Using a professional editor

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Getting your self-published book professionally edited is essential if you want to compete with traditionally published authors. It is important to understand the various types of edit and how they can work for you.

Types of Edit

Structural edit

A structural edit is the deepest kind of edit available. It usually takes place after a very early draft. As well as looking for structural issues, an editor looks for major continuity errors and anything else that will prevent the book from working. Experienced authors often feel confident to proceed without a structural edit.

Line edit

A line edit is more superficial than a structural edit, but deeper than a proofread. During a line edit, the editor looks for issues concerning grammar, pacing, misuse of words, nonsensical metaphors, unclear passages and smaller continuity errors. A line edit is highly recommended for all authors. If mistakes undermine the meaning of a text, it's very hard for a later proofreader to do his or her job effectively.


A proofread is the final edit a text undergoes before it is published. The proofread looks for issues such as spelling mistakes, homophones and punctuation.

Choosing an editor

Editors differ in both their level and areas of expertise. Proofreads tend to be fairly objective, but earlier edits such as the line edit require a degree of subjective judgement on the part of the editor. A good author-editor partnership is one where an editor knows when to flag a potential issue and when to allow an author's style to prevail. It is important that your editor has a good understanding of your book's genre. Look at an editor's resume and see if he or she has worked for any similar writers.

You should aim to find an editor that you respect enough to listen to, but with whom you also feel comfortable to disagree.


  • Commission a line edit and redraft before your proofread
  • Always review your editor's changes one by one, it helps you improve your writing

See Also