Book Editing Services: How To Pick The Right One

Jun 18, 2020 | Editing, Tips and How To

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Simply writing an excellent book is not enough for success in the highly competitive publishing market. You need a polished manuscript, whether you’re self-publishing or going the traditional route. How do you make sure your book is right? Book editing services.

Choosing an editor can be difficult. Unless you’ve written a few books, or have a community of writers at your disposal to ask for advice, a novice writer is left to search. What does Google give you?

A lot of editors, many of them good. But are they the right editor for your book?

Quality book editing services come down to a few basic, intangible traits that you need to understand.

Good Old Fashioned Communication

It always seems to come down to this, doesn’t it? Good communication. This is the bedrock trait of solid relationships in every facet of life and it is vitally critical to a good editor/writer as well.

An editor is there to convey ideas about your book. What they see as working. What they see as needing work. These are precisely the ideas that you are paying them to convey to you. If an editor struggles to communicate these key issues, or you struggle to understand them, the book editing services you’re paying for won’t be as effective as you need them to be.

What do you do?

Ask for a sample. This request works for both editor and writer.

When someone approaches me about a sample, I offer to edit 1,000 words free of charge. That way I can see how the writer writes and they can see how I communicate those needs back to them.

Especially if you’re looking for an editor for a novel-length book, you to be sure you can use the product.

What Type Of Books Do You Work With?

We live in the age of professional specialization. Jacks of all trades are rare, and for good reason, too. 

Just like mechanics specialize in certain makes and models of cars, and building contractors focus on certain aspects of a house, editors tend to focus on certain kinds of writing. From the top-down, they choose to focus on fiction or non-fiction, within certain age ranges, specific audiences.

From there, editors focus even more narrowly. Some specialize in science-fiction/fantasy. Others may prefer to work in a memoir.

Different fiction genres and age groups come with different demands. It only makes sense that your editor knows the specific challenges your book faces when going out to the market, whether that is self-publishing or traditional.

What do you do?

Quite simply ask what kind of work they edit. Have a conversation about the genre, what’s happening in it, what they like. Remember that an editor is the guide for your manuscript. They work to improve the quality of the writing while focusing it on its intended market.

What Do Book Editing Services Cost?

Oh boy, this is a tough one.

When you search for book editing services, one of two things is bound to happen. You either land on a group of editors who grossly undervalue their services by charging too little, or you meet the opposite, inflated prices.

An editor can charge whatever they want. However, there are a few guidelines in place that show what you as the writer should expect to pay.

What do you do?

Get informed. You wouldn’t walk onto the car lot without at least an idea what a particular make or model should cost, right?

My go-to has always been the Editorial Freelancers Association. Check out their website. They publish the current rate ranges for editors performing every type of editing, from developmental to proofreading.

Why is the range important? Because editors of different experience levels charge different rates. It’s perfectly fine to work with someone new (even the world’s best editors were neophytes at one time, after all) but you’re well within your rights to expect to pay less.


The most important thing to understand is that you have choices. Use them. Shop around, ask questions, figure out exactly what you want and then hire the person that best fits that definition.