Professional Editing Services

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
Polishing a manuscript can be hard to do by yourself, even with a good crit group.

Therefore it can be a good idea to enlist the services of a third-party professional editor, to ensure that your MS really is as polished as possible.

This thread aims to provide a useful list of editors who may be able to help with that, though please note that different editors will work in different ways.

Rather than paying for an editor to simply comment on a MS, I want to encourage this list to develop with names of individuals or companies who will seek to help at the deeper levels of editing, from line editing to developmental editing.

Feel free to make your own recommendations.

In the meantime, I'll start the list and add to it in this post as appropriate:

Teresa Edgerton

As a developmental editor, I have two goals in mind when working on any project. The first is to help the writer make that particular manuscript the best that it can be, and the second is to do so in a way that will help the writer improve his or her writing skills. To that end, I do a detailed critique of the manuscript, plus a general assessment of plot, characters, pacing, style, worldbuilding, and any other matters that come to my attention. I offer suggestions for fixing specific problems, and strategies for improving the writing in general. Although I do not do a line-by-line edit for grammar, punctuation, and spelling as a copy editor would, I will make a note of obvious mistakes that repeatedly appear.
More information:

John Jarrold

A regular editor for major SF/F publishers the past few decades, John now runs his ow business, providing editing services, as well as running his own SF/F literary agency.

I’ve been working as a self-employed editor of both fiction and non-fiction books since 2002. If you want your book edited by a professional, I can help. I can’t promise you’ll be published, of course, but I can shape your work to give it the best possible chance.

More information:
Indigo Editing:

"At Indigo, we're all about color--the easy curve of an author's black letters, the splash of hue in his descriptions, the colorful annotations her writing group leaves in the margins, our editing marks scratched into the spaces between the lines, and finally the palette available for the author's name across the book cover. But we steer clear of the harsh criticisms many writers associate with an editor's red pen. We prefer the complementary indigo ink to coach, guide, and draw out the author's best work. We are bringing new color to editing."

Vinnie Kinsella:

"My name is Vinnie Kinsella (which you probably figured out already), and I am a publishing professional living in the Pacific Northwest. My varied work as a writer, editor, document designer, project manager, and college instructor has afforded me the opportunity to help numerous book publishers, independent authors, news organizations, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations produce high quality print and online publications. I offer an array of publishing-related services, including publication consultation and project management for self-published authors, editing, and document design. You can learn more about service on my services page."

And, if I may be so bold--and self-serving--I am a professional editor as well.
Just a heads up that I recently submitted a story to Teresa Edgerton for editing - and, my, was she thorough - excellent work and recommended. :)
Just a heads up that I recently submitted a story to Teresa Edgerton for editing - and, my, was she thorough - excellent work and recommended. :)

Happy to add my endorsement to this; she reviewed AC for me. Well worth the money, and gave me a lot of tips I'll take to the next. Beyond excellent. :)
I'd just like to recommend John Jarrold. He edited for my first novel attempt. He was very thorough and helped me immensely. I realise now that that manuscript would have been quite a headache for him but he persevered and got the work done. A good job done.
I know this sounds pretty opaque, but I have been reading about content editing and copy editing.

I have just completed a complete rewrite of my novel, and I am currently sorting out as many proofing errors as I possibly can, also the odd character name change, punctuation etc.

I know i need a copy editor. I am thinking about getting it content edited, but my question is this, should I have it copy edited first?

If an editor suggests a rewrite with the copy-editing cost be a waste?


I'd get it content edited first, Sally.

Ooh, add another to the list - our very own Boneman - J.S. Maryatt. He edited the book which got me an agent (I've been wanting to say that for months for him :D) and did a brilliant job.
I have used John Jarrold in the past and am hopefully working with Teresa very soon. Great editors without a doubt. :)

Recently I have worked with J Scott-Marryat aka Boneman on my anthology Malevolence, my own WIP and something else which I can't mention yet and my God is he thorough and very reasonable.

Give him and Teresa a try, you won't be disappointed!

Another mention is Simon Marshal-Jones at Spectral Press
Thanks for these comments.

John jarrold content edited this for me last year. 6 months on and rewrite complete I still find his comments useful.

What is the form with content editing?

I know in general, 'No one will ever read your novel twice'. Should I jj for a second look, work with another editor?

What process have others followed?

I got one content edit for my two and beta feedback, then started to submit. For reworked scenes with big changes I ran any I wasn't sure of past my long-suffering writing group, or the writing group here, many of whom betaed early versions. I didn't get a copy edit and don't think you should need one at submission stage provided your grammar isn't horrific.

Most agents don't feel the need to see a pre-edited version, but consider it up to the author - this comes upon #askagent a lot - and, as most editorial agents will ask for their own changes again, I'm not sure how much further another edit would take you.
Very nice Mr Man of the Bones.

I must admit I have you in mind for my next effort. (Once it be written.)
I have a question. What's the difference between freelance editing and in-house publisher editing? And if publishers edit then should you submit your work to them unedited?
What's the difference between freelance editing and in-house publisher editing? And if publishers edit then should you submit your work to them unedited?

I used to think that editing was just about correcting typos, but a good editor like Teresa gave me so much wonderful feedback on story structure, character development, and stylistic issues. I thought I was nearly ready for publishing when I submitted to her - instead, I learned just how far I was from being anywhere near being the commercial standard that was required. A freelance editor I found to be like a personal writing coach, and absolutely invaluable.

An in-house editor I expect to look to tidy up, though some will work with one or more submissions to encourage them up to submission standard first.

In short, though, never expect to submit work you know to be substandard and expect to get anywhere. And even when you think you're ready, chances are you won't be.

Editors are a very good thing. :)
I have a question. What's the difference between freelance editing and in-house publisher editing? And if publishers edit then should you submit your work to them unedited?

Honestly? Depends on the editor. But, with me, Teresa did both a paid-for edit by me and my publishers edit, and there was a difference in terms of follow through, although the advisory edit went into much the same depth. So, with my own it was up to me what I did, for the publisher's one, the scenes were sent back for further review.

In terms of whether you should submit edited or non-edited - there are good arguments for both. I got an agent with a pre-edited book as did another writer I know, a different writer has a number of fulls with a well betaed but not edited book. But they were all polished and honed and that's the key.
And if publishers edit then should you submit your work to them unedited?

That would depend a great deal on what "unedited" means to you. Unedited, for me, would mean that I hadn't sent it off for developmental editing. For many people, unedited would mean that it was full of misspellings, wrong words, and punctuation errors. For some, it would be far worse than that.

Your work should always be as good as you can possibly make it before you send it to a publisher -- if they see that even you don't care enough about it to do that, why should they be bothered to care about it?
At very least it should be proof read with corrections offered by someone able, even if a professional editor & Proofer can't be afforded. Almost no-one can see their own silly mistakes and nowadays it might mean automatic rejection by agent/publisher or customer reading Amazon free sample.
Good betas are probably better than editors for catching the minor details. I've had developmental edits from two different editors, and neither of them did line edits. That suited me because I'm reasonably (though possibly unjustifiably) confident about my/ Word's spelling and I have excellent betas for the silly mistakes (my beta readers do much more than catch my silly mistakes, but it's one of the many shiny things they do).

So. If your English is OK and your word processor checks your spelling and you know the words you tend to confuse (I normally have to look up "effect" and "affect" to make sure I'm not getting them the wrong way round) then good betas will get your ms into a submittable shape. If you tend to confuse multiple words, chances are you're confusing more than you're aware of and it's worth being sure that at least one of your betas is looking out for such word confusions (and is not prone to them themselves -- always a good idea to read things by your betas and make sure their writing is at the same level/ better than yours!). Similarly, if you struggle with some aspects of punctuation etc. look for betas who can help you with that. Crits here is good too. TJ pointed out to me ages ago that if I meant "hanged by the neck until dead" it was in fact hanged, not "hung".

I took part in a competition a couple of years ago -- people paid $10 to enter their query and the first 500 words of their ms (approx equal to the first page). About 20% of the entries went through to a second stage, and then the x% best of those got through to an Agents round, where agents competed to request partials or fulls from the last 15-20 or so. Some people came out of it with requests from agents, and others came out with useful feedback.

My point is -- none of the manuscripts that got through the first round had any errors at all (very, very few of the manuscripts that were entered had actual spelling/ grammar errors -- sometimes the opener was a bit cliched or slow, or the query didn't grab you -- those got winnowed out quickly). By the final round, agents were judging on whether the story attracted them, whether the voice worked for them, whether they felt they might be able to sell the stories to a publisher.

I don't know how many people who entered the competition actually ended up signing with one of the agents (I know someone got snapped up by another agent before the final round!*) but tough as the competition was, it was a nice insight into how easy it is to reject manuscripts (so is #10queries on Twitter).

Basic errors will kill your story if you want to publish conventionally -- you can self-publish,and get away with a few errors, but if it's full of mistakes it probably won't sell well and no one will review your story unless they're happy to pull your writing to pieces.

Sorry for the rant. To conclude: it's important to make sure your work is edited. Really good betas are a good way to get this done and only require your time to beta their work -- not money. On the other hand, copy editors are more thorough and (mostly) know more -- if you get a good one. Developmental editors are an amazing experience and teach you a lot. I've found them very valuable.

*And several agents were upset about it -- rightly so, since now that story is here <-- link to with the book "Becoming Jinn".
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