I have been a ghost writer online since 2003, and a professional editor on and off since before 1980, so you might want to consider this article on how editing is very important for book authors. In fact, it’s also about how editing is important to ghost writers–many ghosts make their “main money” from book editing, so a lot of them are really only book manuscript editors and not ghost writers per se.
Why You Need to Hire a Book Editor
When you present your manuscript to a literary or book agent, or even a commercial publisher, it’s very important for the book to be almost ready to run and print. If it isn’t (if it’s full of typos, spelling errors, syntax dilemmas, and problems with the overall writing), the agent often will turn away from it.
You don’t want your book to be passed over. So it’s best to always hire a professional book editor to give your manuscript a thorough going through before presenting it to an agent or publisher. Many book editors advertise their services as professional ghost writers. A lot of literary agents and commercial publishers hire the services of ghost writers to work on incoming manuscripts, which they feel provide worthwhile and marketable info, but which are poorly written and need substantial editing. So you can either pick and hire a good book editor yourself, or gamble that the agent or publisher you are contacting will see about arranging a book editor for you.
There are several types of editing a manuscript might need. I will list the major ones below, concentrating on the various styles and what they entail.
Styles of Book Manuscript Editing
Line editing and proofreading.
This form of editing means going over a manuscript line by line and editing it for grammar errors as you go. It doesn’t entail any extensive rewriting, but there may be some use of color editing to liven up flat prose, and there may be some reduction of redundancies (such as repeated information). Basically, line editing and proofreading checks for the most basic of grammatical and syntax errors. This style of editing may include the use of a style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.
Color editing/style editing.
This is the most basic form of rewriting for style. It involves rearranging some of the copy so it reads better, flows, and is more consistent overall, while retaining the basic structure of the manuscript. This is not really true rewriting, just some reworking of the wordage to make it more colorful, spicy, provocative, or original.
This is an upgraded form of color editing, in which some minor to major rewriting may be involved. The idea is to take prose that is only tell not show (or in other words flat, lifeless, and merely going through the motions) and turning it into prose that transports the reader right into the scene, making them feel like they are actually there. This style of editing is often called rewriting, but its nuances are far more involved than mere rewriting.
This style of editing involves some major rewriting, such as rearrangements of entire scenes, some scene deletion if redundancies are involved, and minor reworking of the major and minor characters to include new characteristics. It may involve changes in overall tone and development to include new characters, new plot lines, etc. This style of editing is sometimes called extensive rewriting, and it somewhat phases into the next style: developmental editing.
In this type of edit, you will be adding a lot of new info, as well as taking some of it out if it’s lifeless and undeveloped. In other words, you will be plowing deeply into the book and developing most of its info much further. You may add new traits to characters, add entirely new characters, scenes and plot lines. The point is to take what’s already there and develop it further, drawing out the good in each scene. Developmental editing includes pretty much all of the above styles of editing and is the most extensive and costly form of editing.
Costs of Hiring a Book Editor
As the style of editing gets more involved, the cost for each type of editing goes up. Basic or line editing and proofreading runs anywhere from $500 to $2,000 USD for a typical 25-50,000 word book manuscript. The pricing goes up from there as the style of editing gets more intensive. Developmental editing can run anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the amount of work actually involved. Pricing largely depends on the budget of the author and the needs of the editor or ghost writer. It will be determined on a per project basis. Spending money on your book is worth it if you want a workable, hassle-free “clean copy” that you can present professionally to the right people.