Choosing the Right Editor for Your Booked Blog

editing, editor, substantive, copy, line, developmental, content, polish, Once you have self-edited your booked blog manuscript, send it to a professional editor for another round of developing and polishing (or two or three). After all, that’s what professional editors are: developers and polishers of manuscripts. They make sure the story or content is fully developed—reader friendly and reader ready—and they polish the prose until it shines so brightly that it serves as a beacon to publishers and to readers.

Do not skip this step or skimp here. Don’t become one of the many self-published authors who fail to have their manuscripts professionally edited and end up with a book that does not meet the same quality standards of traditionally published books. If you do so, it likely won’t sell well because it will stick out like a sore thumb as self-published; this fact will be evident in its lack of professional editing.

This also will prove true if you don’t get your book professionally designed. No one will get past the cover of your book without a professional cover design (or a professional interior design). They will pick it up and then put it down without ever even looking inside at one word you have written. If the cover copy is not well written as well, they will not be enticed to read the interior pages.

Types of Editors and Editing

There are three basic types of editors and editing. I’ve combined my own definitions with those of my colleague Sue Collier of Self Publishing Resources. However, these definitions vary from one editor to another. So ask what you are getting. For instance, when I do developmental editing, I do not do line editing. However, I do some of the things listed here under content editing. A few of the things listed under content editing I do when I line edit.

  • Copy editing or line editors
    • Generally strengthen sentence structure and, therefore, writing. They:
      • Correct faulty spelling, grammar and punctuation.
      • Correct poor usage (such as which for that).
      • Check specific cross-references (for ex., tables and illustrations mentioned in the content).
      • Ensure consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, comma usage, and capitalization.
      • Check for proper sequencing (such as alphabetical order) in lists and other displayed material.
      • Record the first references to figures, tables, and other display elements.
  • Content or substantive editors
    • Do all copy or line editing tasks plus:
      • Alter text and headings to achieve parallel structure.
      • Flag or change inappropriate figures of speech.
      • Ensure key terms are handled consistently.
      • Ensure that previews, summaries and end-of-chapter questions reflect content.
      • Track the continuity of plot, setting and character traits for fiction manuscripts.
      • Create queries for the author about discrepancies.
      • Enforce consistent style/tone in a multi-author manuscript.
      • Change passive voice to active voice, if requested.
      • Flag or change ambiguous or incorrect statements in nonfiction manuscripts.
  •  Developmental editors
    • In addition to all substantive editing tasks, this type of editor:
      • Ensures everything makes sense, flows, has been included and is in the correct place.
      • Eliminates wordiness, redundancies, triteness and inappropriate jargon.
      • Smoothes transitions and moves sentences or paragraphs to improve readability.
      • Assigns new levels to subheads to achieve logical structure.
      • Suggests—and sometimes implements—additions and deletions.
      • Rewrites, where needed.

Some editors like to edit in phases. Phase I is called the manuscript analysis. They read the whole manuscript and make notes in the margins about what needs to be improved. This is a sketchy developmental edit of sorts. They give the author, first, a general idea of what has to be done to improve the book, and, second, specific recommendations on a chapter-by-chapter basis. This document becomes the blueprint for the work done on the manuscript from that point forward. A writer who wants to learn and improve their own writing will take this document and create a new and improved draft of the manuscript by incorporating the suggestions prior to having the manuscript edited.

Phase II serves as the first round of editing. Typically, this involves developmental editing or a combination of substantive and developmental editing. If a writer chooses to skip the developmental phase of editing, in this phase the editor would a line or copy edit or a full developmental edit as described above, including all areas of editing at once; this is much harder to do from an editor’s standpoint.

Phase III comes into play if the client has chosen a developmental or substantive edit in Phase II. Now a line edit is completed.

That said, Phase II and Phase III involve some back and forth, and if a manuscript has need of major revisions or work, each of these phases could involve several rounds of going from editor to client and back again. It is not unusual for a manuscript to go from editor to client, back to the editor after the client makes additional changes and revisions, back to the client again for more changes and revisions, and then back to the editor again before that phase has been completed.

When the editing is done, it’s time to find a proofreader. Proofreaders provide a different skill than editors. They catch minor errors made during editing—a word not caught by the spell-checker, a second period left unnoticed amongst the changes made, too many spaces between words, possibly even a stray comma that doesn’t fit the style used throughout the book. You may also need an indexer if you have written a nonfiction book.

Choosing an Editor

You do not need to live close to your editor. Most editors work by email, phone or by Skype. The key is to find someone with whom you can work well. How do you do this? Find an editor that suits your style.

editor, content, copy, line, developmental, substantive, editingAsk yourself what type of person you are? Do you need to be handled gently…coddled? Do you need positive feedback about your work first or all the time? I usually put it this way: Do you want an editor that keeps the gloves on?

Or do you want an editor that takes the gloves off? Can you handle criticism? Do you want to be told what’s wrong so it can be fixed? Can you take the bad news first? Do you tend to say, “Tell it to me like it is?”

Then find an editor who does the type of editing that you need. First look for an editor in your genre. If you are writing fiction, you need a fiction editor. If you write nonfiction, you need a nonfiction editor. If you write memoir or mystery or fantasy, it’s great to find an editor who specializes in that area.

You’ll also want to check out an editor’s track record. Look for testimonials from past clients. And if possible, test them out. For example, I am usually at the San Francisco Writers Conference working as a book doctor. These are free short consultations. I also offer a short test edit on people’s work when I give an estimate of how long it will take to edit a job. This gives you an idea of my style and how I would edit your work. Other editors should give you the same type of courtesy.

And do get an estimate. Editors charge by the word, by the page and by the hour. I charge by the hour, and that seems most common for the professional editors I know. This can range from $25-$200+ per hour, and you do, as with all things, get what you pay for in most cases. You can estimate the cost of your manuscript editing by figuring out how many pages you have (most pages doubled spaced in Times Roman 12 pt. have between 250-300 words per page) and then assuming most editors will edit between 3-10 pages per hour depending upon the type of editing they are doing and the cleanliness or strength of your writing.

To find good editors, ask fellow writers for recommendations, attend a conference where they have “book doctors,” or contact the Editorial Freelancers Association.

Next time we’ll discuss your publishing options for your booked blog.

Do you want your blogged book or booked blog manuscript
to shine like a beacon to readers and publishers?

Book editors are manuscript developers and polishers.

Call today to find the perfect editor for your


  1. says

    Nina, I found your post about editors’ work very informative. However, one of the duties of a developmental editor has me stumped. What is meant by “assigns new levels to heads to achieve logical structure?”

  2. Nina says

    That refers to subheads. If the subheads don’t make sense, the editor would reorganize them. I guess I could put in subheads. Thanks for that! Glad you liked the post.

    Hey…if you like my blog, would you be willing to nominate it in this contest? I’d really appreciate it.

    And thanks for reading and commenting. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns…or suggestions for topics.

  3. says

    Nina, thank you for your explanation regarding subheads in a manuscript. For the Write to Done and A-List Blogging sites’ Top 10 Blogs for Bloggers Award 2012, I have already nominated Susan Gunelius who has a weekly blog post at ( Blogging Guide). As you know, the rules state that we can make only one nomination.

  4. Nina says

    Yes, I know that. Thanks for reading my blog, though, and commenting. I really appreciate that.


  1. […] Choosing the Right Editor for Your Booked Blog (How to Blog a Book) — “Once you have self-edited your booked blog manuscript, send it to a professional editor for another round of developing and polishing (or two or three). After all, that’s what professional editors are: developers and polishers of manuscripts.” […]

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