When to Edit Your Self-Published Book

One of the questions I am frequently asked is “when should I have someone edit my self-published book?” There are two things you need to keep in mind when deciding when to hire an editor: how is your book formatted and what type of editing do you want. Here is why.


A manuscript should always be edited before it is designed into book format. If you plan to have the editor work on the hard-copy version of your manuscript, it has to be in standard manuscript format; that is twelve-point Courier or Times New Roman type, double-spaced, with margins of at least an inch on all sides. This format is standard in the industry and gives the editor room to work. If the book is already designed, it won’t be in standard manuscript format; it will be in book format.

If you plan to have your editor work on your electronic file, the format won’t matter, but it must be in a word-processing document, not a design program or a PDF. Most editors are not designers and won’t have the design program used to design your book. Even if the editor has the capability of opening the design program or manipulating a PDF (which some do), editing a book after it is designed will still interfere with the design. After the file is edited, you’ll have to return it to your designer to get it redesigned, and there will certainly be an additional charge for that service.

Type of Editing

There are basically two types of editing: copyediting and developmental editing. Copyediting should be done once your manuscript is complete. The editor will polish your manuscript by looking for grammar, consistency, clarity, and style issues. If you plan to add or delete large portions of content, you are not ready for a copyedit because it will result in extra fees due to the editor  re-editing portions of the manuscript or cost more than it needs as most editors charge based on the length of the manuscript.

Developmental editing should take place in the beginning stages of writing. This type of edit offers feedback on elements such plot, structure, character, etc. While many editors will point out obvious or frequent grammar and style issues, those types of mistakes are not the  main focus of this edit. If you decide to hire a developmental editor, copyediting is still recommended before publication.

Hopefully this answers some of your questions about the editing process. If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section, and I will try to address them in future posts.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.