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. Have you written a nonfiction book that needs reviewed for clarity and structure, followed by a polish of your prose? A developmental editor (also called a “content editor” or “substantive editor”) is what you’re looking for. Do you only need correction of grammar and punctuation? A copy editor can take care of that. Are you looking for feedback on a novel you’ve written? That requires a developmental editor who also has a background in story writing and literary criticism.

Three Kinds of Freelance Book Editors

There are three levels of skill and proficiency when it comes to editors advertising their services:

Developmental Editors

First there are the full-scale, senior editors—popularly called “developmental editors,” though the correct 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 word choice, sentence structure, logic, organization, presentation, consistency, clarity, tense, redundancy, title, subheadings, tone, voice, and other issues having to do with ideas and content.

If they have a background in fiction writing and literary criticism, developmental editors also can provide reliable advice on matters particular to novels and short stories, such as plot structure, characterization, dialog, pacing, tension, dilemma, exposition, set-ups/payoffs, and point of view.

Copy Editors

The second group are the junior editors. These people have experience working for a newspaper or publishing house in the capacity of copy editors, which means they’re trained to correct cosmetic issues like typos, grammar, and punctuation. They are not trained to edit for content issues.

Self-Styled Editors

spare2These are people offering editing services online who are often talented writers but who haven’t had professional training as editors. They may lack the skills required for reliable critical feedback and comprehensive editing.

Writing talent and editing knowledge are different from each other. It’s why publishing houses employ a cadre of editors and don’t just put raw manuscripts they like into print. Without special training, even published authors can’t always be counted on to accurately edit other people’s books.

Selecting the Right Editor for Your Needs

In the publishing industry, copy editors are trained to edit for superficial issues only. So if your book requires more than a simple read-through for grammar, typos, and punctuation, your book needs more than a copy editor.

Here’s what authors get when they work with me: a veteran developmental editor and copy editor (I do both fiction and nonfiction), with special training in literature, screenwriting, and criticism. With my advanced skills, I help authors achieve excellence, elevating their manuscript to meet or exceed publication standards, making it worthy of industry attention and of the public they want to reach.

Please visit the About page for my background and the How It Works page for a list of literary services. If you resonate with what you read, I am here to help. If you need a price quote or wish to schedule a prospective-client consult, here’s how to contact me.

Prospective-Client Phone Consult and Manuscript Review

contact-jessiI offer a prospective-client consult for authors unsure of what kind of help their manuscript needs, and for those wanting a little professional feedback before deciding whether we would make a good team. With this package, I spend one hour examining your material, followed by up to an hour with you on the phone explaining your manuscript’s strengths, weaknesses, and marketability. My fee for this review is $275. Plan to take lots of notes and to ask any questions you may have.