You’ve finally finished writing your book, article, or other manuscript. Congratulations! But don’t pop the champagne just yet—there’s still an important step left before your masterpiece is truly complete. I’m talking about professional editing.
I know, editing might not sound as glamorous as writing. But trust me, it is transformative. Like a diamond cutter who transforms a rough gem into a dazzling jewel, a talented editor can take your raw manuscript and polish it to perfection.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through why professional editing is so critical and how it can elevate your writing to new heights. Let’s dive in!
What Does a Professional Editor Actually Do?
When people hear “editing,” they often just think of fixing typos and grammatical errors. But professional editing goes far beyond that. At its core, an editor’s job is to make your writing as clear, impactful, and reader-friendly as possible.
Here are some of the key things a pro editor will do:
- Tighten and strengthen your writing by cutting unnecessary words and reworking awkward phrases. Your sentences will become more crisp and succinct.
- Identify sections that are confusing or need more explanation and work with you to clarify them.
- Point out arguments, examples, or anecdotes that detract from your central point and help refine your focus.
- Ensure logical flow and transitions from paragraph to paragraph and section to section.
- Flag areas where word choice, tone or style need adjusting to fit the target audience.
- Verify facts, figures, citations, etc. for accuracy.
- Format everything from headings to block quotes for consistency.
- Catch any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.
An editor isn’t there to rewrite your manuscript or change your voice. Their role is to help polish and refine what you’ve created using their expertise.
Why Bother With Professional Editing?
You’ve done all the hard work writing your manuscript. So why shell out money to have someone edit it? Here are four key reasons:
1. It dramatically improves the quality of your work.
Even the best writers benefit from the trained eye of an editor. I know my writing always comes back cleaner and stronger after being edited. An impartial editor will catch inconsistencies, flag areas that are unclear, and help smooth out rough patches you never noticed. The result is a polished piece ready for publication.
2. It boosts your confidence.
Knowing your work has gone through the fine-tooth comb of an expert editor gives you assurance that it’s the best it can be before sending it out into the world. You can have peace of mind that any errors or issues have been addressed.
3. It increases your chances of getting published.
Publishers and literary agents receive piles of submissions every day. A manuscript littered with errors or in need of obvious editing is likely to end up in the rejection pile fast. Clean, professional editing shows you value quality and are serious about your work.
4. It preserves your unique voice.
Unlike an amateur editor, a professional knows how to polish writing while maintaining the author’s voice and style. They smooth out the rough patches without imposing their own tone or stamp on your work. Your unique perspective still shines through.
The Different Types of Editing
There are actually a few different editorial phases your manuscript may go through depending on your needs:
Developmental Editing: Looking at the big picture elements like overall structure, flow, organization. Makes sure the content aligns with your goals.
Line Editing: Focused on improving the prose at the sentence and paragraph level. Scrutinizes word choice, style and clarity of each line.
Copy Editing: Nitty gritty editing for mechanics like grammar, spelling, punctuation and consistency. Also fact checks and formats elements like citations.
Proofreading: The final polish focusing solely on catching any typos, formatting issues or small errors.
Depending on the service you hire, your editor may tackle one or more of these editing types to give your manuscript a thorough overhaul.
How to Choose the Right Editor
Not all editors are created equal. Here are a few tips for finding the right fit:
- Check their experience. You want someone familiar with editing books in your genre. If possible, verify past clients and samples of their work.
- Make sure they get your style. Provide an excerpt of your writing and ask for an editing sample to see if their approach meshes well.
- Communicate expectations clearly. Discuss what types of editing you want and deadlines upfront to avoid misunderstandings.
- Compare rates, but don’t let price be the determining factor. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better.
- Check their availability. Make sure they have bandwidth to edit your project within your desired timeline.
The right editor-author relationship requires mutual understanding and trust. Take the time to find an editor who “gets” you and your work. It will pay dividends in the quality of the finished product.
Is It Worth the Investment?
Top editors can charge anywhere from $50 to over $100 per hour depending on experience level and project complexity. For a full book manuscript, you may spend $1,000 to $5,000+.
That may seem steep, but it’s a smart long-term investment. Having an editor elevate your manuscript will recoup that cost many times over in:
- Time savings. A good editor can polish a piece faster and more effectively than you could alone.
- Increased book sales. A more polished work equals more copies sold.
- Career advancement. Pro editing buffs your reputation as a skilled, serious writer.
- Confidence. The reassurance of knowing your writing is Air Force One-ready for takeoff.
Great writing deserves great editing. View professional editing as your secret weapon to transform your raw manuscript into a masterpiece destined for success. It’s worth every penny.
The iconic editor Maxwell Perkins once said, “The art of editing is the art of making people want to read.”
I couldn’t agree more. Partnering with a talented editor transforms your writing from a rough draft to a riveting read. So when your manuscript is ready to spread its wings, don’t just hit Send. Invest in professional editing and watch your words soar to new heights.