Choosing a book editor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as an author.
Whether you’re hoping to get published through a traditional publisher or are ready to enter into the world of self-publishing, you need a professional editor to shape up your manuscript and get it ready for the spotlight. And if you belong to the first group—those looking to get signed by a traditional book publisher—don’t skip this step.
You may wonder, “Won’t the publisher have a book editor to take care of the editing if I score a book deal?” And yes, you will likely work with an editor after you’ve signed up with a publisher, but you need to get there first. Publishers receive many manuscripts every month; unfortunately, many are unpolished. The potential may be present, but publishers don’t have the time or inclination to nurture a great idea.
If you want to impress an editor from a traditional publishing house, submit a manuscript that’s already undergone stringent editing. It’s the best way to catch the attention of a publisher. Any professional editor can tell if you’ve done extensive work on a book or if it’s still in its beginning stages.
If you’re self-publishing your book, you have an equal set of reasons to work with a book editor. While you may not be marketing your manuscript to a traditional publisher, you will be to the general public. A literary partner will help you prepare your book for the spotlight. Your book editor will partner with you to ensure your book is in the best shape possible.
Let’s explore the extended benefits of working with a book editor and how to choose the right one for you.
The Benefits of Working with a Book Editor
What will you gain by hiring a professional book editor? Here are a few ways you’ll benefit:
Improved Writing Quality and Clarity
Good writing is invisible. Your words should melt into the readers’ thoughts. That only happens if your manuscript is clear. By working with an editor, you will refine your writing and find the perfect prose to convey your big ideas.
Improved Sentence Structure
The length and structure of your sentences will impact how someone reads your story. That’s because sentence structure affects mood and pacing. But most writers don’t know how to construct the perfect sentences for literary consumption. Perhaps even more frustrating, the ideal sentence structure will vary by genre, intended audience, author style, etc. A professional editor will help you hone your writing into the best sentence structure for your needs.
Improved Organization and Flow of the Book
Sentence structure is on the micro level, but your editor can also help you on the macro level. Your editor will help you see those small details and the big picture. They’ll help you organize your story to keep the reader invested in the characters and their plight instead of being bored to tears due to a misplaced backstory.
Identifying Any Inconsistencies or Errors
An inconsistent character or storyline is one of the worst errors an author can make. Because you’re so close to the story, you may not notice a consistency error in a character’s story. But your readers will. Fortunately, a book editor will, as well. They can identify all the glaring errors your eyes have missed and give tips on correcting them.
A professional editor is a professional reader. You should choose an editor who has experience in your genre. As a result, they will know whether your book is readable. In other words, they’ll know if your intended audience will enjoy reading it. Your editor will help to improve your manuscript’s readability by offering tailored guidance.
Suggestions for Improving the Story Content
Sometimes, the foundational idea is good but gets strangled by poor storytelling. An editor will help you simplify your story, rearrange your characters, and introduce a more potent source of conflict. Remember that a first draft is not the final draft. Your editor will help you fulfill your story's potential and not merely hint at its potential.
Increased Chances of Being Accepted by a Publishing House
If you want a publishing deal, you’ll increase the odds in your favor by submitting a professionally edited manuscript. It’s the best way to stand out from the heap of other manuscripts—most of which won’t have a professional edit.
Peace of Mind That Your Book is the Best it Can Be
You owe it to yourself and your future audience to create the best manuscript possible, and a book editor will help you achieve that goal.
6 Questions to Ask a Book Editor Before Hiring Them
Hiring a book editor is a significant undertaking. Because you’ll invest your hard-earned money into an editing service, it’s essential to do your due diligence when choosing an editor. Here are a few questions to ask when considering a book editor for your manuscript:
1. What is Your Experience in the Book Industry?
For best results, choose an editor with at least a few years of experience in the book industry. You may prefer a book editor or a literary agent.
2. What Services Do You Offer?
Editing services may include manuscript critiques, extensive edits, and copyedits. Figure out the best editing service for you here.
3. Do You Specialize in a Specific Genre?
Each genre has its own standards and expectations. Choose an editor who specializes in your chosen genre(s).
4. What is Your Turnaround Time?
A good editor will provide a timeline of when you can expect their edits.
5. Do You Have Any References?
Choose an experienced editor who, preferably, has experience working with major publishing houses. Bonus points if their edited work has helped the author win awards or critical acclaim. Ask an editor to provide a booklist of their work.
6. Do You Have Any Experience With Self-Publishing?
If your goal is to self-publish, consider working with a book editor who understands the unique challenges you will face and will support you accordingly.
We can help you find a great editor. Get matched with a book editor here.
The Best Practices for Working with a Book Editor
If you’ve never hired a book editor before, you probably have several questions about how everything works. Here’s what you need to know about working with a book editor:
Be Clear With Your Communication Expectations
The editor will likely have communication standards, but you must know what to expect. During the initial meeting with your editor, set clear rules for communication. Discuss how you will communicate with each other and how often.
Ask Questions When You Don’t Understand Something
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you get feedback that confuses you. The editor should be able to expound on any feedback they provide.
Follow the Editor’s Feedback and Advice
If you hire an editor, you trust them to give you solid, professional advice. While you don’t have to incorporate everything that the editor suggests, it’s crucial to go into the process with an open mind and a willingness to change. Consider thoughtfully if their ideas will help your story align with what you want. Read the notes and make changes accordingly if you think they help your story.
Be Prepared for a Bumpy Ride
The editing process isn’t easy. Your natural impulse is to get defensive about your work. Divorce yourself from your work and remember not to take it personally. The editor isn’t attacking you personally. Their job is to help you produce your best work; sometimes, that process can be bumpy.
Your book editor will play a massive role in the ultimate success of your book. While you bring the creativity, your book editor brings the critique. They will have the critical eye and professional insight to help you create the best manuscript possible.
Use the above tips to help you choose the perfect book editor. If you’re looking for an experienced book editor, check out NY Book Editors. We can pair you with a great editor. Click here to receive a quote estimate and get matched with an editor we think will be perfect for you.