Articles / On Editing / Special

So you want to have your book edited. Sounds simple, right? You just find someone and they edit it. Well, it actually involves a bit more than this. Regardless of whether you go with an editing service or a freelance editor, there are certain steps that are common.

The Divas decided that we wanted to write a series of articles that would give some guidelines for what is involved in specific types of editing and reveal the common steps involved in hiring an editor. So begins our series on What to Expect When Editing.

There are a number of ways to get in contact with an editor or an editing service. Generally, such contact is made through e-mail or a form on a website. For instance, to contact Write Divas for editing services, you would e-mail us through our editing bid request form.

Most editors will want to see a sample of the project before they give you a bid. The reason for this is to protect both you and the editor. The editor will read over the sample and discuss with you your editing options if the requested editing service is not appropriate.  It is common for authors to underestimate the amount of editing that a story needs, so don’t be surprised if the editor tells you they think you should buy a different service.

At this time, the editor may also turn down the project. This can happen if the manuscript is not ready for editing, the content or genre of the manuscript is unacceptable to the editor, or the editor feels that he or she cannot do a good job of editing the project (e.g. the project involves development of a manuscript that is outside the editor’s area of expertise).

When you request an editing bid, you should receive a polite and timely response. Depending on the policy of the editing company, a sample edit may be included with your bid.

The bid you are sent should include the price, terms of payment, terms of service, a detailed rundown of what the chosen editing service includes and doesn’t include, the tools the editor will use to edit (style guides, dictionaries, word processing program, etc.), and the proposed editing timeline of the project. You may be asked to sign and return the bid if you wish to purchase the service.

When you hire an editor, you generally enter into a contractual agreement. This protects both you and the editor and outlines your rights if you are dissatisfied with the service. It is at this point you pay for the service. The terms of payment vary from editor to editor and company to company.

If you are working with an editing company, an editor will be assigned to your project after payment is received. She will contact with you and will discuss the finer points of the edit. If you have specific formatting, spellings, or grammatical “errors” you would like preserved, this is the point at which you discuss those with your editor. Your editor should also discuss such things as controversial spellings, the Oxford comma, comma minimalism, and American English versus World English with you, if appropriate. She may also request a character list from you. The reason for this is so the editor has the correct spelling of each character’s name. This list may also include physical characteristics of each character. Authors tend to be shocked when they see how often physical traits (such as eye color) and the spelling of names change throughout the course of a story. These are common consistency errors.

Do not be surprised if your editor contacts you with questions during the edit, especially if she is working substantively on the story. Some editors will give you updates as they edit so you are kept in the loop.  A reputable editor will always make time to answer any questions you may have, to discuss the story with you, and to go over the edits she has made.

An editor is much more than the lady who makes your book error free. She is someone who cares about your story and your characters, and she strives to make your manuscript the best it can be. She may seem fearsome with her gleaming red pen and grammarian ways but ultimately her job is to make you look good, so don’t be afraid to talk to her about your story and to discuss ideas. You editor has a wealth of knowledge that she is more than will to share. When you hire an editor, you are hiring much more than a word junkie. You are hiring a partner, a sounding board, and someone who wishes to work with you on not just one of your books but all of them. She is dedicated to improving your book and you as an author. There is nothing more pleasing to an editor than seeing an author they have worked with move from obscurity to the bestsellers lists.


  1. I finally remember to check out your site and am excited to read the blog. Loved this article, shay. Though I knew this, it’s good to be reminded again, as I’m finally returning to those manuscript rewrites. Thanks for the great info.

    Sherry Gomes

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