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Guest Blogger-Heather's Two Cents on What Editing You Need and When

Hello there my lovelies! This week we're hosting guest blogger Heather Hudec--AGAIN! We loved her Two Cents on How to Keep You and Your Editor Happy so much that we asked her to come back! And today's post may be even better! This one is perfect for you if you're a writer, trying to learn more about WHY you need an editor, WHEN you need an editor, different types of editing, and expected costs of each type. PLUS, how to know if an editor is right for you, and what to expect when selecting one. So, buckle-up-buttercups and prepare to catch some knowledge bombs!

About Heather:

Heather is a freelance editor living in the Pacific Northwest (but wishing she was in Narnia, Florin, or the Hundred Acre Woods depending on the day). She lives for editing fantasy, but she also loves editing thrillers, dystopians, and all novels with beautiful messages.

You can find her on social media:

Instagram: @simplyspellboundedits

And she's a professional editor, so check out her rates/services on her website:

Thanks for reading my lovelies! I hope you enjoy Heather’s piece and I'll be back next week!


-Rose Rayne Rivers


Author: Heather Hudec

Title: Heather's Two Cents on What Editing You Need and When

Copyediting, line editing, developmental editing…oh my! The different types of editing can seem both never ending and overwhelming. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: editing is an investment, but your manuscript is worth it, especially if you have publishing intentions. The struggle is determining what kind of editing you need at what stage of the writing process.Don’t worry! I’m here to help! In this post I’ll give you a breakdown of the different types of editing, when they should happen, and what you should generally expect to pay for them.

There are many different levels of editing and they are all geared towards different stages of the writing process. Do you need to hire an editor for every one of these services? You could, and your manuscript would be no worse for wear! Every single level of editing will benefit you, regardless of how amazing a writer you are. But, if you are on a budget (who isn’t these days?), you also could decide what you feel you need help with, and what you feel qualified and prepared to do on your own. Part of this process is recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses, so I will address those as well!

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing looks at the whole picture, rather than the nitty gritty polishing of other forms of editing. It is one of the pricier editing options available, but that is directly correlated to the massive amount of time and dedication it takes. Developmental editing evaluates and helps you improve your craft. Skilled developmental editors (D.E.) have studied the more technical side of writing. They can help you evaluate and hone your story structure, plot, character development, etc. When you hire a D.E., you can expect to pay a pretty penny and then receive an incredibly thorough report back (generally around fifteen pages) celebrating your wins and offering constructive criticism on areas where you may have room to grow. So when would you want to hire a D.E.? After you have “finished” (is a story ever really done?) your first or second draft and are wondering what areas need your focus for improvement, but before you have done any real editing or polishing. D.E.s know to look past the grammar and clunky wording and look deeper at the overall bones of your story.

Developmental edits generally come before any other edits or beta reads. According to the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), you can expect to pay a freelance D.E. anywhere between $0.03 and $0.08 per word. The cost varies with the genre and the experience of the D.E.

You should hire a developmental editor if you are a newer writer or feel you have weaknesses around the general structure of a story.

Line Editing

Line editing is my favorite kind of editing! Line editing really gets into the style, craft, and beauty of language. It looks at word choice, tone, syntax, and clarity, all the while preserving the author’s voice. Line editors look to improve weak word choices, to eliminate clichés and jargon, and to ensure the correct tone is conveyed. They address pacing and flow, remove repetitive (crutch) words and phrases, listen for natural sounding dialogue, and help create parallelism. So, when should you look into line editing? As soon as you feel your manuscript is as polished as you can possibly get it on your own. Manuscripts generally go to line editors after they have gone through a beta read and revisions. You don’t want your line editor to be bogged down by addressing plot holes, disappearing characters, etc. That is the job of your developmental editor! That being said, plan ahead. Most editors I know are booked out several months in advance.

As soon as you feel you are nearing the end of your own revisions, start looking for an editor, especially if deadlines help you. According to the EFA, you should expect to pay between $0.04 and $0.05 per word. Of course, the cost can vary even more depending on the experience level and availability of the editor.

You should hire a line editor if you struggle with recognizing areas of weakness in tone, pacing, or word choice.


Copyediting is a much more routine, mechanical level of editing. Copyediting looks at grammar, spelling, wordiness, and misused words. Copyeditors will flag deviations from the author’s voice, as well as awkward transitions. There isn’t often a ton of nuance with copyediting, until you get into fiction writing. Sometimes, fiction copyeditors must wrestle with decisions about whether to allow a grammatical rule breaker to remain or to remove it. Often with dialogue and first person narratives, the editor and author will agree to let it remain. You are ready for a copyedit after your manuscript comes back from the line editor and you have gone through any and all revisions. Copyediting means you are nearly ready for publication!

According to the EFA, copyediting can range from $0.02 and $0.05 per word, depending on the genre of your manuscript.

You should hire a copyeditor if you don’t love researching grammar rules or reading the Chicago Manual of Style.


Finally, we get down to the last level of editing. Proofreading is the final step before publication. This is a simple matter of looking through your manuscript for any lingering errors or typos. As this is the least intensive level of editing, it is also the cheapest.

Proofreading can range from $0.01 to $0.04 per word, depending on the genre. However, don’t expect your proofreader to fully edit your manuscript. That isn’t what you hired them to do. They are looking for typos, not plot holes.

Disclaimer: it is impossible to get every single typo and error from your manuscript. The generally accepted benchmark is that a manuscript is edited with 95% accuracy.

You should hire a proofreader if you want one last pair of eyes to look for any remaining typos.

What you should expect when hiring an editor?

You have decided on a level or levels of editing. What should you expect when finding editors? When you find an editor you are interested in working with, you should always request a sample edit. This is your opportunity to gauge whether the editor understands your voice, whether you two mesh well, and, frankly, that they have the skills necessary to bring your manuscript to the level you would like it to be at. Not all editors are created equal, nor are they equal for every project. An editor may be incredible with fantasy, but might not be able to handle a modern day mystery with the same level of skill. Pay attention to the editor’s communication skills, responsiveness, and willingness to answer your questions. This is also the editor’s opportunity to determine whether your manuscript is a good match for them.

The most important thing to remember is that this is a partnership. You will be working fairly closely with this editor, potentially for multiple novels. You want to make sure that you get along well with the editor and enjoy talking to them. Now, they don’t need to become your best friend, but talking with them shouldn’t spark a deep feeling of dread (or irritation) in your gut.

Most editors offer a small sample edit, typically around one thousand words, either for free or a nominal cost. Editors requiring a small fee for a sample edit is not a red flag. Some editors charge a small fee to be sure you are serious about potentially hiring them.

When you send an editor the excerpt from your manuscript, feel free to include a list of questions you have, or trouble spots in the manuscript that you would like them to address. You should expect the editor to give you an estimate of when they will get the edits back to you. Editing one thousand words generally goes pretty quickly, so it shouldn’t take much longer than a few days to hear back. When you get the sample edit back, you should receive a file marked up with suggestions on grammar, punctuation, clarity, and comments explaining any changes they made or suggestions for how to improve the manuscript, as well as the answers to any questions you may have included.

The sample edit is your opportunity to look out for red flags that indicate the editor might not be right for your manuscript, such as: making excessive changes without explanation or feedback; making changes that don’t match the style, tone, or voice of your manuscript; missing (or worse creating) several mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, or sentence structure; ignoring or misinterpreting instructions; communicating sporadically or poorly with you.

Overall, when you receive the sample edit back from a potential editor, listen to your gut. Do you enjoy talking to them? Do they seem to understand your project? Does reading the edits fill you with excitement? Or dread? You poured your time, energy, and self into your project. Choose an editor (or editors) who will do it justice!


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