What kind of editing do you need?

You might think you can do it all yourself – but an author trying to self-edit their own books is a thoroughly bad idea. You are simply too close to the material, as its creator; your eyes will slide off perfectly obvious errors because you see what you are THINKING and not what is actually there. You’re seeing what you wanted to put down rather than what you did say – and your focus (rightly so) is on your narrative, not on the mechanics. And even if you have a non-pro (a friend, or even just a writer colleague without an editorial bent) who’s willing to cast an eye on your manuscript – well, they might do wonderfully for your proofread (catching the errant typos or stray commas that have crept into your manuscript) but they simply don’t have the experience of giving the substance of the manuscript any kind of editorial polish.   

If you believe in your book, you need to trust in the value of a professional edit of your manuscript.

Before you go any further in searching for an editor for your book, consider what kind of editing (or what level of editing) you require. Consider these:

Proofreading: –  the last (cosmetic) step of the editorial process, and the shallowest. Proofreading is meant to catch typos, punctuation problems, and the like. At this point you are NOT looking at content editing or rearranging.

Copy editing: –  a more in-depth process, sometimes referred to as line editing. This is all about improving style and formatting, and checking on accuracy and consistency (the copy editor is the one to let you know when your character suddenly changes eye color in the middle of your story, or if they are indulging in inadvertent time traveling). Copy editing is about improving style, formatting, and accuracy A light copy-edit will consist of a sweep to correct grammatical or spelling issues, and a basic double-check of accuracy and consistency. A medium copy edit might involve correcting narrative flow or even suggestions for re-working some of the text. A “heavy” copy edit will dig more deeply, restructuring the narrative or heavily correcting the style and flow of the manuscript.

Content (developmental) editing: – This is an in-depth edit and involves a close cooperation between editor and writer. The editor – in addition to making corrections where necessary – might add things that the writer left out, suggest removing or restructuring text, or even re-write (as a suggestion) sections of content. For non-fiction, you will also have to factor in your editor’s knowledge and expertise in the subject of the work that editor will be working on.

Editorial services offered

I do not do basic proofreading.

1. Copyediting

Reviewing content for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors on the basic level, as well as improving flow, tone, and clarity.

WHO MIGHT NEED A COPY EDITOR: fiction and non-fiction book-length manuscripts, web copy, research reports, etc.

Basic copyediting rates: $45/hour
Heavy copyediting rates: $50/hour
Add $5/hour for specialized non-fiction projects

2. Substantive/developmental editing

A deeper edit than merely checking for errors, this is usually something that is sought by fiction writers. You might get feedback on issues including (but not limited to) pacing, voice, character development, style, and other advice aimed at improving the book. A good developmental editor is usually a writer themselves, to an extent, and is offering to share a wealth of personal learning and experience as well as editorial expertise.

Rates: $60/hour

3. Academic or technical editing

Specialized non-fiction material. I have a postgraduate science degree (MSc in Molecular Biology) and can offer scientific and medical writing and editorial services – particularly if you need “specialist” materials rendered into a form that makes them comprehensible to non-specialist audiences. I have several years of experience as Production Editor for a scientific journal.

Rates: Ranging from $80-$150/hour based on level of specialization

(rates are in keeping with an industry standard; visit https://www.the-efa.org/rates/ for more information.)


Invite Me! to tell me more about your project (the size, the extent of involvement you are looking for, its nature (i.e. fiction or non-fiction, writing, editing, mentoring…), and if you are looking for a fiction editor I will probably want to see a sample of your work before I give you a firm quote (that sample tells me how much work there might be involved and allows me to judge how long it might take me).

As a rule of thumb, an in-depth short story edit/critique might run you $150-$200; a full-length MS editorial job involving an intermediate level of an editorial dive takes me about a week to do – including a read-through, an editorial pass, a summary letter which you will receive along with your full edit – and that works out to about 40 hours’ work.

So – for about a 100,000-word novel, you might be looking at $1800-$2000 price tag for a copyedit and starting at $2400 for a more substantive developmental edit of the material. You will receive a contract laying out your project and the services for which you are signing up.

I will provide invoices at times that payment is due. Payment terms are negotiable – I am open to installments, and I will provide options for you in the contract. I prefer direct payment via PayPal (full instructions will be given in the contract), but I will accept checks.


“Many thanks for getting back to me so quickly with the critique on my manuscript.Your criticisms are all extremely constructive and helpful and are exactly what I need at this stage. Your assistance has been greatly appreciated.” N. Stewart


“Alma Alexander’s assessment and critique of my ms was excellent! …picked up on many of her suggested changes and have gone the e-publishing route.” H.A. Keller


“You’ve provided me with a wealth of information to think about. I’m very grateful for your help!” W Randel


“Alma Alexander… turned out to be the best thing to happen to me as a writer in years. I expected criticism of certain expressions, clarifications of plot inconsistencies, occasional line edits, and perhaps some big picture tips about how to make my synopsis more marketable. I got this, certainly, but also much much more. Alma managed to gauge the work’s strengths on a profound level. Precisely because she is such a straight-shooter with her criticism, she earned my trust. While it remains to be seen if I’ll be successful in shopping this current manuscript to a willing buyer, I’ve already gained something I didn’t expect: I have a renewed faith in my talent, and in the value of my voice.” C. O’Shea


“Thank you so much for your editorial feedback. I do really appreciate how specific you are. Based on your comments, I feel like I know what the next steps are and can have a go at fixing them through editing. I will definitely bear you in mind again in the future.” A. Joseph