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10 Things Your Editor Should Do For You

Jennifer Mendez The Writing Process

We’ve all been there, right? That point when we’re so ready to publish, but we have to work with our editors first. As writers, we might think we know what they do, but…do we, really?

Maybe it’s not as simple as editing grammar, and pointing out all your comma misuses. Let’s look into the top 10 things your editor should absolutely be doing for you. By the way, if they aren’t, you need to get yourself a new editor


1) Yes, Your Editor Should Edit Grammar

Yes, yes, all the writers out there just smacked their desk and yelled out in righteousness. Editors edit for grammar, it’s called Copy Editing in the publishing world. They check for spelling, grammar, and consistency, which means they make sure chapter 12 isn’t before chapter 10, and that page 32 isn’t sandwiched between pages 14 and 15.

2) Your Editor Should Direct Your Work to A Developmental Editor

“Wait, what?”

Not so righteous anymore, are we? If you thought your editor, one editor, did all the editing for your book, and 5,000,000 other books out there, well… Surprise!

A developmental editor will only edit plot structure. This means they will cut out bits that seem unbelievable, or weak, and send it back to you with a million little, variously colored Post-Its telling you your story needs major reworking. Congratulations.

3) Your Editor Should Direct Your Work to A Proofreader

This is the basic read-through, and essentially the final bit of proper editing your manuscript goes through. It’s essentially a once-over, where they check that everything is in order, and nothing’s slipped through the cracks. If at any point the proofreading editor feels like something was missing, it’s noted, sent back to you or the editor that’s in charge of that type of mistake (developmental, or copy), and taken care of before publication.

4) Oh, But There’s Also Another Type of Editor…

No, it’s not over. Before it gets in the hands of the copy, developmental, or proofreading editors, your manuscript goes to the acquisitions editor, the person in charge of finding new authors, and promoting writers. This editor also has a minor role in suggestion edits during the whole process, assuming he/she cares enough about your work to follow your manuscript from submission to publication.

And if you work with an agent, or submit anything to any editor, it helps to know this is the type of editor you’re submitting your work to. If this editor says it’s a “no fly zone,” then…none of the other editors see your work.

5) Freelance Editors Do Something Else

Not every editor works in a publishing house. Freelance editors do the same copy, developmental, etc. editing, but they also do substantive editing, which basically means they do a higher class of developmental editing after it’s already undergone developmental editing. During substantive editing, the editor will look at sentence construction and syntax, pace, and whether or not the sections lead logically from one to another, in the case of non-fiction, of course.

6) Editors Should Point Out Valuable Resources, Like Ghost Writers

Let’s be honest, not all books published out there are written by the person named on the pretty, hardback cover. An enormous number of books are written by Ghost Writers, A.K.A. the people with the careers that haven’t 100% kicked off yet, despite them having the talent. These people are willing to write your book for you, for money, without receiving any of the credit and glory. This means if you end up on the best seller’s list, it’s not entirely your doing, but you get all the money anyway. You and your editors.

Speaking of which, what does this have to do with your editor? Editors absolutely must be pointing you in the direction of resources like writers willing to collaborate, Ghost Writers, valuable inspiration and motivation, stress management, etc.

7) Editors Should Be Able to Tell You What You Need

Chances are, if you’re a writer, you’re a little on the bias side about your work. If you have no clue what kind of editing you need, don’t submit it for all the kinds of editing mentioned above. Instead, genuinely ask your editor what he/she thinks you need. A good editor should tell you honestly if your manuscript doesn’t need a developmental edit, for instance. A good editor shouldn’t charge you for a service you don’t need.

8) Editors Should Remind You That Turnaround Time Takes Time

Yes, it took you a year, maybe more, to write it. Yes, you want to see it get published already. Seeing it in stores will be a dream come true! However, it’s not so simple. Editing takes time, and an entire group of people, to ensure it’s up to code first. That means if you’re expecting a month or two turnaround time, you’re in for some fine tunes, courtesy of the smallest violin in the world. Your editor should remind you of this every time you start to hound them.

9) Valuable Tip: Editors Should Focus On Making Your Book E-reader, & Print Friendly

Many authors don’t realize this, especially those starting out, or self-publishing: making your book a digital copy only will hinder success. Ironic, isn’t it? Bookstores went under because everyone was buying e-readers and getting books for cheaper. Well, as it turns out, physical book copies sell too. Thanks, Amazon.

Take book clubs, for instance. All it takes is one person who doesn’t have an e-reader, isn’t tech savvy, or just refuses to get your book in digital form, and all of a sudden an entire book club won’t read, or review your book.

10) Editors Should Make Your Book The Best It Can Be

This is a given. If you don’t feel like your editor(s) care to do this, or aren’t doing a good job, please consider upgrading. Once your book is printed, there’s no going back, and the typos are there…forever.


That’s right writers, you’ve been schooled in the art of editing. If you think your job is hard, consider revisiting this article. Editors have it just as bad as writers do. The redeeming factor for all of us? We’re all desperately, incessantly, and consumingly in love with good stories.

Cheers to all our editors, and happy writing!

About the Author

Jennifer Mendez

Jennifer Mendez has brought insightful articles to Literative.com. From author interviews to how literature meets gaming to expert insight into tools and writing processes, her dedication to helping our author community is quite inspiring. You can find more of her writing at jennifermendez.com.