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Nov. 4, 2021

"What Kind of Editor Do I Need?"

"What Kind of Editor Do I Need?"

Ep007. Join author and coach, Lanette Pottle, each week to get your self-publishing questions answered. In this week’s episode, she shines a spotlight on what to expect from editors -- the types of work they do, different models they may use when...

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Hey, hey my soon-to-be-published author friend! Welcome to episode 7. The focus of this episode is helping you to determine what kind of editor you need for your book. If you’re like I was a few years back, you may have been thinking an editor is an editor but turns out that’s not exactly accurate.

There are several types of editors -- each serving a specific function and are most helpful at specific time frames in your manuscript process. Today we are going to talk about the three most common -- developmental editors, copy editors, and proofreaders.

Let’s start with developmental editors because if you choose to use one, you’d have them review your manuscript before moving on to other phases of editing.  Developmental editors can be tremendously helpful in helping you build out your outline and stories in a way that connect -- throughout the book but more importantly, with the reader. Developmental editors help you put structure to your project. Think of this style or stage of editing as being in the realm of the BIG PICTURE 

Developmental editors can be used for any writing project but in my experience, they seem to be more commonly used in works of fiction than non-fiction. 

Next is the copy editor sometimes known as the line editor. It’s the person who is reviewing your manuscript line by line. This encompasses all grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  Other things copy editors are looking for are flagging distracting redundancies, smoothing out awkward sentences, and creating consistency within your style. If something plainly doesn’t make sense, your copy editor is going to let you know that, too. 

Once copy editing is complete, proofreading is the final editing run-through. While there is some level of proofreading done in the copy-editing stage it’s not as thorough as this. Plus, you are doing this after you’ve completed all your rewrites. Yes, you will have rewrites to do after copy editing -- no matter how phenomenal of a writer you are. Proofreading gets into the nitty-gritty that puts the final sparkle and shine on the work you’ve poured your heart and soul into. 


Part two of the question I usually get when people ask me  “What kind of editor do I need” -- is how much should I expect to pay? The answer is it varies widely -- some factors that play into this are based on the editor's experience, the quality of your writing, and your market area. 

Some editors charge a per-word fee. For instance, if you have a 50,000-word manuscript and you are quoted a rate of 6 cents per word you’d be looking at $3000. In this example, the thing you would want to be sure you were clear on is what this includes. Is that for one or two rounds of edits? 

Some charge by the page. For purposes of cost estimating, the general measure for a page is 250 words. This is important to know because based on the trim & style of your book you choose it’s possible that your physical pages will have more than 250. So the thing to remember is that just because you have, say, a 200-page book and you’re quoted $10 per page it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying $2000. 


Another model that’s pretty common in the editing world is a buy the project model rather than by the word. In these cases, typically what happens is you’ll submit your manuscript and the editor will take a few pages of writing from different places in the book (They do this because the quality of our work is typically different at the beginning than say the middle because we’ve self-edited the beginning so many times) Once completed, the editor generally would send you sample edits they’d recommend for those passages to give you an idea of what to expect of their approach and  style. This is also when they’ll quote you a price based on your project. If you’re a pretty sound writer, the cost will be lower than say, if you have a powerful story but grammar and sentence structure are a real challenge in your writing.

At the end of the day, what’s most critical is that you are crystal clear on what you are paying for and how much it’s going to cost so there are no ugly surprises at the end that throw you off budget and delay your book launch.

My challenge to you this week is to determine what level of editing services you’ll be investing in your first book.