Editing: The Big Bad Wolf

Working with an editor can be scary.  What if they don’t like it?  What if the editor changes the story?  Will they really understand you and your book?  How expensive is it?  Will you get what you pay for?  What is the difference between proofreading and content editing?   (BTW – these are all good questions to ask your editor directly when getting an estimate.)

As an author, you have a vision. You have a unique story to share.  As a self-publishing author, you have the choice of whether or not to work with a professional editor and who that editor will be.  And I cannot stress the importance of a professional edit!

The editor’s job is to recognize your strengths as an author and help you use those strengths to reach your target audience. This can be anything from fixing grammar to helping develop more content in specific chapters (Outlined in the Levels of Editing below). Some editing, like Content and Developmental editing, requires more than one round of editing and includes a dialogue between the author and editor.

No matter what the editor may suggest to you, it is your manuscript: you decide whether to accept or reject suggested alterations. A good editor will provide you with a 4-5 page sample edit, and some feedback about how and what they believe your manuscript needs along with a quote. At the bare minimum, it is good to at least get a sample edit done before publication so that you know how your manuscript will be perceived by your audiences.

Levels of Editing

1)      Proofread/Verification Edit

  1. What: Spelling, grammar, format/style (MLA, APA,      Chicago, AP)
  2. Where: Line by line
  3. Description: A proofread/verification edit is a basic edit. This service is for an author who is only concerned with their      manuscript being functional for publication. This service is also used as a polish for more thoroughly edited manuscripts.

2)      Copyedit

  1. What: Proofread + syntax, word choice, clarity, consistency, logic
  2. Where: Paragraph-Chapter
  3. Description: Copyediting is a mid-level service that is ideal for authors who are only concerned with syntactic functions.

3)      Substantive/Content Edit

  1. What: Copyedit+ structure, content, voice, audience
  2. Where: Entire Manuscript
  3. Description: In Substantive edits, we delve deeper into the text looking at semantic and pragmatic functions.  This type of editing includes comments and reviews of the text in relation to the overall context.  Substantive editing frequently necessitates 2-3 rounds of editing between the author and editor.

4)      Developmental Edit

  1. What: Substantive edit + content development
  2. Where: Manuscript and beyond
  3. Description: Developmental editing either begins with a known unfinished manuscript or is bred out of a Substantive edit. In a developmental edit, the author and editor work on developing content, rewriting sections and improving the overall structure of the manuscript.  This service requires a minimum of 2 rounds of editing.


The cost will vary depending on level of edit and the editor. Some editors charge per page, per word or per hour.  I have seen edits range from $2-$5/page.  I would suggest a per page estimate because some editors may be slower and take advantage of the per hour estimate.  This way you have more of a handle on the bottom line at the end of the day.


A good editor friend of mine helped to put this blog together.  I have worked with her professionally over the last year and she has proved to be very efficient and a great editor too many of my authors.  If you would like to reach out for an estimate or a sample, please contact Ciara Brewer at arseditio@gmail.com.

Check out my previous blogs on press releases and working with a printer.  If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted.   If you are interested in being a part of the Author Interview Series, please email me at jill@mirabooksmart,com

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.




Filed under Book Layout, Self Publishing Author

2 responses to “Editing: The Big Bad Wolf

  1. Pingback: What do you mean, you’re looking for an editor? | Write on the World

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