Hiring an Editor

So I am teeing up one of my books for publication.

First course of action is seeing if an agent bites for trad pub.

However, I am not going to get my hopes too high in the clouds. So while I am aiming for trad pub, I am planning as if I am self-publishing as well, so if I fail at trad pub, I’ve already got a strong plan B in motion.

Which leads me to: Editing
For those here who have hired an editor for their self-published books, did you hire for more than one role? It looks like, if I want to do this as professionally as possible, I will need to have have an editor evaluate the novel as a whole, work on that, and then pay for a Copy Edit, then pay for a Proof Read. At the minimum. (This is my first book too)


  • Manuscript Evaluation
  • Copy Edit
  • Proof Read

Who has an opinion/advise/any experience on this? Am I missing something? Are manuscript evals worth it?

Note: I am not paying an editor yet. I will try to query first, and if that fails, I think my goal is to pay for a Manuscript Eval, and if that comes back with all kinds of good ideas, I will work on those, and then maybe try to query again. But I am only hiring an editor once trad pub has been closed off. However, I want to shop/plan for that now, and wanted to see what other’s advise/experience was.

1 Like

It depends how confident you are in your story and your storytelling. A developmental editor will help you shape your story in a way that is appealing to current reader demand. That is, in part, what you’re paying for: someone who can help you with your storytelling (crisp writing, great pacing, vivid characters, etc.) but who also knows what currently is selling.

In my humble, most readers are looking for a good story and are willing to suffer through a little sub-optimal prose and the occasional typo if they get that good story.

If your worry is the quality of your copy, my experience is that the more eyes that look at a story, the better the mechanics will be. I’d rather find three or four talented amateurs to edit my copy than one high-end professional.

So. I know money might be an issue (isn’t it always?), but for a first book I’d bite the bullet and find a good developmental editor and then shop around for two or more copy editors on the cheap.

But that’s just my take.

Hope it helps.


1 Like

A good dev editor is a significant investment. If this is your first book, I wouldn’t go down that road. Find several good critique partners. Learn how to give and take critique. CPs are invaluable when you are starting out, not only do they help your knock the book into shape, they give you the support network you need as you start your journey to publication. I have only started paying for dev edits now, as I want some tough love to nail my weaknesses and I’m at a point that I can objectively see if a dev editor’s suggestions are making the book better or not.

Line/copy edits are a must. Proofreading depends on your budget. Personally I always engage a professional proofreader after copy edits. But some people give out free copies of the book to a few people to act as typo hunters.


If you want to be absolutely thorough, then yes…hire all three, and ideally get three different editors, one per service.

In my case, I haven’t hired a developmental editor since my first book, but the professional, industry-veteran feedback was useful to my newbie author self. These days I’m supremely confident in my storytelling/pacing/plotting etc., so manuscript evaluations would be a waste of cash for me. But line editing is a MUST. And proofreading can be considered due diligence.

My advice is not to skimp on anything as a self-published author. “Spare no expense.” And commit to quality at every level.


I had a development edit done BEFORE querying. That was after having beta readers and critique partners through. All three are important but you need to be certain of your plot developing skills, chracterization, setting, pacing, structuring. This is key.