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6 Harsh Truths You Need to Know Before You Hire a Professional Book Editor in the UK

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

6 Harsh Truths You Need to Know Before You Hire a Book Editor

Qualified book editor reveals the 6 harsh truths you need to know before you invest in professional book editing services in the UK!

Many writers seem to have a lot of misconceptions about how the professional book editing process works, from rates, payment and turn-around times to the actual editing, feedback and delivery.

For example, I've had some writers get hostile with me because there have been more edits to be made on their novel than they initially thought (one guy accused me of money-grabbing even though I gave him a 15% discount).

Some have point-blank ignored me after I have returned their edited manuscript even though they've since been active on social media (I can only assume they're pissed because a lot of work needed to be done on their book).

Some have argued my rates and tried to haggle because editing isn't worth the investment to them.

And others have immediately turned my book editing services down after they have learnt that I can't edit their 100,000-word manuscript in one week!

So, with all that in mind, here are six harsh truth you need to know BEFORE you hire a professional book editor.

Save yourself the disappointment BEFORE you invest.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decide to make a purchase through the products and services I recommend. I only recommend things that I truly love and use, so I hope I can recommend something to you that you can love too! :)

1. GOOD Book Editing Services Are Not Free or Cheap

I get it, everyone wants everything for free, or a really cheap price, but if you're looking for a professional book editor who charges next to nothing, you'll be searching for a while, or you'll end up with an editor who probably won't do the best job.

Yes, it's a bargain when you manage to get a designer bag or a Rolex watch for half price, but it doesn't work like that with book editing services in the UK unless the editor has a discount sale on.

Sometimes, I offer discount giveaways on my Instagram profile that writers can enter if they're ready for professional book editing services, but aspiring authors shouldn't haggle with editors just because they want to save a few pounds.

If you haven't got the money, save up, don't haggle or argue with a book editor's rates. Plus, if you're really not convinced that you should be paying an editor £££, check out this editorial rates chart!

2. Editing a Book Takes Time and a Lot of Concentration

Yep, you want to publish your book NOW, or send those queries out NOW, but if you're serious about publishing a decent novel, you need to understand that a professional book editor can't polish your 80,000-word manuscript in a few days. It can take weeks, and sometimes months to complete a round of edits, depending on the word count and how good your writing is.

So, if you're eager to get your book out into the world as soon as possible, please don't make it the book editor's responsibility.

A book editor will have their turn-around times for certain word counts and writing styles, so it's up to you as the writer to give them enough time to meet your deadlines. Some book editors may have priority packages, but many may not be able to prioritise your manuscript over others.

3. Your Novel May Not be as Good as You Think it Is

It's understandable that some writers may believe their novel is amazing, and it's good to have that faith and confidence to some extent, but if you do invest in a professional book editor, you may learn that some parts of your manuscript aren't as brilliant as you initially thought, and some of those areas may need a lot of work.

I've had a few clients who have clearly jumped into the professional book editing process believing that hardly anything could be wrong with their novel when they actually needed heavy editing in a lot of areas. They have then got hostile with me over an email or ghosted me entirely, even though I've just been truthful, with the intention of trying to help them.

So, try to remain open-minded when you hire a book editor for your novel.

4. Parts You Love May Be Cut

Just because you love a chapter, scene, character, subplot, or theme in your novel, it doesn't mean that it should necessarily be kept.

Sometimes I've cut entire chapters or scenes from a manuscript because they've offered nothing to the plot's advancement, and on other occasions, I've deleted chunks of dialogue and description to remove a lot of unnecessary ramble.

It can be tough when you really love certain aspects of your story, but do be aware that a book editor may come along and tell you why it's not needed. Not necessarily because it's bad, but often because stories need to flow smoothly without the inessentials.

5. You May End Up With Half a Word Count

If a book editor finds unnecessary chapters, scenes, dialogue, description and repetition throughout your manuscript, you may end up with half the word count you started with when you receive your edits back.

Most writers want to keep everything in their books, but if an editor sees that a lot of the stuff you've written isn't needed, you may need to rethink some parts of your novel.

At times, I've ended up cutting 20,000 + words from a manuscript due to large chunks that weren't needed, which clearly hasn't gone down well with some writers, but this is why you need to prepare an expect anything when your edits come back.

6. Book Editors Can Be Direct in the Comments, Which May Seem Insensitive

When I'm editing a manuscript, I often write in the comments in the margins, usually about the developmental aspects of the story. Sometimes the structure may not be quite right, a character may contradict themselves, and things won't make sense. These are just a few examples that would warrant a comment, but when I do add notes in the margin, they usually consist of the first thing that enters my head when I'm reading your novel.

Yes, I may go back through and tidy up what I've said, but I don't go out of my way to ensure that your feelings aren't hurt. By no means am I horrible in the comments, but I like to cut the fluff and focus on the issue at hand.

If something doesn't make sense, I'll question it. If something could be reworded, I'll provide an example of what you could write instead. And if the structure needs shifting, I'll tell you why and how you could do it.

Obviously, I don't go out of my way to make writers feel like shit, but the comments for me are the place to focus on the issues at hand...I'll stroke your ego in my report or delivery email. ;)

I can't speak for all book editors, but the amazing editor I hired from Cornerstones a few years ago did the same. She cut to the chase in the comments of my manuscript so I could instantly get to work on what needed to be improved, but she told me all the good things about my story in her feedback report and delivery email.

It only makes sense and saves time to do it like that, so that's what I do as well. It doesn't mean we're being mean or rude, we just want to focus on making your novel better rather than sugar-coating everything!

Thank you for reading to the end of this post, it means a lot! :)

If you enjoyed it, please like, comment and share so it can reach more writers who could use the advice!

When you're ready to have your manuscript professionally edited, please get in touch with me at Stand Corrected Editing here.

I currently offer developmental editing, line editing, copy editing and proofreading!

Speak soon,

- Chelsea x



Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm a professional book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my editorial business in the UK. If you would like to have your manuscript thoroughly edited by myself, please get in touch!

With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!


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