What Does a Book Editor Do, and Do I Need One?


1106 Design

September 19, 2023

Thanks to all the disparate information available online, a question that should have a straightforward answer can quickly become complicated. “What does a book editor do,” “what are the different stages of editing,” and “how can I find editors” are a few questions that can easily lead authors down a rabbit hole of information. Hopefully, this post will help.

What Is a Book Editor

In a nutshell, book editors work with authors to improve their manuscripts. Depending on the type of editing requested, an editor will strive to improve the style, voice, mechanics, and organization of the text as a whole or line-by-line. They can also help develop stories and ideas, fact-check information, and increase the clarity and coherence of a piece. A good editor can provide detailed feedback to help authors understand where their work is weak and where it’s strong.

Different Types of Editors

There are several types of editors, and the definition of their roles varies depending on who you ask. This can make it extremely confusing when determining what stages of editing you’re ready for and what editors are right for you, so we’ll briefly go over each phase of editing in the order in which it should be conducted.

Substantive Editors: Substantive editors work with the manuscript to improve it as a whole, focusing on making the plot, narrative, and dialogue as solid and engaging as possible. They may reword sentences to improve clarity, seal up plot holes, add or remove scenes, and eliminate redundancy. After substantive editing is complete, the next step is copyediting (see below). Substantive (or developmental) editors may or may not include a round of copyediting in their fee, so it’s wise to ask upfront.

Copyeditors: A copyeditor corrects errors in consistency, grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. They’ll also ensure that headers, numbers, and other items are correct, and they’ll fix problems with logical flow, redundancy, and factual content. Copyeditors reference style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style as they work (the style guide used will vary based on the genre and publication medium of the work).

Proofreaders: Proofreaders tend to chaff at being referred to as “editors,” but we’ll include them in this post because part of their job is weeding out errors in a manuscript. Proofreaders give your book a final pass after your work has been typeset. They find and correct any errors in the final proof, primarily errors in spelling and punctuation, as well as typesetting issues such as tight and loose lines, proper page alignment, and formatting inconsistencies.

Do I Need Editors


To ensure a quality finished product, you should not skip any phase of the editing process. They are each as important as the next, and they all work to improve the book in different ways. Some editors specialize in only one phase, while others are practiced at each phase of editing.

Aside from the technical aspects of editing, editors provide valuable, constructive feedback from the perspective of an experienced professional familiar with the publishing industry. Editors can also help tailor the text to the author’s target audience.

By ensuring manuscripts meet industry standards, editors increase the likelihood of authors making a return on investment. Books that are well-edited are more likely to hold reader attention and less likely to be returned than their poorly edited counterparts.

The real question you should be asking yourself is this: “Do I want this book I’ve spent years of my life crafting to have the best shot in the publishing arena?” If the answer is “yes,” you need an editor.

How to Hire an Editor

Wondering how to hire an editor for your book? There are hundreds of editors on the market that can be found via listings on social media, search engines, etc. It’s important to make sure they’re qualified for the job. Some work independently, while others work for firms such as 1106 Design that specialize in editing and other services for authors. One benefit of hiring a firm that provides multiple services is that you won’t have to worry about juggling all the freelancers you need to work on your book.

For instance, at 1106 Design, a project manager will facilitate communication between you and your team and ensure your book passes through each phase with as much ease as possible. We offer assistance through all phases of editing in addition to cover design, interior design, marketing, distribution, and more. Our services are tailored to your needs. You can contact us to learn more. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about the process.

Before hiring anyone, try to find reviews, testimonials, and complaints. Ask for samples of their work, and if they have websites, carefully review them for any red flags, as described in this article.

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