The Art of Self-Editing, Part 5

Teacher and Student Discussing Paper

The Final Frontier—The Professional Edit

Over the past few weeks, we’ve done a lot of work revising and rewriting our manuscript. We’re ready to submit to our dream agent, or the agent who requested a full manuscript at the conference we attended last month. Our finger hovers over the send button.

It’s like sending our first child to their first day of school. We’re launching into a whole new world.

But wait…there’s more.

One of the reasons we hesitate is we’re just not sure. We want to take one more read through. We do. Nothing jumps out at us, but what we’re still not sure.

This is the time to seek a professional edit.

If we’re going to self-publish, we definitely need to have a professional editor examine our work.

I believe it’s worth it to get a professional edit even if we seeking traditional publishing. It will help us make our manuscript the nest it can be.

In either case, we want to invest in preparing our work to be the best we possibly can.

Finding an Editor

So where do we find these editors? How do we find most things these days? Start with a Google search for professional editors. The search will produce a list of editorial organizations. If you want a Christian editor, search for Christian professional editors. Another resource is annual writers’ guides. Besides agents and publishers, many will list individuals who offer editing services. At writers’ conferences, we may make connections with freelance editors. Don’t forget word of mouth within your writing network.

Develop a list of potential editors and start narrowing it down. You are looking to hire someone to do a job for you. Treat it that way.

Do they edit what you write? Some editors focus on special areas such as academic, legal, or medical. Some are more comfortable with fiction than non-fiction.

Ask about their experience. How long have they been editing? How many books have they worked on? How many have ultimately been published? Remember, the freelance editor is one of many who make contributions to a book being published. If not many have been published; it’s probably not because of the editing job they did.

Can they provide references?

Be Clear

Be clear on what kind of editing they do and what kind of editing you’re looking for. A service I provide is a developmental or content edit. You may be looking for a line edit or proofreading. Do your research and be clear.

How do they work? I like to work in 25,000 to 30,000-word chunks of the manuscript. This helps me periodically confer with the author to make sure I’m meeting her needs. I believe in checking in after each chunk is completed. Other editors may have a different approach. You need to determine if it’s an approach you can work with.

When I’m negotiating with a potential client, I propose an edit of the first 1,000 words. This does two things. It shows the author my style and helps them decide if it’s workable for them. The process also helps me determine how much work I think it’s going to take and give them a rate to consider. Here is a LINK to further information about the editing services I offer.


Thank you for sharing the past five weeks on self-editing. My prayer is you found these posts helpful and encouraging.


What has your experience been with finding and working with professional editors?


2 Responses to The Art of Self-Editing, Part 5

  1. Christine Wells October 27, 2022 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you for the valuable information in this series. I really appreciate the specific breakdown of steps.

    The links in The Write Conversation brought me here. I was not at this stage in 2019 — but I am now!

    In the middle of a first serious revision, the order of editing operations and explanation about when/how to use Beta readers is very helpful.

    Appreciate you! 🙂

  2. Henry October 30, 2022 at 4:40 pm #

    Thank you, Christine. I’m blessed to know you appreciate the series.

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