6 Types of Book Editors: Which One Do You Need Right Now? A Professional Book Editor's Guide

Updated: Mar 16

What are the Different Types of Book Editors?

Professional book editor in the UK details the 6 main types of editors in the publishing world and what they do to help aspiring authors!

The editing stage is a crucial step in the writing process, and that means investing in a fresh pair of professional eyes, not depending on Grammarly or ProWritingAid. If anything, relying on artificial intelligence to polish your novel can cause more harm than good as these kinds of software lack the knowledge and understanding of the publishing world.

So, if you’re serious about attracting a literary agent or succeeding as a self-published author, you need to get yourself a book editor or search around for a literary consultancy. However, some writers have no idea which type of editor is best for them. Many often believe that a proofreader is the expert they need after they have finished writing their manuscript, but this can’t be further from the truth. As a result, they may end up wasting their hard-earned money on something they don’t yet need, so it’s essential that you do your research before you hire an editor.

As there is so much confusion about what different editors do, I have written this detailed glossary to help you understand the difference between the various editorial professionals.

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Acquisition Editor

Unfortunately, many writers decide against hiring a professional editor before they query literary agents due to the belief that the agent will edit their manuscript for free upon representation. While this is partly true, you need to impress the literary agent first, and that is less likely to happen if your book is riddled with errors and inconsistencies. You may wonder how this information links to the role of an acquisition editor, but there couldn’t be more of a connection.

You see, many writers believe that the editors who read through the unsolicited manuscripts at literary agencies are the same as the editors who will polish their manuscript to perfection, which is why they refuse to pay to hire one, but this really isn’t the case.

Related Post: 10 Clever Ways to Easily Save £1,000 for my Professional Book Editing Services!

In contrast to editors like myself who perfect the copy or development of a manuscript, an acquisition editor seeks sellable stories for their agency or publishing house. If they are an acquisition editor at a literary agency, they are the ones who read through the ‘slush pile’ in search of the best novels, and if they are based in a publishing house, they will read the novels sent in by agents.

As a result, they will most likely possess extensive knowledge of what type of books will sell, so if your novel has even the smallest plot hole, character inconsistency or language error from the start, they will likely reject it, which is why it is incredibly important to hire a professional editor before you query an agent.

As well as taking care of the unsolicited manuscripts, acquisition editors may also converse and negotiate with agents and publishers, depending on where they’re based while attending various conferences to meet different authors in person. Consequently, they do not have the time to edit an error-riddled manuscript; they will only accept the ones that are the most polished, providing it matches the genre and style their agency or house is looking for. To make more sense of an acquisition editor’s role, here is a brief list:

  • Reading the ‘slush pile’ for upcoming talent.

  • Communicating with agents and publishers.

  • Attending conferences to meet authors face-to-face.

  • Overseeing the development of a represented manuscript.

So, if you’re one of the ones who rely on the belief that an acquisition editor will simply edit your unedited novel, please reconsider your thoughts and think about investing in one of the following professionals.

Developmental Editing Services UK

Developmental Editor

Developmental editing focuses on the “bigger picture” of a manuscript and is usually carried out before line editing, copy editing and proofreading. It wouldn’t make much sense to tackle the content of your story after adding and cutting scenes and polishing the language, so if you feel that your manuscript needs a developmental edit, make sure this is the first type of editing you go for.

To give you more of an insight into what developmental editing involves, here is a list of areas a developmental editor will focus on:

Character Development: Are the characters believable and likeable? Are they relatable and realistic enough for the genre and target audience? Has the reader provided enough detail about them?

Plot: Is the story believable? Is the ultimate goal realistic and achievable? Is it engaging? Are there any plot holes that need to be addressed? Does the plot suit the genre and target audience?

Subplots: Do the subplots enhance the main story? Are they relevant to the main plot? Are they exciting or too complicated?

Dialogue: Is the dialogue believable and realistic to each character? Has each character got a unique voice? Does the dialect match and reflect the time or geographic area? Is the dialogue appropriate for the age of the characters?

Chapters: Do the chapter titles match the content? Are they all a similar length? Are they in the correct order? Could any chapters be cut or merged to tighten the overall structure?

Structure: Is the manuscript structured correctly? Does it follow the three-act structure? Is there a strong beginning, middle and end?

These are all questions a developmental editor may think about when editing a manuscript, but it’s always helpful to keep them in mind yourself when revising your work.

Related Post: Can Grammarly or ProWritingAid Replace a Human Copy Editor?

Copy Editor

Many often believe that copy editors only check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and typos. While that is an integral part of their role, this is a false assumption.

A copy editor is often responsible for the overall context of a manuscript and is in charge of revising a new, rough draft. It is up to a copy editor to make sure that the writer’s manuscript is readable, clear, and coherent. However, this does not mean that writers can send a load of gobbledegook to professional copy editors and expect them to make sense of it – if an editor cannot comprehend what you have written, they will be unable to polish it.

Here is a short list of areas a copy editor will likely focus on when editing your manuscript:


  • Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, punctuation misplacement, and typos.

  • Incorrect homophones such as weather and whether, farther and further, or there, they’re and there.

  • Clunky, lengthy or over-complicated sentences.

  • Inappropriate or offensive words and phrases (unless using this type of language is relevant to your character or plot.)


  • The consistency of spelling (UK versus US spelling), capitalisation, numbering, and font.

  • The consistency of the plot, setting, and characterisation.

  • The consistency of your writing style, character voice, and tone.


  • Possible plagiarism or copyright infringement (if you haven’t actively copied another author, you will most likely be fine, but make sure you check to be safe.)

  • Facts and statistics – if you have used any within your fiction novel, especially if you are writing in the histo