Why You Need an Editor for Your Book

editor spelled out in blocks

Book editing is a necessary step in the publishing process, but what type of editing will you need? What do different editors do?

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

When you write your book, you have a vision for the plot, characters, setting, etc. You’re the story’s creator, or at least the author, so it is difficult to take yourself out of it to make structural changes or correct grammatical errors.

What does an editor do?

That’s where a book editor comes in. What is an editor, you may ask? Think of your editor as having a bird’s eye view of your story. They can see what makes sense and what doesn’t. They also catch spelling errors and grammar mistakes. They can see if the pacing is a bit slow or too fast. Overall, your editor is the person in your writing process who can help your story translate as best as possible to readers.

Different editors specialize in different areas of editing. Once your manuscript is ready for editing, you’ll want to make sure that you know the details about who does what and what type of editing your book needs.

Four types of editing

It might seem like editing is just one big process, but there are actually four distinct types of book editing: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Each process ensures that your book reads well and that random errors don’t distract the reader from the story.

However, you may not need every type of editing. Depending on your budget, writing process, and stage of your story, you’ll likely need one or two of the following options. While editing is a necessary step in publishing a book, you need to be selective about the type of editing you choose.

Developmental editing

Developmental editing is usually the first step of book editing, where the editor will look at your story as a whole. The job duties typically include addressing issues within the story itself: think character development, plot development, sentence structure, and elements of dialogue.

Line editing

Think of line editing as diving into the language of your work. This might include:

  • Adjusting confusing sentence structures
  • Removing repetition within sentences or phrases
  • Performing a holistic assessment of the vocabulary, structure, and style of the writing

You can think of line editing as looking at the big picture of the writing — sentences, word choices, vocabulary — while developmental editing looks at the big picture of the story idea.

Copy editing

What is copy editing and how is it different from proofreading? Although they perform similar duties, copy editing comes first. Once a copy editor begins his process, they’re really looking at the details of the manuscript. Copy editing services involve:

  • Looking for spelling and grammatical errors
  • Filling in missing words
  • Gauging the consistency of the writing style
  • Looking for mistakes within the content


Proofreading is the very last step in the editing process — and the necessary one to take before you publish your book. While we’re not rewriting and revising in the proofreading process, the proofreader acts as a fresh, final set of eyes on your work. Proofreaders look for any leftover punctuation errors, capitalization inconsistencies, grammar issues, and the like.

How much does it cost to hire an editor?

The cost to hire a good editor usually depends on the type of editing you need and the length of your manuscript. A freelance editor may charge per word, which can vary between 8–18¢. An experienced editor may charge per page, which can cost between $2.50–20 per page.

These prices will vary depending on the type of editing you want. For example, BookBaby’s editing prices are as follows:

  • Line editing: $10 per page
  • Copy editing: $7 per page
  • Proofreading: $3 per page

The final cost is a big factor in deciding what’s best for your book, though consider, the cost of that glaring grammatical error once you have published and printed your book is much greater.

How to save money during the book editing process

There is a lot you can do to self-edit and lessen the burden on a professional editor, like critically reviewing your work days after writing or reading in different formats — in print versus on screen, for example — to gain a fresh perspective.

With that being said, editing your book content is undeniably an investment. So how can you save money? Here are a few options:

  • Plan ahead. Start looking for editing services months before the writing process is finished. This will help you avoid any rush charges and help you be more selective in hiring your editor.
  • Look at the big picture of your story. See what you can handle on your own regarding your work’s structure, character development, and flow. Beta readers can be a useful asset in this stage of writing.
  • Use the tools at your disposal. If you’re using Microsoft Word or Google Docs, these programs will let you know when you have a misspelled word and offer grammar suggestions. Don’t ignore these helpful tools.
  • Ask for feedback. Again, before you start the editing process, having a beta reader provide feedback on your work can be invaluable. A good beta reader will give you impartial, honest feedback. This can be someone you know, or you can often find professional services for free or for a modest investment. It’s best to have several beta readers look at your work so that you can collect feedback, look for common trends, and make adjustments as needed before sending your manuscript to a professional editor.

Hiring a book editor (and getting the most out of the process)

Editing Guide bannerAs mentioned, the first thing to consider when hiring a book editor is the type of editing you need. This is important to know ahead of time because editors typically specialize in a specific type of editing. Some will be more proficient in looking at your story as a whole, which is perfect for developmental editing; some editors have a keen eye for detail, which is perfect when you need copy editing or proofreading.

One way to start searching for the right book editor is to ask other authors, publishing agents, and writing coaches. See who others in your writing communities know or have used and start inquiring. Check out their websites, their credentials, and their recent work.

You can also look around at the Acknowledgments sections of books in your genre or check out some of your favorite writing blogs and podcasts for references. See how editors in the community talk about their process and decide from there if it sounds like a good fit.

All this research will help you settle on the best editor for your work from the start. Working with someone who feels aligned with you and your process (and genre) will allow you to feel good about working with an editor. The editing process is a necessary part of your writing and publishing journey and will ultimately help make you a better writer.

Where to find book editing services

You can start your search for book editing services online, by typing in phrases like “book editing services” or “book editors.” You’ll find a ton of resources, including many freelance sites such as Fiverr or Upwork.

Of course, BookBaby makes it easy. Head to our professional book editing services page on the BookBaby website to check out the services offered by our network of professional editors. You can choose the exact type of editing you need for your manuscript — line editing, copy editing, or proofreading — and you’ll have your edited work back in hand within 6–10 business days.

Want to learn even more about editing? Get your questions answered with our free guide, You’re Not An Editor: Four questions you need to ask about book editing.

BookBaby Editing Services



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