Writers have many queries about hiring a professional book editor. Do you need to hire a book editor in the first place? When should you look for one? Where can you find the best book editing services, and are they worth the expense? Let’s answer these questions one by one.


1. Is it worth hiring a professional editor?

It’s easy to imagine that while self-publishing your document, self-editing is an acceptable option. However, this works out only in theory. You have neither the training nor the objectivity to edit your own document effectively, and so self-editing does not work. Here’s a quick guide to the book editing and proofreading process, in case you’d like to read more.


You don’t need just an experienced professional editor to work on your manuscript, you need a whole team of them. There are four essential editing tasks, and individual editors often specialize in one or a couple of these.


  1. Developmental editing: This edit surveys the broad elements of your book, telling you which parts of your book work and which ones don’t.
  2. Copy editing: A copy editor will scrutinize your pages and paragraphs to remove all inconsistencies, grammar mistakes, and punctuation errors.
  3. Line editing: Line editing takes a look at your style and word choice, focusing on the tone and emotion in your writing. Editors often offer this along with copy editing.
  4. Proofreading: This is the final overview of your work, removing all remaining errors from your book. A proofread is crucial before publishing your book. If you’d like to read more about how proofreading changed modern publishing, visit this page.


(Learn more: What are the different steps involved in book editing and proofreading?)


Some editing services coordinate these pre-publishing tasks and save you the hassle of finding different editors for specific edits. Once you start working with an editor, you’ll come to realize how much of a relief this is!


Four book editors work on a manuscript.

2. What kind of editing help do you need?

If you want to know when you should hire a book editor, you first need to find out the kind of editor you require. If you’re still in the development stage and need a second opinion on your ideas (and the rudimentary stages of their execution), you will have to approach a developmental editor. However, if you need someone to go through your paragraphs to remove mistakes and inconsistencies, then you need the help of a copy editor.


(Learn more: How does developmental editing differ from copy editing?)


The work of the developmental editor comes before that of the copy editor and the proofreader, so it follows that you need to hire a developmental editor much earlier than the other editors. However, while hiring a developmental editor, you need to make sure that your ideas aren’t half-baked.


3. When should you hire a book editor?

The most common problem with new writers is that they try to hire a professional editor too soon, not comprehending what falls under the editor’s purview. It’s understandable to consult a developmental editor while finalizing the broader elements of your book, but you need to understand that in the end, the writer has to put in the work and actually write their book. Editors make corrections and suggestions, but the job of writing remains with you.


(Related: How to hire the best book editor for your novel?)


Many new writers also make the mistake of not reviewing their finished draft before sending it to the editor. This results in the editor having too many issues to sift through, affecting the nature of their work and their relationship with you. Make sure to review your draft multiple times yourself, and send it to friends and beta readers for a second opinion, before you hire a professional editor.


Reviewing your draft yourself also helps lower your costs. Remember: the denser your edits, the higher the cost! So, what is the right time to hire an editor?


While you need to ensure that your manuscript is ready for the editor’s eye, you also need to keep in mind that reputed, reliable editors are almost always booked. You need to book them a few months in advance to ensure that your manuscript gets reviewed and edited in due time.


So, your draft needs to go through a few rudimentary edits before you send it for editing, but you also need to book editors in advance. While hiring an editor, you have to aim for the fine balance between these two things.

4. Where can you find editors for your book?

As a self-published author, it is unlikely that you can access (or afford) established editors in the genre of your book. The names that you read on popular titles are almost always associated with a publishing house, the very thing you’re trying to avoid by self-publishing. Fortunately, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the established system under self-publishing. You can hire a team of freelance editors to edit and proofread your manuscript, or hire an editing service to do the same.

Freelance editors

You can hire a professional editor on sites like Reedsy and NY Book Editors. These sites feature a large number of freelance editors from which you can assemble your editing team. You’ll need to check recommendations and ask for sample edits while selecting each individual editor for your specific editing and proofreading requirements.


You should hire a book editor that has worked in your particular niche. For example, the author J. Thorn specializes in dark fantasy. He works as a developmental editor and writing coach for other authors with similar interests, so if your book is a work of horror or dark fantasy, he may be a potential editor for you to work with.


The problem here is that experienced editors are often booked for months, so it might be difficult to find a schedule that works for both parties. Often, if an editor is busy or somehow isn’t the best choice for you, they might know which other editor can be the right fit. Getting in touch with a working professional will get you started with the process of reviewing editors.


You can also get in touch with other writers whose genre and writing style is similar to your own. Make use of your network in the writing community, especially on social media sites like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, where it is much easier to find leads. Other than the sites mentioned above, Upwork and Fiverr are also great places to look for freelance editors.

Problems with hiring a team of freelance editors

Keep in mind that working with a number of different people might hike your editing costs. Moreover, experience and proven results come with an added cost, so finding a seasoned editor through this method will cost you more. If you can’t afford to spend a fortune on book editing, hiring an editing service might be the best option for you.


You need to know that it can be a whole task and a half to choose the right people out of the large (sometimes daunting) number of editors featured on various websites. You also need to look at sample edits to ensure that your working style and work ethic matches that of your editor. It takes a lot of time and effort to screen the many available options and select the right team to edit your manuscript.


For writers who are new to self-publishing, this process is riddled with anxiety and stress. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with the wrong people, or spending money on a botched editing job. Experienced editing services can help.

Editing services

Editing services help you avoid unnecessary complications, simplifying the book editing process. Services like PaperTrue, Scribendi, and Servicescape not only handle all necessary editing tasks with skill and coordination, but also ensure a quick and timely completion of the edits. Moreover, these services have years of experience working in the publishing industry, due to which they are well informed about the readership. They edit your document with your reader in mind, adding more value to your book.


Most of these companies offer lower prices on combined editing processes and discount offers from time to time, bringing down your editing costs by a significant margin. If you’re new to self-publishing, this might be the most pocket-friendly and stress-free option for you.


Here’s a comprehensive list of the best editing and proofreading services that you can refer to while making your decision.

Things to remember when hiring a professional editor:

1. Assess the kinds of editing your manuscript requires.

2. Review the document a few times yourself before sending it to the editor.

3. Start early on booking an appointment with a reputed editor.

4. Ask for sample edits and check recommendations.

5. Monitor your costs to avoid overspending.

6. Editing services are affordable, stress-free, and provide timely edits.


(Related: Quick questions to help you choose better while hiring a book editor)



1. Can I skip developmental editing?

The developmental edit is the first feedback on the quality of your content. It strengthens the weaker parts of your book and adds value to the strong parts. You’d have to be incredibly confident of your content if you’re thinking about skipping this step!


2. Do I need to hire four people to edit my book?

Not necessarily. Editors often specialize in at least two types of editing. Your developmental editor might also be trained as a proofreader. Line editing and copy editing are almost always offered together, so that’s one less person for you to deal with! Ultimately, it depends on the kind of editing you require.


Of course, if you’re hiring an editing service, that one service will handle all editing tasks for you.

3. Can I trust editing services with my manuscript?

Yes. Despite the widespread anxiety among writers regarding this subject, editors will NOT steal your ideas to write a book of their own! Editing services can’t do business without promising complete protection of your document, and they make sure to deliver on that promise.

4. How is an editor different from a beta reader?

A book editor is a trained professional who removes errors from your writing and adds value to your manuscript. A beta reader, on the other hand, views your manuscript and offers feedback from a reader’s point of view. When you hire a book editor, your writing is thoroughly checked for mistakes and you get a detailed analysis of your content. A beta reader’s feedback tends to be more personal and informal.


If you would like to know more about how a beta reader’s feedback differs from editing and proofreading, read this.