This is an article by Alicia Dunhams, writing coach and motivational speaker. She specializes in business writing, and has miles of testimonials as to her general fabulousness.
Some authors think a book editor’s job is to correct spelling and punctuation, but a book editor does so much more. Yes, part of their job is proofreading a manuscript and correcting spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors; however, a book editor is also a fact checker and a manuscript doctor. In addition, there are different levels and types of book editors.
Copyeditor: Basic copyediting involves reviewing text and correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation. A copyeditor will read your entire manuscript, checking for consistency, redundancy, flow, transition, and the proper use of words. He or she will ensure that the proper tense and tone are maintained throughout the book, and provide suggestions or copywriting to smoothly transition from one thought to the next. Some copyeditors are asked to fact check statistics and sources within the book for accuracy. The copyeditor is also skilled at eliminating confusion, providing clarity, and making sure the author doesn’t lose the reader’s interest. Skilled copyeditors are proficient in maintaining the author’s style and tone, while polishing the manuscript and improving the copy.
Developmental Editor: While the copyeditor receives the book after it has been written, a developmental editor is involved with the writing process, sometimes before the author has even begun to write the book. Developmental editing involves the entire development and organization of the book, the characters, the story line, and the pace in which it is told. The developmental editor often suggests the order in which the chapters are presented, as well as the overall content, flow, and arrangement of text. When the developmental editor is done, the book should be ready to be sent to a copyeditor.
Do you need both? No. Some authors will only need a copyeditor. Depending on their writing skills, some may need different levels of copy editing, from basic to heavy line editing, and even occasional ghostwriting.
Depending on the type of editing desired, what should be a book editor charge? The following book editor rates were suggested by the Editorial Freelancers Association*:
[UPDATE: 2012 rates]
|Type of Work||Estimated Pace||Range of Fees|
|Editing, basic copyediting||5-10 ms pgs/hr||$30-40/hr|
|Editing, heavy copyediting||2–5 ms pgs/hr||$40–50/hr|
|Editing, developmental||1–5 pgs/hr||$45–55/hr|
|Editing, substantive or line||1–6 ms pgs/hr||$40–60/hr|
|PROOFREADING||9-13 ms pgs/hr||$30-35/hr|
|NOTE ind = indexable page, ms = manuscript, pr = printed, pg = page, hr = hour, wd = word|
Of course, rates vary from one book editor to another. Some freelance book editors will work for $10 to $20 per hour, but you can expect experienced book editors to charge $25 or more per hour. Expect to pay more for editing technical writing or specialized subject matter, as well.
A book editor is an expense that you should include in the costs to write and publish your book. Their expertise often means the difference between an okay book and an exceptional book. If you want your book to give you credibility, secure the services of an experienced book editor who will polish it and make your book the very best it can be.
“[These] common editorial rates…. should be used only as a rough guideline; rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and other factors. The industry standard for a manuscript page, however, is a firm 250 words.”