The editing process for a book and, say, a research paper are not the same. The level of editing, and the editor most suited for your text, depends on multiple factors. To begin with, here are some basic questions you can answer to narrow down your choice: 

  1. What is the intention of the text? 
  2. Is your book fiction or nonfiction?
  3. If non-fiction, does it depend heavily on research and technical information? 

This article is written with the assumption that you intend to get your manuscript published. We get a lot of questions from aspiring authors about the publication process and at what time they should consider consulting a professional editor. Or if they should do that at all. As examples: 

  • Should I go query agents first or invest in an editor first? 
  • Should I go to a professional or a freelancer? 
  • In non-fiction how much can I rely on an editor for SME and ensuring that they don’t alter meaning. 
  • Is having beta readers enough? 
  • Is it worth going to an editor for structural developmental and substantial editing? 
  • Should I send chapter by chapter or send the whole thing in one go? 

We have answers for all these. 


It must be noted that working with a book editor is not a one time thing. Writing a book is a long term process, and refining the book is as well. That’s what an editor helps you with. This happens in stages. 


Let’s look at the stages. 


Also consider that if you’re already contracted by a publisher, there are deadlines to adhere. As with the case of NF, academic, technical, and even established writers. You may not always have access to an in house editor. So network first. 


  1. Editing the first few drafts: An editor will review your manuscript as a whole to point of gaps and issues in narrative, concept and overall strength of your text. This is done with the intention of trying to make your story stronger. Content changes/addition may be suggested, your style of writing and usage of devices and narrative style will be looked at as well. 
  2. Refining the text: You can choose to accept or reject these suggestions and rework your draft accordingly. Editor reviews it again, this time more closely – with the expectation that your manuscript is much stronger and complete. 
  3. Line-editing/looking at the details: Once your manuscript is more or less well structured, conceptually, the editor will be doing a more thorough line edit to look at style. This includes word clarity, chapter clarity, internal consistency with the aim of making your communication and writing the best version possible. 
  4. Getting other details down: As all of this is happening, pay attention to other aspects of your book. Do you have a compelling title? Is the cover aesthetically attractive? Do you have a blurb author profile, etc. Make sure these are all consistent with the book you are developing. This will help you spread your reach better. 
  5. Copyedit and proofreading: Once everything is done, your editor does a thorough read of your book to check for grammar errors, punctuation and other technical errors. 
  6. Typesetting and design: There are visual elements involved in improving the reliability of text and also getting the reader hooked to your book. Presentation. Typesetting is therefore important to improving credibility, and it’s even more important if you’re publishing ebooks. It is an important pre-publishing process.