Professional Book Editors–Choosing the Right One

Not all professional book editors are the same or bring the same set of skills to the table. And nestled in among them are the faux book editors, who only claim to have professional editing skills. So how do you find the right editor to polish your manuscript? How do you make sure you hire a qualified person the first time, so you don’t have to pay for the work to be done over again? Here’s some information that will  help.

Three Kinds of Freelance Book Editors

There are three levels of proficiency when it comes to editors advertising their services online or in print.

Self-Proclaimed Editors

These people are typically writers—sometimes quite talented—but they lack the training and knowledge to provide comprehensive feedback and error-free editing. Writing skills and editing skills are quite different from each other. That’s why writers need editors. It’s why publishing houses have editors and don’t just put raw books into print. Even published authors can’t be trusted to accurately edit other authors’ books.

Copy Editors (Junior Editors)

The second group are the junior editors. These are people with experience working for a publishing house in the capacity of copy editors, which means correcting grammar, syntax, and punctuation only. They are not trained to edit for content issues, only to do the most basic of corrections.

Developmental Editors (Senior Editors)

spare2Then there are the full-scale, senior editors—popularly called “developmental editors,” though the actual term is “content editors” or “substantive editors.” These highly skilled individuals are trained to edit the actual content of a manuscript, addressing such matters as ideas, logic, organization, structure, presentation, consistency, clarity, tense, redundancy, titles, subheads, tone, voice, references, and other substantive issues. If they have a background in fiction, they also can give reliable advice on issues particular to novels, such as plot structure, characterization, dialog, pacing, tension, dilemma, exposition, set-ups/payoffs, and point of view.

Senior Editors Supervise Copy Editors

In the publishing industry, copy editors are not permitted to edit for content, only for superficial issues. So if your book needs more than a simple read-through for grammar, syntax, and punctuation, you need more than a copy editor.

Truth behind the ‘Bargain’ Sites

In the current economy, many copy editors have lost their jobs. Some of them go online or advertise in writer publications, representing themselves as full-scale, developmental editors, but lacking the specialized knowledge and training that in-depth editing and critiquing require. Some even offer to developmentally edit novels, but without having studied fiction critiquing or writing. Some, like the self-proclaimed editors, work for peanuts on the discount sites. I’ve had clients who, before finding me, were burned by a “bargain” edit, only to find—after unveiling their book to the world—that it was riddled with embarrassing flaws, problems, and inconsistencies. Some of these their “editor” actually added to the manuscript!

Complimentary Author Consultation

contact-jessiI’m an industry-trained, developmental editor, with special training in fiction writing and criticism. Visit my About page for my qualifications. Feel welcome to contact me for a no-charge phone consultation about your project.

Don’t let unqualified people, pretending to be professional book editors or to have advanced skills they don’t possess, spoil your chances at being published and successful. I’m happy to honestly answer your questions, and tell you what I can do to help.