.
Consider us your one-stop-shop for writing and editing success!