You’ve written a book — congratulations! So what comes after writing “The End?” No matter your genre or experience level, the answer is always the same: editing your book. While it might seem daunting, editing your book before publication is crucial. Like a great cover design, great editing sets up your book for success, resulting in higher sales and better reviews.

Read on to learn how to edit a book for publishing and get answers to questions like, “How long does it take to edit a book?” and “How much does it cost to edit a book?”

How to Edit a Book for Publishing

You can edit your book yourself or ask friends and family for help, but nothing beats a professional editor’s critical eye and expert guidance. Working with an editor yields the best results and is recommended whenever possible.

If you want to hire a professional, first consider what kind of editor is right for your book. Common types include:

  • Developmental editors. They focus on big-picture issues like story structure, pacing, and characterization. Use this type of editor to strengthen your narrative and organization.
  • Copy editors. They look at grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word choice. Use this type of editor to ensure consistency and technical accuracy across your writing style.
  • Proofreaders. They check for typos, formatting issues, and any other minor errors. Use this type of editor for one last pre-publication read-through.

You can choose to work with just one or several types of editors — it’s up to you!

Unsure where to find an editor? Online marketplaces like Reedsy, NY Book Editors, Book Editing Associates, and Upwork are good places to start. Online author groups are also a great way to get firsthand editor recommendations. Additionally, some self-publishing service providers (including Gatekeeper Press) offer editing services.

Tip: Whether you decide to work with a professional editor or not, it’s always worthwhile to review your book yourself first. To make edits with a fresh perspective, try reading your work out loud. If you usually view your book on a computer screen, try rereading it through a different medium (printed out, on an e-reader, etc.).

Book Editing FAQs

How Long Does It Take to Edit a Book?

Usually, it takes editors anywhere from several weeks to several months to complete editing. This timeline depends on a variety of factors, including the type of edit and word count. For example, it’s faster to proofread a picture book than copy edit an extensive biography.

Editors should be able to provide you with an estimated turnaround time before editing your book. If you need edits with a tighter deadline, some editors can offer expedited time frames at a higher cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Edit a Book?

In general, authors can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for editing services. Individual rates vary greatly based on the editor’s experience level, type of edit, and book-length /genre/complexity. You can review common editorial rates on the Editorial Freelancers Association. Editors typically charge by the word, page, or hour.

Tip: On a budget? You can also use free editing apps to tighten your writing at no cost. Grammarly is a well-known online writing assistant that checks grammar, tone, and word choice. Another option is Hemmingway, which highlights passive voice, complex sentences, and unnecessary words.

How Much Should You Expect Your Book to Change?

Depending on the editor and type of edit, your book may change significantly during the editing process. For example, developmental editors might suggest changes to the story structure and characterization, which could result in updating several chapters. On the other hand, a proofread polishes your work without any drastic changes.

Remember that a good editor will maintain your unique voice as a writer — a professional edit should elevate your book without overwriting your personal style.

Your Book is Ready to Go! What Comes Next?

After editing, it’s time to publish! You can use a self-publishing service provider like Gatekeeper Press to connect your book with readers. Contact us to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and learn more about our editing, design, formatting, and publishing distribution services.


book editing process