Hire A Professional Book Editor (7 Places to Find Yours)

Posted on Mar 21, 2024

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Written by Omer Redden

Home > Blog > Editing > Hire A Professional Book Editor (7 Places to Find Yours)

You need an editor for your book, plain and simple.

You have three options:

  1. Search and find a random editor via job boards on the internet.
  2. Hire someone you know in your circle.
  3. Hire us.

If you’d like to cut to the chase and hire our team to edit your book for you, just book a call with our team by clicking the image below.

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If you’d like to explore all of your options and learn more about editing as a whole, read on.

Where can I find an editor?

Location 1: Freelancers

If you’re looking for a freelance editor, you’re likely going to search Fiverr, Upwork, or ServiceScape. They’ll have thousands of options. You could even look for an individual’s editor website, by name.

  • Pros: usually the most affordable, big sites vet their book editors by reviews so just follow the stars, if you’re on a personal site you can get a feel for the type of person they are based on the quality of their website
  • Cons: takes a ton of time to filter, the person is likely a stranger, never sure what quality you’ll get until you sign up

Location 2: Book Editor Agencies / Editing Businesses

If you’re looking for an editing agency, or for a business that specializes in providing editors, check out sites like Reedsy, Scribendi, or First Editing. These folks have been in business for years and have done thousands of editing projects as collective teams. This method often seems to be the most viable option for most authors looking to outsource their book editing.

  • Pros: been in business for years, usually high quality, have a proven process to follow for best results
  • Cons: usually costs more because you’re paying a business not an individual

Location 3: Editing Societies

These places are similar to an Upwork, but instead of having thousands of freelancers across all domains, they specialize in only editing. Plus, the members of these societies generally have to pay fees to belong and get referrals. Examples include ACES: The Society for Editing, Society for editors and proofreaders (Sfep), or Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).

  • Pros: narrows in on editing, usually high-level quality and professional because they paid to be a part of the group
  • Cons: have to follow the societies’ standards, might be higher priced

Location 4: Peer Review Groups

You could try an online critique group where others volunteer to review your manuscript like Scribophile or Critique Match.

Generally, we recommend using these types of peer review groups more for alpha readers or beta readers, less for the actual editing services. Nearly everyone’s manuscript needs a professional to comb through it.

  • Pros: cost-effective, get feedback from someone who reads in your book’s genre
  • Cons: oftentimes you get what you pay for, most of these groups require you to swap and become an editor for someone else which you may not have time for

Location 5: Referrals

Perhaps you’re friends with a published author and they can point you in the right direction. Of all the places to find an editor, a direct referral might be one of the best. The main thing you need to watch out for is genre specialization. Of course, you’ll still need to vet the person based on price, timelines, etc.

  • Pros: the search just went from thousands of options down to one, the editor won’t be a complete stranger or at least you’ll have some natural rapport already
  • Cons: if it doesn’t work you’re back to square one, might have to adjust your timeline more if they’re backed up

Location 6: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

If you’re looking to skip the humans and go straight to AI, you can do that too. If you go this route, we recommend you be an expert in writing high quality prompts. After all, if you’re going to trust AI with your final manuscript (that will have your name on it), you want to make sure it does an incredible job.

Here’s a resource that can help with AI editing:

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Location 7: Self-Publishing School

Click here to schedule a call with our team and figure out how we can help.

What are the different types of edits?

From broadest to most specific, in order, there are:

We’ve actually written a whole article breaking down the different types of editing in detail.

You can also check out this episode on the Self-Publishing School Podcast.

What all does an editor do?

A book editor can be an individual or a book editing firm whose practice involves refining a piece or pieces of written work.

Most book editors have some level of higher schooling, holding a major in English, creative writing, or journalism. They are required to be objective in their work, ruthless in their attention to detail, and should have some insights into the craftsmanship of a story.

As Stephanie Rische puts it:

“Sometimes an editor’s job is to find the pulse of a manuscript and resuscitate it. Sometimes an editor’s job is to hold the author’s hand and coax her through the final chapter. Sometimes the editor’s job is to recognize a thing of beauty and then get out of the way.”

Stephanie Rische

Some editors are more story-oriented, focusing on plot development, character development, and the like. Some are more like grammar police. They possess a heightened aversion to misspellings and misuse of punctuation.

They’ll get rid of the word “all” in this section’s header and tell you the question should read, “What does an editor do?”

What traits should I look for in an editor?

Editors, like all of us, come with different talents or skill set.

So, the first step to hiring a professional book editor is to be clear on the types of editing you want based on the bulleted list above.

In this stage, avoid using human instinct, so as not to pick an editor who may not meet your book editing demands.

With that information in mind, there are metrics you need to check in this decision-making process:

1. Type of Services

Find what other services the firm or book editor provides. If it is just editing, then you have a lot more services you’ll have to pay for in the future.

If you’re pursuing traditional book publishing or working with their editing firm, they may help publish your book or help market it on your behalf. Such “after-sale” services may relieve you the extra marketing/publishing cost of your book. But, they’ll also keep a portion of royalties and have the rights to your book.

Here at Self-Publishing School, we provide book editing services in our top packages, but we also provide much more. We offer cover design, formatting / typesetting, keyword and category selection, and all kinds of help around marketing and promoting your book. Essentially, we seek to provide all the benefits of traditional publishing, but still allowing you to keep the rights and royalties, which is important for most authors.

2. Expertise

What relevant experience and knowledge do they have with editing? What is their level of education? Do they work with companies or individual? And in what capacity and what sector?  Which books have they edited? How about their reputation, reviews, and portfolio? Ask the editor if they have any training or certification and how long they’ve been editing. These are just a few questions to ask before settling on who will polish your book.

Eventually, once you have found an editor, you can ask knowledgeable editing questions such as:

  • What tools and software they use for editing or tracking changes
  • Knowledge and book editing experience of your particular niche, if it’s hyper niche
  • What value or addition they will bring to your book

Of course, you want an expert if you can afford it.

3. Cost

No need paying a king’s ransom when shopping for a book editor as you have other expenses you’ll incur before publishing. Finding the cost of their service can go a long way in meeting your book’s financial obligations.

Factors like:

  • Genre or your priorities
  • Editor experience level
  • State and length of the manuscript

4. The Level of Editing Your Book Needs

As an author, it is upon you to determine what type of editing your book needs. See the section above on that topic. If you are new to editing or self-publishing, then you already know that your book will deserve more than a proofread.

Be sure you go through a round of self-editing to try to reduce how much the editor will have to do. More on that later.

5. Customer Experiences and Reviews

How quickly are other authors ready to recommend their services? What about customer reviews or references? Are there any compelling you to sign up for their services?

The answers you will get from this decision-making process will affect the whole process of hiring a book editor.

How long will editing take?

It depends! Are you asking how long it will take to find the book editor, get on their schedule, have the edits completed, pay them, and get the manuscript back? Or are you asking just how long it takes to get the edits completed once the project starts? Or if you have multiple rounds of edits, how long does each round take?

Some of this answer depends on you too. It depends how quickly you get back to them with “yes” or “no” on certain recommendations for the manuscript.

As a general rule of thumb, you want to find and secure the editor about two months ahead of when you actually need them. They likely have other projects and you’ll be in a queue, waiting.

Once the project starts, the quickest editing turnaround times are a matter of 2-3 weeks. The average is usually 4-8 weeks. The longest editing projects can last 3-6 months.

We’ve answered this question with a full article on, “How long does editing take?” too, if you want more detail.

How much should I pay for an editor?

Generally speaking, editors cost between $500 to $5000, depending on how many words are in the manuscript, timeline expectations, and level / types of edits required.

Determine your budget, determine what services you’ll need, and how much it costs to publish the book overall.

If your professional editor charges per word, it might be wise to go through a round of self-editing to see how many non-essential paragraphs and words can be cut.

Costs for editing vary greatly. Most editors charge per word or per type of editing. So, a developmental edit generally costs more than proofreading because the level of work and mental brainpower required.

You may have room to negotiate the price, but don’t be too harsh here or the editor might turn you away. Or worse, accept it with a chip on their shoulder and do a lower-quality job.

Ultimately, it’s your call how much you’re willing to pay.

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Is there anything I should do before sending off my manuscript?

I’ve mentioned this a couple times already, but a self-edit is highly recommended–by us, by other authors, and by editors alike.

We all know that the first draft is never the best draft. You need to go back through it and clean up the things you know need attention.

Even if you’re not a professional writer, you can use a tool like Quillbot, ProWritingAid, or Grammarly to get some of the basic self-edits out of the way.

Another thing you may want to do before paying for edits: sending the book to a couple alpha or beta readers.

They may find big plot holes or transitions that need fixing. You want to find those before you pay for editing, so you don’t have to go back and pay for another round.

Once you’ve done a self-edit and got some basic feedback from alphas or betas, you’ll be ready to send it off to the professional book editor that you hired.

Should I give my editor a test assignment?

The short answer is only if necessary.

Situations where it might make sense to ask for a test or sample:

  • You’ve narrowed it down to two or three good options, but you need to see who is a better fit.
  • You’ve chosen a freelance editor who doesn’t appear to have a ton of reviews and is new to the space.
  • You’ve chosen a fairly pricy editor and you want to make sure it won’t be a waste of money.

Many editors are willing to do a sample or test, because they want to assess your abilities too. If you can’t put a cohesive page together or your spelling is worse than a 5-year-old, they may want to pass on your project too.

In most cases, you will find that many editors are willing to edit the first chapter of your book for free.

Usually, a sample or test can be done for a nominal fee, less than $75 USD.

The most important part for both parties at this stage is the “test draft.”

A “test draft” will determine whether the editor is reliable, talented, and skilled, and whether he/she will make your book shine.

For the “test draft,” you’ll agree on the number of words or pages to edit, and the duration it would take for the editor to complete the work. Negotiate also on the pay rate. If it turns out negative for either party, you can pay and move on. If it turns out positive, the fee gets rolled up into the final bill, which is a win-win for both you and the editor.

Working together with your editor

It’s important to clarify your budget, timelines, type of editing needed, and your level of writing experience as a writer, at the outset. But you’ve likely already covered that if you’re at this point in the process.

Now, it’s about the nitty-gritty of how to get the work done together.

You want to have a good working relationship with the editor.

Unfortunately, there is no one exact way of doing this. Each author will have to devise his/her way of maintaining an excellent relationship with an editor.

Clarify your expectations

Some authors want the editor to just make suggestions and the author will decide to accept or decline every suggestion.

Some authors want the editor to make every change they see fit to make and don’t care to review it.

Some authors want somewhere in between.

Clarify this with your editor.

Platform

You also want to make sure you’re on the same page, literally, regarding which platforms you’ll use.

The tools you will use for work and collaboration can include: Google Docs, Slack, Atticus, or Microsoft Word. Such tools make commenting, editing, and communication seamless for both parties.

Your Final Call

Lastly, you’ll want to keep the editor motivated by making their job easy.

Some editors are ruthless and will surely fill your pages with red marks as they go through your book. Do not make their work unbearable by arguing with them. You paid them to make it better, not to make you bitter.

Accept that they are the professional and in many cases, they’ll know best.

Remember though, at the end of the day, this is your manuscript, so you get the final call on how this manuscript turns out.

When the project is finished, you’ll probably have the opportunity to give them a review or testimonial too. Be kind and be honest.

You never know, the relationship may develop into a potentially long-term one as you will need more of your books edited.

Additional resources

To learn more about editing/publishing or how to take your manuscript to a bestseller, check these sources to expand your knowledge base

Conclusion

We’ve covered a ton of ground together. We’ve looked at the seven places you can find a book editor, the different types of editing, how long it takes, how to prepare your manuscript, what to look for in an editor, and more!

If you’ve found this article helpful and think it would be best to work with our team to edit your book, we can do that. Just book a call by clicking the image below.

If not, happy searching!

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Original post written by Derick Okech. Significantly edited and republished by Omer Redden, Managing Editor of Self-Publishing School.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.
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