Choosing Your Editor

Next to actually writing your book, editing is the most important step in the process of bringing your book into the world. And it’s important that you think of it as part of the writing, rather than publishing, process. Editing isn’t just polishing up your manuscript to make it fit for public consumption––it’s making your book what it’s supposed to be. So the process of choosing the editor to help you with this process can be difficult, and even a bit painful if you don’t know what to expect.


Evaluate your needs

First of all, take a good hard look at your manuscript and ask yourself what level of editing it needs. If this is an early draft, or if it’s never been looked at with a critical eye, it probably needs a serious developmental edit. Keep in mind that you’re not just hiring an academic eye to point out your mistakes. You’re enlisting the professional opinion of someone familiar with the market, someone who knows what sells and what doesn’t, what’s original and fresh and compelling and what’s tired or boring.


Be realistic about cost and timeframe

Your editor will be giving each page of your manuscript their full attention. This is a serious investment of their time, and since they have probably spent years honing their skills, and a good chunk of money on the education and training behind them, their time is pretty valuable. (And even if you think their time is only worth as much as that of a McDonald’s employee, it would still take a significant number of hours, a few hundred dollars’ worth, for them to go through your book.) Think about what ensuring the quality of your book is worth to you, and be prepared to spend it. Also be aware that editors can be booked weeks or even months in advance, so plan accordingly. Good editing is worth the time it takes.


Look for expertise

Some editors prefer to work in specific genres, and may apply the conventions of those genres to your book. If your book is a cowboy romance, a literary editor might be pretty tough on it. If your book is a sci-fi thriller, an academic-paper copyeditor might take issue with your capitalization of made-up technologies. Look for an editor who has experience in your area of interest, and they’ll be an effective stand-in for your targeted audience.


Practice receiving criticism

If your friends or fellow writing group members tell you that your book is great and they wouldn’t change a thing, they’re probably not good editors. No book is perfect, and though every reader will see it differently, there’s always room for improvement. Open yourself up to serious, honest feedback—while it may not be what you want to hear, you can always learn something from it.


Take your editor for a test drive

Sometimes talking to your editor is enough to establish that click, but you may want to see if they will do a sample edit of a few pages before committing. This will show you what they tend to focus on, whether they’re familiar with your genre, and whether you feel they missed anything.


Above all, keep in mind that there’s always something to learn from an edit. Your writing should improve with every round.

Interested in learning about how BookFuel can help you edit your next book? Contact us at to find out! 


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