How to Work with a Book EditorAug 01, 2023
Editing is, of course, one of the most essential steps to publishing your book. After the meticulous task of writing comes the daunting task of editing: going through your book with a fine-toothed comb and ensuring all the details, down to things as minute as commas, are solid. Luckily you don’t have to do this alone, thanks to book editors!
Once you’ve written your manuscript and completed a comprehensive self-edit to ensure there aren’t major plot holes and unclosed character arcs you need to fix, and large spelling or grammar errors, it’s time for professional editing. As an intern for Burning Soul Collective and Burning Soul Press, I can confidently say the people who edit your books love what they do and are passionate about bringing your vision to life. That being said, here is my how-to guide on working with a book editor to ensure the process is smooth and enjoyable on both ends, through communication, honesty, and grace.
The most important step in the process of book editing is communication between author and editor. Without this, the author won’t have their needs met and the editor won’t get their questions answered. This could be via email, zoom calls, or even on the phone through calls or text - it's whatever works for the two of you.
You will need to do some research to find an editor, and you may want to find a few to send an email to. Ask them if they have the bandwidth to start on a new project and give them your timeline, word count, a short summary of your book, and the first chapter. Be sure to ask them what genres they read for fun and what genres they enjoy editing in the most - this can make a difference in how your writing style and their editing style aligns!
Once you determine the editor who is the right fit for you and your book, your editor will give you their timeline and a quote for their work, and you'll be on your way! Having an open line of contact will ensure productivity and clearly aligned goals.
Always be honest and up-front with your editor in what your goals for your book are. Trust one another, but if your editor makes a change that you don’t agree with, you don't have to accept them. Remember, it’s your book and they're just making suggestions. However, try to see their edits objectively and respect that your editor is a professional and an expert in what they do. You can always ask why they've made an edit you initially disagree with. Perhaps their reasoning will help you to see things through their editor eyes (or, your readers'!).
At the end of the day, your editor is on your team and only wants what’s best for you and your readers!
Give one another patience, kindness, and compassion. Editing can be tedious and slow-moving at times; don’t rush the process and stay patient. The entire process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the level of detail, the number of edits, and the type of editing. Developmental, line, copy, and proofreading are examples of different kinds of editing that all require different time frames. Developmental editing is the most in-depth meaning it will be lengthier, and proofreading is generally the shortest.
Regardless of the time frame for editing, be sure to keep in mind that life happens and be willing to be flexible. You and your editor both have the same goal at the end of the day— to make sure your book is as perfect as can be before you move onto the final steps in your publishing journey.
Last of all, enjoy the process. You’ve made it this far in sharing your story with the world, and it’s important to be proud of the hard work you’ve put in to achieve your goals. Congratulations and best of luck!
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