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        Quick Guide to Book Editing [Complete Process & Standard Rates]

        • calenderJun 02, 2023
        • calender 4 min read

        Writers may think of editors as ruthless butchers of innovation, ideas, and creativity, but that’s not the case. With the right editors, book editing can be an incredibly creative and fruitful process that takes your book to new heights.

        Professional book editing elevates your book to global standards of quality. But which types of book editing does your manuscript require? In this article, we’ll tell you the standard book editing rates, the processes involved, and why you can’t rely on self-editing alone.

        Without further ado, let’s get started!

        What is book editing?

        Book editing is the process of reviewing a manuscript to improve its quality, clarity, coherence, and overall readability. It removes all types of language and grammatical errors from your manuscript, so your reader receives a polished product.

        Depending on the scope of changes suggested by the editor, there are various types of book editing. They’re mostly defined by the scope of activity the editor has. Large-scale issues of content quality and organization are taken up first while small-scale issues of grammar and spelling are considered at the end.

        What are the five types of book editing?

        The five types of book editing are editorial assessment, development editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Some may tell you that there are seven or four types of editing, but it’s mostly a matter of policy. The five basic processes listed below can be broken down or combined to create a variety of editing steps.

        For example, we’ve treated structural editing as a part of developmental editing, but some firms may offer it as a separate service. As long as your book undergoes a structural edit, it doesn’t matter whether it was done under development editing or as a separate process.

        Now that we’ve cleared this up, let’s get into the five types of book editing!

        1. Editorial assessment

        Editing a new book is a layered process, so each manuscript must go through all types of book editing before it’s ready to be published. However, you may need some types of editing more than others, depending on your book and writing style. An editorial assessment finds this out for you.

        Although it’s more of a pre-editing check than strictly a type of editing, it’s an essential part of the book editing process.

        In an editorial assessment, the editor goes through your manuscript to ascertain the levels and types of editing your work will require. Based on this, you can also calculate your book editing costs. After this assessment, you should have a clear idea of the editing processes your book needs most, and how much you should expect to spend on them.

        Typically, an editorial assessment takes about a week and produces a page-long review of your manuscript. You may choose to skip this step, but it can help you optimize your cost of book editing. The editorial assessment ensures that you direct your time, effort, and money in the right places.

        The editorial assessment helps you assess the health of your manuscript. It ensures that you’re prepared for the big-picture edits that developmental editing will offer.

        2. Developmental editing

        Developmental editing, also known as content editing, story editing, or substantive editing, reviews the content, structure, and overall impact of your manuscript. A developmental editor analyses your book as a whole, offering comments and criticism on the broader elements such as style and structure.

        Let’s consider developmental editing for a cookbook. This will ensure a coherent structure across different recipes, their arrangement in the book, and the overall tonal consistency. For a book of nonfiction essays, on the other hand, the editor will focus on the order of the involved topics and subtopics that make up the manuscript.

        Essentially, developmental editing adopts a bird’s eye view of the broad strokes that make up the landscape of your book. In the case of fiction book editing, this means your plot, characters, story arcs, and narrative development. The editor’s job is to point out plot holes, ineffective story points, or undeveloped character arcs. They will also touch upon your sentence composition, dialogue writing, and word choice (a line editor will take a closer look at these elements).

        An expert editor will keep in mind your target audience as well as your genre expectations. Based on the two, they will shape and edit your document, sometimes making major changes to the content. This is why developmental editing comes before copy editing and proofreading.

        Once your book has passed the substantive check, it can be taken up by the copy editor.

        3. Line editing

        Line editing, as the name suggests, is a line-by-line perusal of your manuscript. It focuses on the style, emotion, and unique voice that is apparent in your book. To do this, the editor pays attention to your sentence structure, word choice, grammar, punctuation, and syntax.

        Line editing helps make your writing more polished, engaging, and readable. It also aims to make your text clear and coherent, which is somewhat similar to the scope of copy editing. For this reason, these two services are often offered together.

        But if you opt for line editing separately, the editor will help you tighten your sentences, eliminate unnecessary repetition or verbosity, and suggest alternative phrasing when needed. In the case of a novel or memoir, this also involves refining your dialogue, pacing, and narrative voice.

        So, a line editor ensures that you’re using the right language to communicate with your reader. They help you mold your book into a more engaging read. 

        4. Copy editing

        Copy editing reviews the mechanical aspects of writing to ensure accuracy, consistency, and clarity in your book. A copy editor checks for your spelling, punctuation, and grammar, preserving your unique style while removing obvious language errors. Copy editors often maintain various manuals for this purpose, and sometimes create a style sheet that they can refer to while editing your manuscript. 

        The editor also combs through your paragraphs to maintain internal consistency in your writing. After all, you don’t want to mix up your 1948s with your 1984s! Or, for that matter, have a character be seen in jeans when they were rocking denim shorts just a couple of pages ago!

        The mechanical aspects of copy editing help improve the readability of your book, which plays out together with the editor’s attention to the mood and style of your writing. The editor removes redundant words and phrases, offering better alternatives where necessary. They make sure that your intended tone translates clearly, and that there aren’t any disruptions or sudden tonal shifts.

        In this way, a copy editor gives your manuscript a comprehensive style, preserving your voice while promoting clarity and readability.

        5. Proofreading

        Proofreading is the last stage in the editing process of a book. Any work of writing that is released to an audience is always proofread before publishing. Proofing your manuscript removes all minor errors from a misplaced hyphen to a random inconsistency, from your book.

        Believe it or not, the initial types of book editing that help improve your document are likely to add some new errors to it! A proofreader can spot these mistakes due to their experience and skill. Once they’re done with your manuscript, you can be sure that your book is good to go.

        In this way, proofreading is the final inspection, removing all errors before your book is released to the world. While other editors might offer a cursory proofread, a standard proofreading round happens after your book has been typeset. A proof copy of your final book is then proofread to ensure the highest quality.

        A rundown of the types of book editing: 1. Editorial assessment 2. Developmental editing 3. Line editing 4. Copy editing 5. Proofreading

        How much does book editing cost?

        On average, book editing costs between $1,500 and $3,000. This may vary depending on the type of book editing you opt for as well as your manuscript’s genre, complexity, and length.

        Different entities in the professional book editing arena price their services differently. Some editors charge an hourly rate while others charge a per-page price. The cost of editing a book also varies based on the types of editing you opt for. At PaperTrue, for example, book editing services are offered in three tiers:

        If you were wondering how much book editing costs, we hope you have your answer now! You can analyze the editing packages offered by various editing firms and individual editors. You can budget effectively by balancing the needs of your manuscript with offers and packages available out there.

        Should you self-edit your book?

        You may benefit from going over your manuscript a few times on your own and asking friends and beta readers to do this for you. This can help root out many errors in the manuscript and bring down your book editing fees. However, self-editing does not accomplish much more than this.

        You may be tempted to believe that self-editing is the best way forward, but that is not true. No matter how many times you go over your document, some errors are bound to slip in. Readers will easily catch on to these mistakes and end up with a poor impression of your book.

        It is easy for editors to spot mistakes in your manuscript because they bring an objective perspective to the page. Professional editors have years of training and experience with different methods and types of book editing. Since you lack the proper training to approach your work with distance and objectivity, you need to hire someone to do that on your behalf. This is the chief reason that self-publishing platforms offer book editing and proofreading as primary pre-publishing services.

        Plus, an editor’s role is more than just cutting mistakes from your book. Editors provide valuable suggestions from their experience that help perfect your manuscript. If you’re hoping to publish your book and sell copies, hiring an experienced editor is the wise thing to do.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        Found this article helpful?


        Prasanna Linkedin

        Prasanna is on a little break from academia and spends his time compiling fiction writing tips. He enjoys poetry, mythology, and drawing lotuses on any surface he can find.

        2 comments on “Quick Guide to Book Editing [Complete Process & Standard Rates]

        1. Diego Perez says:

          I loved this blog
          Thanks for the info on book editing!

        2. Kampame Ophelea says:

          It was helpful information, specially the book editing cost

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