Some authors think a book editor’s job is to correct spelling and punctuation, but a book editor does so much more. Yes, part of their job is proofreading a manuscript and correcting spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors; however, a book editor is also a fact checker and a manuscript doctor. In addition, there are different levels and types of book editors.
Basic copyediting involves reviewing text and correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation. A copyeditor will read your entire manuscript, checking for consistency, redundancy, flow, transition, and the proper use of words. He or she will ensure that the proper tense and tone are maintained throughout the book, and provide suggestions or copywriting to smoothly transition from one thought to the next.
Some copyeditors are asked to fact check statistics and sources within the book for accuracy. The copyeditor is also skilled at eliminating confusion, providing clarity, and making sure the author doesn’t lose the reader’s interest. Skilled copyeditors are proficient in maintaining the author’s style and tone, while polishing the manuscript and improving the copy.
While the copyeditor receives the book after it has been written, a developmental editor is involved with the writing process, sometimes before the author has even begun to write the book. Developmental editing involves the entire development and organization of the book, the characters, the storyline, and the pace in which it is told.
The developmental editor often suggests the order in which the chapters are presented, as well as the overall content, flow, and arrangement of text. When the developmental editor is done, the book should be ready to be sent to a copyeditor.
Do you need both? No. Some authors will only need a copyeditor. Depending on their writing skills, some may need different levels of copy editing, from basic to heavy line editing, and even occasional ghostwriting.
Depending on the type of editing desired, what should be a book editor charge? The following book editor rates were suggested by the Editorial Freelancers Association in 2008:
Basic copyediting: $25 to $40 per hour Pace: 5 to 10 pages an hour
Heavy copyediting: $35 to $50 per hour Pace: 2 to 5 pages an hour
Substantive editing: $40 to $65 per hour Pace: 1 to 6 pages per hour
(also called line editing)
Developmental editing: $50 to $80 per hour Pace: 2 to 5 pages per hour
Of course, rates vary from one book editor to another. Some freelance book editors will work for $10 to $20 per hour, but you can expect experienced book editors to charge $25 or more per hour. Expect to pay more for editing technical writing or specialized subject matter, as well.
A book editor is an expense that you should include in the costs to write and publish your book. Their expertise often means the difference between an okay book and an exceptional book. If you want your book to give you credibility, secure the services of an experienced book editor who will polish it and make your book the very best it can be.