Does My Book Need Editing?

book editing

You won’t catch every error in your manuscript. Only one kind of magical spirit can pull off such wizardry — professional editors. You should hire one if you’re serious about this whole publishing thing.

book editing
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Excerpted from our new guide, You’re Not An Editor: Four questions you need to ask about book editing.

If you’ve finished or are nearing the end of your manuscript — congratulations! That’s a tremendous achievement and I applaud you for the sacrifices and efforts you’ve made to reach the finish line.

So, what’s next? That’s simple. It’s time to have your book edited. It’s an issue faced by every author — from The New York Times Best Sellers to newbie writers. It can be a very complicated issue, especially for a lot of the authors we work with at BookBaby.

So, let me help simplify things. I have four — and only four — questions you need to answer. Once you’ve worked through them, you’ll know what you should do with your book.

Let’s start with an easy one.

Does my book need editing?

The answer is, YES. Moving on… No, seriously. This one is easy. We used to run some different ads about book editing. Here are two examples.

book editing

I’ve got a lot of author stories about editing. Unfortunately, the most memorable come from authors who skipped this important step. We once worked with a preacher from Texas who served as the president of two Bible colleges near Dallas. A few years ago, he rush-published a book that he wanted to include in his curriculum for the upcoming school year. He didn’t have it edited, and he printed 500 copies.

Once he had the book in his hands, he sent copies to his family and friends. As they read it, he started getting texts saying, “Page six, there’s a typo.” “Page 14, there’s a typo.” In time, he wished he’d never published the book at all.

Luckily, there’s a happy ending. He sent the book out for editing and BookBaby reprinted his books at cost to help him out. Don’t let this be you.

Every author needs an editor

There really is no substitute for professional editing. When someone brings a manuscript to BookBaby, the very first question we ask is: “Have you had it edited?” If an author tells us they don’t have much money budgeted for their book and can’t afford editing, we tell them to print fewer copies and put that money toward professional editing. That’s how necessary it is.

Professional editing is the most important investment you can make in your book.

A poorly edited book will turn off potential readers almost immediately. If your book is riddled with grammar mistakes, structural problems, or spelling errors, it won’t have a shot at competing with books that have been professionally edited.

Sadly, too many newbie authors skip the necessary step of getting their manuscripts edited by a pro — they think using an online tool like Grammarly is going to improve their book. Sure, it might find a few grammar issues that simple spell check programs can’t find, but don’t expect miracles.

Your words are the most important part of your book. They are the most precious literary asset you have. Treat them as such.

Read the other three important questions about editing — including what kind of editing your book needs. Download our new free guide, You’re Not An Editor today!

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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and President Emeritus of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self-publishing service provider. After a successful career with companies including Mattel, Hasbro, and Pinnacle Orchards, Steven joined AVL Digital in 2004 as Chief Marketing Officer, leading the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. The native Oregonian was tapped to lead BookBaby, the company’s new publishing division, in late 2014. BookBaby’s growing book-printing operation is located outside Philadelphia, PA, and employs over 100 book-publishing experts across the United States to meet the printed and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Steven retired as brand President in 2022 and continues to contribute via weekly emails, industry guides, and posts on the BookBaby blog. He’s in the process of relocating full-time to southern France in early 2023. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to


  1. I’m a professional book editor for major publishers and I can tell you that I have yet to receive a book to edit that was publishable in the form I received it. Not a single one. These days I regard my job as to make books publishable, and that’s it. I have come to the conclusion that possibly the only person who can write a publishable book without an editor is someone who is also a professional editor for their day job.

    Then there’s the question of what is a professional editor. I’d say they don’t advertise on Mechanical Turk sites. They probably don’t even advertise that they are an editor on their own website because they get enough work through publishing contacts over the years. So how do you find a good editor? I don’t know! You wouldn’t be able to find me with any ease, though sometimes authors do thank their editors in their books and you can look there. However, they’re probably thanking the commissioning editor, not the copy editor, and it’s the latter you want.


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