Master Guide to Selecting the Best Book Editor

Choosing a book editor can be stressful. How’s one to know if one editor or editing service is better than the other?

As authors, we can only base our decision on things like their listed testimonials, prices, and if we’re lucky, a recommendation from a friend.

But, are you getting your money’s worth? Is one editor actually worth their asking price or can you get a better return on your investment somewhere else?

Well, that’s what we’re going to cover today with our book editor mastery guide.

I not only want to teach you about the differences in professional editing services–because there are a lot–but I also want to give you a standardized way to test two editors and choose the one who will truly give you the best return on your investment.

This single step has helped me to build the perfect team and was instrumental to my multiple book successes – because there’s nothing that kills sales and reviews more than poor spelling, grammar, and book structure.

Types of Book Editing Services

So what does a book editor do?

It seems simple, there are editors who edit books, right? When I first dug into this topic, however, I was surprised to find it’s super confusing.

editor-team-confusion

Editors, authors, and even professional organizations for editors use different terms to define what editors do. When it’s time for you to connect with a manuscript editor, you absolutely must clarify what is and what is not included in their service.

There are different levels of editing that range from helping authors with an idea for a book to helping authors ensure every typo or missed period is fixed.

Some online book editors provide all levels of editing, while others specialize in one or two.

Here is a rundown of common terms for editing services as well as some other terms editors may use to describe them. These are arranged from heaviest editing to lightest editing.

  • Developmental editing (may also be called structural or content) – looks at the book’s big picture and overall structure in nonfiction or plot and characters in fiction. Developmental editors may assess a book idea, outline, or early draft to tell authors what works and what could be better. The big picture questions need to be answered first before an editor ensures your words are polished and used correctly.
  • Line editing (may also be called substantive or stylistic) – goes through each line refining the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences and smooth-transitioning paragraphs. This helps the book “sound good” by polishing the language used to communicate your story.
  • Copyediting – corrects grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Copyediting also includes correcting commonly confused words (e.g., affect and effect) as well as checking for internal consistency of facts and consistency with capitalization, hyphenation, and numerals.
    • Important note: Sometimes Copyediting and Line Editing are the same thing…just depends on that editor's interpretation.  In our list of book editors below, we combined them as “LE and CE” and just made it one.
  • Proofreading – a final check before publication to find missed typos, missing words, repeated words, spacing and formatting consistency. Proofreading should be the very last level of editing.

Wow! That made my head spin.

If you are still not sure which editing service you need, many editors offer a free consultation and are happy to help you figure that out.  Some won't even give you a price until they've seen your work.  So be friendly and send them a request.

List of Book Editors:

Speaking of book editing services, let's talk about some of the best Editors out there!

The following list comprises of editors that came highly recommended from some of the top self-publishers.

However, in an attempt to ensure their information was organized and uniform, we requested that each editor state which three services they perform (Developmental, Line Editing and Copyediting – LE and CE, and Proofreading), prices for each, and which four genres they specialize in.

In truth, most of the below professional book editors have other services and specialize in other genres as well.  But, I sort of held their toes to the fire so that we could see an organized list of information 😉

So, if you have any questions, check them out:

List of Book Editors

EditorServicesRatesGenre Specialty
Elise Gallagher
(My personal editor)
CE
Developmental 
Proofreading
Per Project Basis
Starting rate: $.02 per word
Nonfiction-Business, Self-Help, Health & Fitness
Jennifer BlanchardDevelopmental$.03 per wordNonfiction, Romance, Mystery, Thriller
Chantel HamiltonDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
Starts at $8000
Starts at $4000
Starts at $1000
Nonfiction-Business, Memoir, Creativity, Lifestyle
George Wilson (Cambridge Proofreading)Developmental LE and CE ProofreadingStart at $22.90 per 1,000 wordsNonfiction, Academic & ESL, Business
Katharine D’SouzaDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
£26.50 per hour
£26.50 per hour
£4 per 1000 words
Contemporary/Women’s, Thrillers, Historical
Lorraine Reguly (Wording Well)Developmental
LE and CE Proofreading
$.05-0.15 per word (Developmental Editing)
$.025-0.045 per word (LE and CE Proofreading)
Nonfiction, Fiction
Philip AthansDevelopmental
LE and CE
$.03 per word
$.02 per word
Adult & YA Fiction (Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror)
Sarah FoxDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
$.03 per word
$.02 per word
$.01 per word
Young Adult, Middle Grade, Literary Fiction, Fantasy
Victoria MixonDevelopmental
LE and CE
$420-4,200
$8,400-12,600
Mystery, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Thriller
Thelma MarianoDevelopmental
LE and CE
$.01-.03 per word
$.02-.04 per word
Women’s Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Suspense
Jessi Rita HoffmanDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
Request a QuoteSelf-Help, Christian, How-To, Memoir
Roz MorrisDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
Mentoring (ongoing or one-off sessions)
£.07 per word
£29.90 per hour
£26.50 per hour
Price on application
Contemporary, Literary, Historical Literary, Memoir, Thrillers, Upmarket Fiction
Leigh HoganDevelopmental
2 Pass Line and Copy Edit
$.010 per word
$.010 per word
Genre Fiction
C. S. LakinDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
$70 per hourFantasy-Sci-Fi, Mystery, Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Wendy JanesProofreading£3-£5 per 1000 wordsContemporary, Literary, Romance, Mystery
Cassandra DunnDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
$60 per hour
$50 per hour
$50 per hour
General Fiction, Women’s, Memoir, Young Adult
Debra L Hartmann (The Pro Book Editor)Developmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
Contact for Custom Price
$0.02-$0.025 per word
$0.01-$0.02 per word
$0.008-$0.01 per word
Fiction & Nonfiction, Most Genres
Judith HenstraDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
$0.012 per word
$0.15 per word
$0.01 per word
Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Nonfiction
Maya RockDevelopmental
LE and CE
$600-$4500
$1500-$4500
Young Adult, Romance, Thriller, Literary
Deborah BancroftLE and CE
Proofreading
$50 Flat Rate
Lighter Work-Lighter Rate
Heavier Work-Heavier Rate
Business, Nonfiction, Mystery/Thriller
Derek MurphyDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
$.02 per word
$.04 per word
$.06 per word
Young Adult, Fantasy, Nonfiction Business, Thrillers
Georgette TaylorDevelopmental
Copy Editing
Proofreading
Request a quoteGeneral Fiction and Non-fiction
Leslie WattsDevelopmentalContract for ratesFantasy, Science Fiction, Historical, Action, War, Crime, and Thriller
Katie McCoachDevelopmental
Book Coaching
$800-3200
Starts at $2400
Romance, YA, NA, SFF (YA only)
Liz DexterLE and CE
Proofreading
£7 per 1000 wordsHow-to, Health & fitness, Instruction Manuals, Marketing
Invisible Ink EditingManuscript Evaluation
Developmental Editing
Line Editing
Final Proofreading
$00.009 per word
$00.015 per word
$00.025 per word
$00.010 per word
Fiction, Sci-Fi, Mystery/Horror, Drama
Jenny HuttonDevelopmental
LE and CE
£500 – £700
£400 – £600
Women’s Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, Erotica
Maggie LyonsDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
$.02 per word
$.02-.03 per word
$.015 per word
Business, Self-help, Academic and ESL; Middle-Grade
Michelle Barker, David BrownDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading
$0.007 to $0.02 per wordLiterary Fiction, Historical Fiction, SFF, YA, Mystery/Thriller
The Write PracticeHigh-level Developmental Editing$1000Fiction, Memoir, and Nonfiction
My Two Cents EditingDevelopmental
LE and CE
Starts at $1000
Starts at $.04/word
Fiction, How-To
Lyss EmDevelopmental
CE
Proofreading
Starts at $0.01/wordRomance, Erotica
Jennifer BisbingDevelopmental
LE and CE
Proofreading

Per Project Basis
Starting rate: $.02 per word

Memoirs & Mysteries
The History QuillDevelopmental
CE
Proofreading

$559–$1615
$447–$1979
$302–$1337
Price is based on word count and excludes any local taxes. 

Historical fiction
Jeremy BassettiDevelopmental

$.025 per word

Nonfiction Travel, Memoir
Sue CopseyCE
Developmental
Proofreading
Editing: $35/hr
Proofreading: $32/hr
Capped quotes based on free sample edit.
Children’s, YA, Adult Genre Fiction (Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Romance, etc); Non-Fiction (Academic/Commercial)
Anne VictoryLine Editing
Developmental
Proofreading
Starting at .025/word for line edits
Other services have different rates.
Please check site for most up-to-date info.
All fiction. Specializing in Romance, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Cozy Mysteries.
Stories Rule PressDevelopmental
Copy Editing
Proofreading
$0.015 – $0.030/word
$0.02/word
$0.005 – $0.015/word
Thrillers, Romances, and Science Fiction.
Crit & Pen EditorialDevelopmental - Editorial Assessment
Manuscript Evaluation
Substantive Edit
$300
$0.02/word
$0.04 to $0.06/word
Speculative Fiction
Michael MohrDevelopmental Editing$0.04/word
Memoir and Novels (No Sci-Fi, please)
Taylored Content (Allen Taylor)Developmental
Line Editing
$0.04/word
$0.02/word
Non-fiction business, Christian

In addition to the individual editors listed above, the Reedsy marketplace is full of vetted professional editors for every editing level and genre. They screen their editors and only allow the best of the best to be listed on their website. I'm a BIG fan of them because they have made the process easy for me to find the best book editors, book cover designers, and even writers to help me with my projects.  Talk about awesome!

reedsy-book-editing-services

Another place to find professional editing service is the team at Ebook Launch. They have a team of professional editors who can polish your book for an affordable price. You can even get a free sample edit of 750 words to help you decide if they're a good fit. The small team at Ebook Launch also provides amazing book cover designs and formatting in addition to their editing service.

A site where you can hire editors on a freelance basis. Has a range of prices so there is something to suit most budgets. Be sure to take the usual caution when working with a freelancer. Check out their reputation carefully first and communicate carefully with them in order to determine a schedule, payment expectations, methods of communication etc.

Another online editing service is Scribendi, which has over 300 experienced and educated editors. They've been around a long time. With this service, you decide how fast you want the book edited and how extensive the edit should be, then they match you with an editor. You don't ever actually meet the editor, but rather work through their customer service team. Their prices depend on your requested turnaround time and word count. You can get a free quote here.

This is an excellent Chicago-based international agency with over 300 editors. They cover a huge range of genres and specialisms. With both British and American editors on their books, they edit in both UK and US English styles. The price is dependent on the level of editing you require and the speed of your delivery needs.

Book Editing Associates

BEA was formed in 1998 to help writers find professional book editors and proofreaders with experience working for traditional publishing houses. It continues to be a matchmaking service for writers and editors and now includes editors who can assist with the self-publishing process. The network includes award-winning editors and ghostwriters who have worked on best-sellers. Writers work directly with the editors they select. Rates vary by editor. Use the submission form for direct contact and a price quote.

In addition to cover designs and formatting, you can get professional proofreading through Author Packages. They can help you make sure your manuscript is ready for publication.

What to Look for in an Editor

Now that you have a basic understanding of the book editing services, and have access to a list of top editors, ask yourself what you are looking for in an editor.

There are several things to consider when choosing book editors:

  • Recommendations – Is this person recommended by someone you know or other writers who have worked with her? Does she have any references you can contact? This will help you understand the editor’s experience, as well as what it’s like for authors to work with her.
  • Specialty – Do you want a copy editor who will strictly follow the rules in the Chicago Manual of Style? Do you want someone whose specialty is line editing and can write smooth, clear, and creative sentences? Are you looking for someone to make sure you don’t have any glaring grammar or spelling mistakes so as to avoid the brutal grammar police reviews? Or do you want someone to look at the overall structure or plot of your book?
  • Genre – If you’re a nonfiction author, your best bet is to choose editors who understand the structure of good nonfiction books; they know what works and will keep readers happy. If you’re a fiction author, select a fiction editor who is passionate about those stories and knows what readers of your genre are looking for. Choosing an editor within your genre is especially important for developmental editing.
  • Language – Many freelance online editors work internationally. One thing to look for in an editor is someone who speaks the desired language of your book as a first language. Grammar rules and spelling are different in American English and British English, for example.
  • Sample – Most editors will do a sample edit for free or a small fee. Send a few editors the same sample of your book and see how they come back. Every editor edits differently. This will be a chance to find out if they can make your book better, keep your voice, and work well with you.
  • Rates – Most online book editors are freelance editors, which means they set their own rates. Editors may charge per word, hour, or project. Editing is a valuable investment in your book as a good editor can turn your story from meh to amazing! But the highest rates don’t necessarily mean the best editor, and the lowest rates could be wasted money. Definitely take rates into consideration, but don’t select an editor solely on price.
  • Software and Systems – Some of us writers like using certain types of writing tools or software.  I personally love to write my books using Scrivener, and will then switch to Google docs for better tracking systems.  However, I've run into editors who only use Word document.  That's no bueno for me.  So, make sure they are good with whatever writing programs you want to use.

What Do You Do If You Can't Choose?

When we go to select a book editor, how do we know that that person really is a professional?  How do we know that they are worth the price as compared to the other editors out there?

I'm not good enough with grammar to figure it out (as you can see in my Grammarly review).  All I see is that they made corrections…but did they get them all?

So, instead of just ‘hoping' they were the right one, I devised a Standardized Editor test.

Most editors will do a free sample editing. So, instead of just sending them the first couple pages of your book, why not send them a test? This way, you have an answer key and you can see EXACTLY how they did.  Did they do a good job?  Did they miss certain grammar rules?

More importantly, how did they do compared to another editor?

Think something like that would be useful?

editor-book-arrow

Then, check out my free Editor Test and start finding out if an editor is worth the price they are asking, and how they compare to others!

  • Compare editors
  • Ensure they're worth the price
  • Don't get scammed!

 

Download the Test Now!

The truth about grammar is that there are LOTS of different nuances and even varying rules. So, to ensure our test doesn’t lead to arguments or inaccuracy, we designed it with the following in mind:

  • The grammar rules follow American English, which differs from British English.
  • It tests grammar, punctuation, and spelling (things mostly at copyediting and proofreading level of editing). Even though the writing may benefit from heavier line editing, that is not part of this editing assessment.
  • Grammar rules and recommendations vary by style guide. The preferred style guide for this article is the Chicago Manual of Style, a common style guide for book authors. Dictionaries also disagree sometimes. The preferred dictionary for this piece is the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Where Else Can I Look for Book Editors?

Didn’t find the right editor above? No worries. You may have to try several before finding the right one to help make your book better.

Here are a few other methods you can use to the find an editor who fits your writing style:

Word of mouth

  • Friends
  • Authors in your genre
  • Social media groups for writers (e.g., Facebook or LinkedIn)
  • Forums on popular writing websites
  • Sales page of books – some people list their editor on their sales page. Look at the books of authors you respect and see if their editors are listed on the sales page.
book-editor-name-on-amazon-page

 

A place you can post your job and hire freelance editors. With nearly 60,000 editors on the site, however, it can be a daunting project to find the right editor. To narrow down the candidates, you could make a detailed project description with required skills, language competency, and portfolio requirements. This should help eliminate unqualified editors. You can also include a random requirement like “Respond with ‘Hey, Jedi!’” in to find those detail-oriented editors who actually read your entire post and follow directions.

At first, I didn't want to add Fiverr to this list because there are a LOT of editors on Fiverr that aren't exactly a good investment.  But, that doesn't mean there aren't amazing opportunities out there.  Editors like Kerrie McLoughlin, have done an amazing job with their Editor Fiver gigs.  However, if you do decide to go through Fiverr, then ABSOLUTELY use my test to ensure you aren't hiring someone who isn't qualified.

Proofreading Students

Caitlin Pyle wrote a guest post for us about proofreading. She also shared a list of students who've passed her intense general proofreading course, which included a final exam. If you're looking for someone to help you with that final polish, check out this list of proofreaders.

Ever wondered if you have what it takes to proofread someone else's writing? Check out this article about how to become a proofreader.

Editor Directories

These professional organizations have searchable directories of their members and some allow you to add a job post for free.

List of Bad Editors and Services to Beware

Finally, there is one last piece of advice that could help you find a good editor and avoid bad service.

Some sites compile complaints from writers of bad or fraudulent service and post the list of people and businesses to warn other writers.

Here is one:

  • SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) has a “Thumbs Down Agencies List”
bad-editors-to-stay-away-from

Editing Software To Help

While proofreading software can never replace a human book editor, there are several tools and grammar checkers that can help supplement hiring an editor.

Check out my reviews and comparisons below:

So, What Are You Waiting For?

As you can see, picking an editor doesn’t have to be guesswork.

Instead, you can make the right choice from the beginning so as to find that winning team without having to waste oodles of dollars.

editor-book-arrow

Also, to ensure you have the right editor who is worth the price they are asking for, make sure to download my free Editor Test and compare them with others in the market.  This will help take the guesswork out of it and allow you to build the right team around YOUR writing.

You can either choose from our list of professional book editors above or find new ones out there and test them with our free book editing test.

Either way, choosing an editor has never been easier.

Cheers,

Dave-Signature

Sell more books on Amazon

kdp-editorial-test
Free Download

Standardized Editorial Test

Picking the right editor for your book can be hard. We authors don’t really know how to compare two editors and see which one is better…until now. When you go to hire an editor, have them take this test sample article. Then look at our answer key and see which editor scored the best. That way you know their level of quality.

56 thoughts on “Master Guide to Selecting the Best Book Editor

Comments
  1. D. Lavoi

    How would you address finding someone not to necessarily “edit” a book you’ve created but to compile it, if that’s the correct term. I have a group of poems and would like someone to “put it” together. Now, that “WORD” has been set up to only be used upon payment for a certain period, I’m unable to configure the correct size and position of my work on to pages. I could purchase that ability but would still need someone to “compile” my works into a book for publishing. I don’t believe that it would take a large amount of time for someone to do this but I’m unable to find someone that does this particular service. I don’t see it as editing, though it may be. Can you recommend someone or some group to me. I have most of the work done including the cover, opening and closing parts of the book.
    D. Lavoi

  2. Chris Dodds

    Hi Dave –
    In regard to Deborah Bancroft – The only way to contact her is through her website which does not seem to work, at least she has not answered me. After looking at her Facebook page, which was sparse, and her LinkedIn page, I would say she is more of a technical writing expert and not Mystery/Thriller.
    After more than a week of waiting for her to answer my inquiry, I have crossed her off my list. She doesn’t seem reliable if it takes her more than a week to answer an inquiry from a potential client.

    I appreciate all you do. You are my encyclopedia for all things writing!

    Thank you,
    Chris

    1. Dave Chesson

      Hi Chris. Understandable. Usually when editors are full up, they are a bit hard to reach.

  3. Sara

    I’m requesting that you remove Mikaela Pederson (A Step up Editing) from your recommended editor list. After reading your recommendation, I used her and regretted it. Here’s what happened:

    I booked with her in October 2019, sent her my full manuscript December 2019. It was due back in February. February came around and she postponed until March. March came around and she postponed until April. April came around and she then cancelled on me (after waiting FOUR MONTHS) and then offered to refund me. She did not refund me immediately. It took another THREE MONTHS to receive a PARTIAL refund.

    This entire process set me back SEVEN MONTHS. Her communication was also terrible throughout the process. It often took her weeks to respond to my emails. I am still waiting on the rest of my refund and she has not returned my emails for nearly a month now.

    She seems like a nice girl, but unreliable. I can not attest to her editing skills since she never sent me the edited manuscript.

    She does not deserve to be on your list and I’d like to spare anyone else the heartache and frustration of this situation.

    1. Dave Chesson

      Sorry you ran into that and will do. It wasn’t the experience I had, but things do change. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. Rohan Yadav

    I will go through your blog when I write my thesis and also will take help your blog to find the best editor. Your blog is helpful for a person who has no idea about this process, he/she can get wonderful tips and save money to waste on any worst editor.

  5. Stephen

    Hi!
    Super helpful article, so thank you for that! I’m working on my first book, so this is all completely new to me. Question: Do I have to worry about copy righting my story at all or anything legal before handing it over to an editor? Or is that typically not an issue? Thanks in advance!

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