What kind of book editor do you need?

So you’ve written a book. Or, most of a book. Or, well, it isn’t exactly written, but you have it mostly outlined and you definitely know how you want it to end. Maybe.

Whatever stage your book is in, it’s going to need some extra sets of eyes on it before you publish it. That’s where editors come in.

What does a book editor do?

A book editor does more than just check for spelling and grammar errors (though that’s certainly part of it). Depending on where you are in the process, a book editor can help you with everything from getting all the ideas that are in your head down on paper to doing a final proofread to polish it up.

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of book editors and when to use them. They are listed in order from the most involved to the least involved in the process of your book writing.

Developmental editors

Developmental editing takes your book from concept to finished product. They can work with you if you have some of your book drafted or if you haven’t written a single word yet. Developmental editors help you develop the overall flow of your book, including organizing the book and determining the book’s pace.

Developmental editors are heavily involved in your book writing process, so this type of editor costs more than a copyeditor. But it can be well worth it to have someone working by your side to make sure your ideas are presented in a way that makes the most sense (and is the most fun) for your reader.


Copyeditors aren’t involved in the book writing process. They get the book after it’s finished and edit for syntax and grammar clarity. They’ll also fact check, when necessary, and check for consistency in tone and voice throughout the book. A copyeditor will make some changes to the copy when changes are necessary to improve clarity for the reader.

Hire a copyeditor when your book is fully written. In general, your copyeditor should be someone other than your developmental editor.


A proofreader performs basic checks for grammar and spelling errors. They aren’t worried about clarity and are laser-focused on making sure your book doesn’t have any errors.

Bring in a proofreader at the very end of your editing to do a final polish. Your proofreader should ideally be someone other than your copyeditor.

How much does an editor cost?

Professional editors tend to follow guidelines set by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) and charge roughly $35-$60 per hour. There are a lot of other factors to consider, though, like your timeline, the specific level of expertise required to edit your work, and the project itself. These guidelines help editors determine the total cost and will vary from editor to editor.

Are you ready to have another set of eyes on your book? Write us a note! Let’s see if we’re a good match to help you with developmental editing, copyediting, or proofreading.

Writing process

Copy editor check list

Copy editing can take awhile. Unlike proofreading, which is more of a final polishing of your piece of content, copy editing is done early in the writing process and can lead to a complete overhaul or reorganization of your content.

There are a lot of things copy editors need to review, which means they will need to read through the copy several times before sending it back to the writer for revisions.

When you’re first starting out, you might find that you go back and forth between writing and copy editing multiple times. As you get better and more experienced, you’ll know what mistakes you frequently make, which you’ll start avoiding altogether.

Pro tip: Read through the entire piece of content once before you start making notes. This way, you’ll understand how the writer is framing the piece of content so you can make more informed decisions about organization and sentence structure.

Copy editor checklist

  • Check organization
    • Does each paragraph transition well into the next?
    • Are like ideas in the same section of the content?
    • Are headers and sub-headers descriptive?
  • Tighten up sentences
    • If you need to read a sentence twice to figure out what it’s saying, it needs to be revised
    • Break up long sentences into two or more sentences
  • Check for language consistency
    • Does the tone stay the same throughout the piece of content?
    • Does the writing switch between first, second and/or third person?
  • Check for clear language
    • Look for redundancy in sentences and paragraphs and get rid of the weakest one(s)
    • Check for unnecessary words that clutter the content and obscure the writer’s intent
    • Read out loud for clunky words, phrases and sentences
  • Run the paper through a grammar/spell checker, like Grammarly, for obvious grammar and spelling errors.