The Writer's Guide to Working With an Editor

You’ve just finished your first draft. You went through it with a fine-tooth comb, revising and rewriting. Now it’s time to send it off to the editor, but you have no clue what to expect. 


  • Is your manuscript ready for a professional edit? 

  • Will the editor like your book? 

  • Will they be harsh or talk down to you? 

  • Is it even worth it to work with a professional editor? 


These are probably just a few of the questions rolling around in your head. But don’t worry…in this post, I’m going to ease your mind. By the end of this post you’ll know what to expect from the process and feel comfortable working with a professional editor. 

 Let’s go! 



What is an editor and how will he or she help you with your manuscript? 

An editor is a professional reader who looks at your manuscript through trained and experienced eyes. An editor has years of experience evaluating, analyzing, and taking stories from rough draft to marketable stories. 

A professional editor enhances your work, striving to help you take your work from great to outstanding. 

At this point, you might also be asking why it is so important to work with a professional editor, especially if you've already spent hours upon hours reading and self-editing your work.

An experienced editor is trained to spot errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, structure, plot, character development, and so on, and knows how to correct those issues. And because it’s almost impossible to see every mistake you’ve made in your own work, an editor is that second set of eyes that every writer needs.  Why? Because you are seeing what you meant to put on the page, not necessarily what’s there.


You’ll want to finish your revision process (and beta reading process) prior to sending your manuscript to the editor. You know the story you want to tell, and the revision process is where you make sure you’ve actually told that story. 

You’ll also want to make sure you’ve tightened your writing as much as possible. 

 You should also do a read-through for grammar and spelling errors. Don’t send a sloppy manuscript to an editor. 


There are different levels of editing and determining the type of editing your manuscript needs is a common question. Here’s a breakdown of the different levels to help you determine what it is your manuscript needs. 

Developmental editing:

Looks at the big picture. The editor will focus on the overall structure of your story including plot, character development, organization, etc. I create a spread sheet that looks something like this for my clients: 

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This level of editing should be done before a copyedit or proofread as you may decide to cut large chunks or rewrite sections of your novel based on this critique. 


This level of editing looks at your manuscript line-by-line. It deals with language, sound, rhythm, grammar, spelling, syntax, consistency. The editor will verify facts, make recommendations for awkward phrasing, and assess the overall readability of the story. 



Once the copy edit is complete, your manuscript should go through the proofreading stage. The proofreader will look for typos, homophones, double words, missing punctuation, double or incorrect punctuation, misspellings. They will also ensure all changes from the copy edit were applied.



Working with an editor is a partnership between the writer and the editor. Editors want you to be a part of the process throughout. Communicate questions, let us know what you’re hoping to learn from the process. We are always happy to answer questions. 

Once the copyedit is complete, it’s your job to go through all the suggested changes. Do this promptly, and be sure to ask any follow-up questions while the manuscript is still fresh in your editor’s mind. Make a list of questions as you go through your manuscript. 



Your editor is there to help you make your book the best it can be. Rely on their expertise and experience. 

Remember, your editor is spending numerous hours on your manuscript and will not want to rush through but will give it the time it deserves. It may seem like a slow process but be patient. We’re going through your manuscript, picking apart every word, every sentence, every paragraph. It takes time to analyze and engage with the work. 

Hiring an editor is a big investment and understandably scary, but it’s an investment in yourself and your work. If you decide to work with me, I can promise you I’ll give your manuscript the attention and expertise it deserves, helping you take it from great to outstanding. 

Want to work with me? Click here.