A straightforward look for
spelling and grammar mistakes.
Bespoke or ‘other’
Mentoring comes under this
category; you may meet with an
editor a number of times as they
help you on your writing journey,
either in person or by phone. If
English isn’t your first language,
you may want an editor to turn
your text into something that
sounds more natural. You might
have specific concerns about your
writing (structure, plot, character)
and an editor can help you with a
If you’re happy with how your
text is and you don’t want to
change anything about it, then
copy editing or proof-reading is
the service you’re looking for. If
you’re looking for advice on your
writing, or you plan to change
your text substantially, don’t shell
out for a line-by-line edit at this
stage, as it’s rather like icing a
cake that you’re going to have to
Editors will not rewrite your work.
Each author’s style is unique and a
good editor is merely bringing
that style out.
When considering which editorial
services you’re after, think about
how much advice you are willing
to accept. Your book is your baby
and sometimes it can feel like
you’ve paid a stranger to point
out how ugly it is! Remember that
a professional editor has no
agenda other than helping you.
They’re not a friend or relative
who wants to flatter you – or slap
you down. It’s not comfortable to
have your flaws pointed out, but
it’s like medicine – it’s for your
Unlike medicine, though, you can
choose to take on board as much
or as little of what your editor is
suggesting. You are the author
and their suggestions are just that.
Think about why they are making
those suggestions, though.
If they think the main character is
weak and suggest a way of
building him up, you don’t have to
change the text in that way – but
the information you need to take
forward is that they have found
that character weak, and it’s up to
you to change that if you want
your book to be the best it can be.
WHO DO YOU TAKE ON AS
It really is a case of finding
someone you’re comfortable with.
They should state their credentials,
what their experience is, how they
work and what they charge.
Make sure you know what service
they are offering and that there
aren’t hidden charges.
Editors can be expensive, but there are ways of reducing the cost. Above all, work out what service you want. If you’re not sure if your work is ready for acopy edit or proof-read, considerasking an editor to look at the first three chapters and a synopsis.
They should be able to give you a
good idea of where you’re at and
it won’t be as expensive as them
looking at the whole manuscript.
Charges are almost always based
on word count (not page count, as
the number of words on a page
can vary enormously!) so if you’re
planning on cutting out a third of
your text, do that before you send
your work in to be edited – you’ll
save yourself a third of the cost.
If you know you write in sloppy
manner but intend to check
spelling and so on later, do it
before you send your work in to
be edited. Sometimes authors tell
me, ‘I know how to use an
apostrophe! I just hadn’t changed
that in my text yet.’ I won’t know
whether you know and haven’t
bothered changing it, or whether
it’s something you don’t know
(many authors don’t).