Publish & Prosper

Do You Need to Hire Professional Editors for Your Book?

April 10, 2024 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 20
Do You Need to Hire Professional Editors for Your Book?
Publish & Prosper
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Publish & Prosper
Do You Need to Hire Professional Editors for Your Book?
Apr 10, 2024 Season 1 Episode 20
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

In this episode Matt & Lauren take a look at the different types of editing your manuscript might need, debate which ones they think are most valuable, and share a few of their tips for making sure your book editing is done right. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Find Freelance Editors and Hybrid Publishers on Lulu’s Hire A Pro Page
💡 Browse Fiverr for Freelance Editors
💡 Check out the Editorial Freelancers Association and their 2024 Editorial Rates Chart

💡 Read These Blog Posts on Editing

💡 Read These Editorial Software Reviews

💡 Watch These Videos

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:14] “I think a hybrid publishing company kind of gives you the best of both worlds between full on self publishing and then, you know, a bit of traditional publishing to a degree. Because for a lot of people these days, you often have more money than time or ability.”

🎙️ [30:42] “Which is another great argument in favor of doing some self-editing before you contract out… If you want to try to keep those costs down as much as possible, the more editing that you do on your own ahead of time, the less professional editing the less professional editing - in theory, hopefully - the less professional editing you'll need to pay for.”

🎙️ [35:34] “A good cover is what's going to sell your book. A good story, a well-written book is what's going to bring them back to buy more from you.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Matt & Lauren take a look at the different types of editing your manuscript might need, debate which ones they think are most valuable, and share a few of their tips for making sure your book editing is done right. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Find Freelance Editors and Hybrid Publishers on Lulu’s Hire A Pro Page
💡 Browse Fiverr for Freelance Editors
💡 Check out the Editorial Freelancers Association and their 2024 Editorial Rates Chart

💡 Read These Blog Posts on Editing

💡 Read These Editorial Software Reviews

💡 Watch These Videos

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:14] “I think a hybrid publishing company kind of gives you the best of both worlds between full on self publishing and then, you know, a bit of traditional publishing to a degree. Because for a lot of people these days, you often have more money than time or ability.”

🎙️ [30:42] “Which is another great argument in favor of doing some self-editing before you contract out… If you want to try to keep those costs down as much as possible, the more editing that you do on your own ahead of time, the less professional editing the less professional editing - in theory, hopefully - the less professional editing you'll need to pay for.”

🎙️ [35:34] “A good cover is what's going to sell your book. A good story, a well-written book is what's going to bring them back to buy more from you.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Matt: Welcome back everybody to another episode of Publish & Prosper. And today is going to be a spicy one. I promise you. And it's not cause we just had some Asian food for lunch.

Lauren: That was a little bit spicy. Not a lot a bit spicy, just a little bit. 

Matt: For me, it was a lot spicy. My little tummy is not - that's probably more than anybody needed to know. But yea., 

Lauren: We all have different levels of spice tolerance.

Matt:  I'm at the very bottom of that level ladder. I can barely get up to the first rung of the ladder. 

Lauren: Well, then I'm very proud of you for those Brussels sprouts because they did have a little kick. 

Matt: They, yep. But I get them every time. So I will suffer through for, for some really good food.

Lauren: They were really good. I'll give you that. I never had those before. Anyway. 
Matt: Well, beyond Brussels sprouts, we're going to be talking about editing the different types of editing when and why you should hire an editor. 

Lauren: We actually - peek behind the curtain for a second - Matt and I were just discussing this outline and were debating enough about points on it that we were both finally like we should just be recording the episode because we're getting like we are pre-recording this episode right now, basically without having our equipment up and running. So we know this is going to be a good one. 

Matt: Well, I didn't say good. I said spicy. You said good.

Lauren: I said good because I think it's going to be a good one. 

Matt: We'll let them determine that. 

Lauren: This is a topic that I love and feel very strongly about. 

Matt: And I hate it. 

Lauren: But that also kind of means that you have strong feelings about it. 

Matt: I do have strong feelings about it. I think it's a necessary - 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: Evil.

Lauren: Yes. Evil!?

Matt: I come from that side of writing and everything else where, yes, editing is a necessary evil because it's a task for people like me, whether I'm doing it or paying somebody to do it. Which spoiler alert, I'd just pay somebody to do it most of the time.

Lauren: Fair.

Matt: Or I have people that are already on payroll to do it. 

Lauren: That's true. 

Matt: And then you have that whole other camp of writers who live for that like you. You probably have owned more red pens in your life than I would venture to say socks in the 20-some-odd years you've been on the planet. 

Lauren: That is actually saying a lot because I have an entire dresser of socks. I'm not kidding. Three drawers of a dresser that are all socks. But you are correct about that. But interestingly enough, actually, I wasn't always like this. I used to be a lot more like you, where I was the kind of writer who would finish writing something and wouldn't even read it over once. I was the kid in high school that would finish writing something the night before it was due, hit print, deliver it to my teacher, and that was the end of it. I never looked at it ever again. 

Matt: I’m feeling very attacked right now. 

Lauren: But I don't know, somewhere along the way, I became a person who not only is, like, very adamant about the fact that you have to edit, but I actually enjoy it. Sometimes I think I enjoy editing more than I enjoy writing. 

Matt: Have you been in any traumatic car accidents? 

Lauren: No. 

Matt: That could have done it. 

Lauren: No, no major head injuries. 

Matt: Okay. 

Lauren: Just a personality transplant, maybe. 

Matt: All right. Did it happen to coincide with around the time you really started liking Taylor Swift?

Lauren: No, no, actually, Taylor Swift came first.

Matt: Oh, okay. 

Lauren: Yeah, I think it was probably grad school, actually. You know, when I paid people to teach me how to be a good writer, somewhere along the way. 

Matt: Well, so why don't you explain to the few people listening that haven't left at this point, why you're so enamored and immersed in the world of editing and why you love it so much and why it's so important.

Lauren: Okay, let's see. How do I put this succinctly? I think that editing is really important because… first of all, I think that nobody has a perfect draft on their first draft. No matter what it is, whether you're writing, whether you're creating some kind of art, whether you're creating content. We've never recorded a podcast episode that I've been like, no edits, no fixes. This is perfect as is. We are going to... 

Matt: That's news to me.

Lauren: Surprise. 

Matt: No, but you're right, because by definition then it's not a draft. 

Lauren: Right. And I just, I don't know anybody that realistically even - who takes one single photo for Instagram, you know, like 

Matt: Me. 

Lauren: Even these days, like -

Matt: It's me.

Lauren: You don't take multiple versions of a photo and pick which one you like the best? Ever?

Matt: No. But I'm not winning any awards from my Instagram account either. 

Lauren: That's true. That’s true.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: But I think that's just something that is just realistic in general, is that the first draft is never the best version of something that it can be. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: But I also think, I think that getting into editing my writing made me a better writer, not because the quality of the output was better, but because I was putting less pressure on myself to get it perfect in that first draft. Because it was giving me that opportunity to then be like, okay. Don't worry about the details on this. You don't have to be overthinking every single word that you're putting into this right now. Just write, just get the words out, write them out, and then go back later and clean them up and tighten it up and make sure everything makes sense and make it better. 

Matt: Better to have an imperfect something than a perfect nothing. 

Lauren: Absolutely. Absolutely that. So, and I also, I think editing's a lot of fun, which is crazy. That I recognize is not a thing that belongs to everybody.

Matt: I think it's important too, because when you're writing or creating a piece of content, short form, long form, it doesn't matter, but obviously we're speaking about books here - you get into a certain mindset and you get those blinders on and you're not necessarily looking for, paying attention to the things that a professional editor is going to. And so I think for that reason alone it's really important that, you know, even on a draft like a lot of people think oh I'm done with this draft I'm going to go back through I'm going to edit it now and… But you're still in a particular mindset. I think it’s really easy to miss the things that you should be catching. Even if you're a great editor, like, self-editing is not something we encourage, especially if you're writing fiction, nonfiction as well. But I just think that you can't have the various different mindsets needed to not only create and write a book, but then to turn around and self-edit it in the proper and most appropriate ways so that the finished product is something that's valuable for your readers. 

Lauren: Yeah, I'm gonna add a caveat to that, which is that you should self-edit, but not - that shouldn't be the only editing that your book does. Like everyone should self-edit and then have an editor look at it. You shouldn't just exclusively be self-editing your book, but I do think that it is important. That's how you become a better writer, genuinely, is by going back and looking at your own stuff and saying, like, oh, I need to fix this. I need to tighten up this. 

Matt: Yeah, no, for sure.

Lauren: I need to work on that.

Matt: And you definitely should not hand over a hundred thousand words of stream of consciousness writing to an editor. A -  

Lauren: No. 

Matt: They're going to double charge you. probably. But B, that's just a terrible thing to do. Absolutely you should self-edit to a degree. When I say self-edit, I mean like, go through and do a full developmental editing job and then come back through on your own and then do some copy editing. 

Lauren: Oh yeah. 

Matt: And then come back through and then do your own proofreading and like, that's just not advisable at all. 

Lauren: Yeah. If there's one - I know we've made this argument before, and I'm sure I've actually made this comparison on the podcast before, but - if there is one service that you're gonna pay for, if you only have the budget to pay for one professional service when you are self-publishing a book, it should be an editor, because you will absolutely have people say, you know, like, this book was really good, the cover's mediocre, the cover's pretty weird, it's not great, but like, the content inside is really good and it's worth reading, just kind of ignore that cover. You will never have people say the content is full of typos and incorrect words and actually like so messy that it is hard to read, but you should read it anyway. That is my number one, always, always, always, if you're gonna pay for one thing, if you're gonna have one person help you at some part of this process, it should be an editor. 


Lauren: So I guess let's talk a little bit about how to do that. There's really two main ways that you can hire an editor. One, hiring a freelance editor. You can do that on Fiverr. You can do that through the Editorial Freelancers Association, which also - actually I'm going to link in the show notes. I'm gonna put a lot of links in the show notes. This is gonna be a pretty like heavy amount of resources in this one, but the Editorial Freelancers Association puts out an annual rates chart where they give averages for what people are spending on different types of editors for different genres of books. Which is a great way for you to know when you're budgeting, how much you should budget for an editor, what the different types of editors will cost, whether or not you're getting totally scammed by somebody that's claiming to be a freelance editor and they're charging you like way, way, way more than the average. So that's a great resource to have available to you. They update it every year. So they have their 2024 one out. I will make sure that is linked in the show notes. That's gonna be your primary method. If you are trying to put together your own publishing team, if you're trying to do this like a la carte and just get help where you need it, hiring a freelance editor is gonna be the best way for you to do that. Your other option is to consider a hybrid publishing company. 

Matt: And when we say hybrid publisher, by the way, we're not talking about what people commonly refer to as vanity publishers either. 

Lauren: Right.

Matt: There are a lot of great, legitimate, and respectable hybrid publishing companies out there that exist. We definitely link to some on Lulu as well under the resources section. So we have some partnerships and some hybrid publishing companies that we've, for lack of a better term, vetted. We've known them for years. We know how they operate, and we know they're trustworthy. But I think a hybrid publishing company kind of gives you the best of both worlds between full on self publishing and then, you know, a bit of traditional publishing to a degree. Because for a lot of people these days, you often have more money than time or ability. And so when we talk about something as important as getting your manuscript edited, regardless of it's fiction or nonfiction, it doesn't matter. Not everybody has the ability to do that appropriately or accurately, and not everybody has the time to do that. And not everybody has the time to do that. And you can find hybrid publishers that have publishing packages for as little as $3,000. That would include some degree of copy editing and then, you know, usually proofreading and some other things. It just makes it a lot easier. I think hybrid publishers right now are probably one of the best ways to be able to put out a quality piece of content. It's been edited. It's got a good cover design. A lot of the metadata is taken care of for you, things like getting your ISBN and you know, and a bunch of the other stuff that goes into essentially indie publishing your book. It's always nice to have somebody in your corner like that. Again, like everything, you need to do your research and make sure that what they're charging you is appropriate because there are a lot of, uh, for lack of a better word, unreputable hybrid publishers and even more unreputable vanity publishers. And we've seen price tags on books as high as $150,000, $175,000. 

Lauren: That's insane. Don't ever pay that much.

Matt: Well, yeah, but often what you see happening there, those price rates, is oftentimes the CEO of a major Fortune 100 company. And the board really wants the CEO to position themselves as a thought leader to help the brand. And so for them, it's almost like a marketing expense. 

Lauren: Sure, yeah. 

Matt: They'll pay that $175,000 and in exchange a vanity publisher will basically ghost write the book for the CEO - probably a mixture of ChatGPT and some other freelance writer for the most part - and then do most of the work as well. There's several of them out there that you have to be careful of. I think hybrid publishing is the safest way to go about paying for some culmination of services and or publishing help. Again, if you do your homework, I think you'll come away with a pretty reputable and easy and fun partnership. And. It's certainly what I would do. 

Lauren:  Yeah. I think that if you're looking for like a full service deal here, if you're out there saying like, I want to do the writing part, but I'm not sure about the rest of what all goes into that. Then a hybrid publisher is definitely the path for you. You know, we had a lot of people ask us at London Book Fair about ‘what kind of marketing services do you provide?’ And it was always kind of the answer of, well, we don't because we are a DIY self-publishing print-on-demand company. We don't currently offer any services, but there are places out there that will do that for you. But if you are going more the, you know, I'm going to do this myself, I want to control this whole process myself, I'm not outsourcing it to a hybrid publisher or something like that. You're going with that route, but you do still want to have some professional help with the editing part. There are still ways to do that. And that would be hire a freelance editor. 


Lauren: But before you get there, try to do a little bit of editing on your own. I know we just talked about not self-editing. And I'm going to reiterate that at least for me, I'm saying do not self-edit exclusively, do not self-edit and then rely solely on that. But it is important to do some editing on your own as you're going. And there are a bunch of really, really, really great resources out there that can help you with that. I'm not going to do like an individual breakdown of all of them. We actually have some really, really great blog posts that are reviews of these different types of editing tools. I will absolutely link them in the show notes. Some of the ones that we've reviewed in the past have been: Hemingway Editor, AutoCrit, ProWritingAid and Grammarly. I did - I was checking with our content team manager who is also our blog writer. I definitely just got his job title wrong. I don't, I'm sorry. Sorry, Paul. I don't know what your job title is. 

Matt: You were looking at me, but I wasn't sure if you were looking at me to actually tell you what his title was. Or if you were just going to keep going. 

Lauren: Do you know his title off the top? 

Matt: Of course I know his title off the top of my head. 

Lauren: Yeah, what is it? 

Matt: He's Senior Marketing Manager. 

Lauren: Oh. 

Matt: Or Senior Content Marketing Manager, sorry.

Lauren: All right, so I just made up the word team and forgot the word senior. The point is that our - 

Matt: Lucky for you, I think Paul's going to be upset about you. 

Lauren: I don't, I don't think so either, but I did ask him if he had any input for any other editing tools that he's been looking into that he's been interested in. And one that he has not actually tested yet, so we can't speak definitively on it, but that he is interested in looking into is MasterWriter. So I will drop links to all of those in the show notes, if you want to learn more about them. And then another one that, you know, we just did a whole episode on this, so we won't get too far into this, but using generative AI as an editing tool. There are a couple of different ways that you can do that. You know, you can use it to check as you're going, if you've got, you know, you're not sure about the way you phrased something and you want to see, did I use this correctly? Is this the correct version of this word? Is this phrasing, should this be written differently? You can always drop that into something like ChatGPT and ask it to tell you what's going on there. You can also use it as a sounding board to provide feedback for you. If you want to say like, does this make sense? Can you basically summarize and repeat this back to me to make sure that I got my point across correctly, blah, blah, blah. 

Another tip from Paul was to use your generative AI as a tool to cross-reference editing suggestions, which will then teach you why you made a mistake with something and how you can fix that in the future. Because that is of course, one of the best things about editing is when you go through it and you realize, oh, I keep using the same word incorrectly over and over and over again. Like maybe I need to figure out what that word means and use it correctly in the future. And then that's one less thing you'll have to edit in future manuscripts or future writing projects. I highly recommend using any of those tools. You know, some of them like Grammarly, you can just install right into your browser and have a plug-in there. Some of them are actual software that you are going to write your project within this software and it has the built-in editor in there with you. So depending on the level of engagement you want with that and the level of control that you want over that, there are some great tools out there that you can check out. 

Matt: Yeah, and at some point, hopefully before the end of the year, Lulu's working on building our own manuscript editor into our publishing process. So that'll be a lot of fun too. 

Lauren: Yeah, that'll be really cool. I've seen a demo of it and it's pretty awesome. 


Lauren: So, once you're done with the self-editing part, once you've gotten through the part where you're like, okay, I've cleaned this up as much as I can. I've gotten it to the best place that it can be on my own. Now we've reached a point where we have to - or we should, I'm not going to say have to, but we should - be hiring a professional to take a look. There are a lot of different words out there when you start looking at different kinds of editors. And there doesn't seem to be like a full agreement. This is actually what Matt and I were kind of debating before we started recording this episode, was what exactly the different types of editors are and what the distinctions between them are. But I think the first and foremost is one that everybody can agree on. This is the first kind of editor that will take a look at your project and that is a developmental editor. 

Matt: Or I would say at least, you know, for me and other people listening who are not as formal about it as Lauren is. It's not so much different types of editors, but more editing. 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: Because you know, this first one, she's about to discuss a developmental editor very well could do all of the types of editing that exists, but they just choose to focus on developmental editing, or maybe they offer all different kinds of editing. So I would say it's more about the types of editing versus what type of editor somebody identifies as. And that's where you'll see us start to come into a little bit of not only questioning what some of these types are referred to as, but which ones are absolutely necessary versus which ones aren't. 

Lauren: Yeah, that's a really good point. That's something to keep in mind as you are looking for a freelance editor or freelance editors. If you are trying to keep your costs down and you're trying to say like, okay, I'd like to just hire one person to do this, find somebody that specializes in multiple different types of editing and is willing to do whatever different editing you need. 

Matt: Yeah. And that's also - 

Lauren: Rather than hiring three or four different people. 

Matt: That's right. That's also where if you can find one that you trust and the price is good, that's where a hybrid publisher comes in handy too. A hybrid publisher, I guess I could have said this earlier, is kind of like the general contractor for your home remodeling. The hybrid publisher will line up all of the different subcontractors that you need. So for your home, you need a tile person and you need a drywall person and you need, you know, all these other things. And for a book, you need developmental editing done. You need copy editing done. You need cover design done. And so, if you can afford it and you can find one that's, I guess, that you're comfortable with, that's where a hybrid publisher can really help out.

Lauren: That was a really great analogy that I, an elder millennial who will never own her own home - 

Matt: That’s not true.

Lauren: Will never be able to come up with.

Matt: Well, if you want to, you'll own a home at some point. I'm not saying it's the end all be all, that's for sure. But - 

Lauren: Well, I've got to find somewhere to put all my books. 

Matt: Also a subject for another day. 

Lauren: Anyway, to Matt's point, yes, let me rephrase this maybe, developmental editing and not a developmental editor. Developmental editing is kind of this big picture editing. They're gonna be looking at your overall book, your structure of your book, the content that's included in it, the focus of your book. Does it make sense? Does it flow naturally throughout the whole thing? If it's fiction, obviously there are gonna be different things that they're gonna focus on. If you're writing a novel, we're gonna be looking at things like character and plot development. Does it have a beginning, middle, and an end? Does the beginning make sense, like does where it starts actually feel like the right place to start? Does it end in a way that is satisfying? Are there plot holes or loose ends or are there dead ends within the plot that maybe we don't need this content in it because it doesn't really serve a purpose? Is the pacing all over the place, is the story actually being told… Which does kind of make it all sound like developmental editing is a fiction thing, but it's, it's not. Or I would make the argument, Matt might disagree with me, but I would make the argument that developmental editing is also important for nonfiction writing, depending on what you're writing. But in nonfiction, a developmental editor might instead be looking at things like your outline and your chapter structure and making sure that the order your information is presented in makes sense and that it flows from chapter to chapter in a logical way, that delivers the information to the reader in a way that they'll be able to understand it. Same thing with pacing. It's a different kind of pacing than a fiction novel would be, but there is still pacing necessary in any kind of nonfiction writing. And like your tone and voice, and are you, you know, if you're writing a book that is an entry level introduction to content marketing, you want to make sure that you're writing it in a voice that is accessible to people that don't know what you're talking about or our entry level and that's where developmental editor will come in. 

Matt: I would never disagree with getting as much editing help as you can afford. My caveat here for nonfiction specifically is that if you need to cut out something, if you don't have the money to cover a couple of different types of editing and cover design and some of the other things, and you're really trying to stick to a budget, I do believe that with nonfiction, you could probably get away with not having developmental editing done. But again, the caveat here is that you truly understand whatever it is you're talking about. And if you're writing a book - and we'll go with your example, entry level introduction to content marketing. If you truly understand content marketing and your audience, you should be able to craft an outline and a set of chapters that really follow that concept from start to finish in a way that is cohesive. That is something where I would recommend a tool like ChatGPT, for example, to help you with an outline. And we've talked about this in previous episodes. That's one of the things that ChatGPT is great at is outlines. And then from there, follow that outline with your chapter creations. 

So I would never say if you can afford it, don't get every bit of editing help you can get. Absolutely. But I do think that if you're trying to cut some costs and you're writing nonfiction, developmental editing is one of those areas where you could probably take a break. And you can send all the hate mail you want to me. But I will maintain that I still think you can put out a good piece of nonfiction content relying heavily on your copy editor, your proofreader, and your designer. 

Lauren: I don't disagree. I don't disagree, but - and there is a but to this - I do think that it's still important to have somebody read your book for big picture. 

Matt: Sure. 

Lauren: So it doesn't necessarily have to be somebody that you are paying a premium as a developmental editor. But maybe if that's the step you're going to skip, maybe instead you need one extra beta reader. 

Matt: Exactly.

Lauren: Who's gonna read for you. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: You're gonna want somebody who's gonna say, hey, you know, I'm not super familiar with this concept - which is actually a great thing, especially if you're writing nonfiction. Like you want at least one reader who's going to read your book that has no idea what you're talking about in it, 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Because you wanna know where the holes are. 

Matt: They should also not have any skin in the game. 

Lauren: That - yes.

Matt: And so it's all fine and good to have beta readers that are friends and family, of course, colleagues, yes, but try to find a beta reader too that doesn't know a lot about the subject you're writing about and also doesn't have any skin in the game.

Lauren: Right.

Matt: Whether you're successful with this book or not, and you will get the most objective feedback you could possibly get.

Lauren: Even if it's something as simple as like, hey, you know, you mentioned this idea in chapter two that I didn't really understand, but then you explained it very thoroughly in chapter five, and I think that maybe you should switch those two chapters so that I have a firm understanding of it before I get to it. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: And then it's like, you know, everything just flows that much better. That will be my caveat in agreeing with Matt that you could probably do without a developmental editor if you are writing nonfiction, but you do still want somebody to get a big picture look at your book. So if it's not a developmental editor, make sure that you're finding some early beta readers that can help you out with that.

Matt: Yeah. And again, this is primarily nonfiction because with fiction, you're going to have beta readers too, but they're really, primarily, they're just gonna read your book and tell you if it was a good book or not. 

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: You know what I mean, like. You can ask them to pay attention to the actual mechanics of your book plot development and all those other things. But unless your beta readers also qualify as professional editors and people who do this for a living - which most of the time they won't be - they're just going to tell you, yeah, it was a great book. It kept me reading the whole time or I was all right. Not your best work, but it'll do. So with nonfiction, it's usually a little bit different because the goal of nonfiction is most often to teach somebody something. And so inherently you get back a different type of feedback - 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: With beta readers. 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: Yeah. 


Lauren: All right. We don't need to prolong this, so.

Matt: We don't have time to prolong it as much as you'd like to.

Lauren: That’s true.

Matt: I can see it in your face. 

Lauren: I can talk about this all day. 

Matt: We should move on and talk about the next type of edit, the next most important type of editing. 

Lauren: Okay, we can do that. If you are going to go the route of multiple editors or if you are definitely going to work with a developmental editor, that is usually the first thing that you're going to want to do because you want to have most, if not all of your writing done before you start working with a line editor and or a copy editor. Get your content where you want it to be, get your writing 99% finished, and now you're gonna have a line editor and or a copy editor look at your work for you. 

Matt: Well, I'm hoping you're gonna explain the difference between the two because I definitely don't understand the difference between the two. 

Lauren: I think that a lot of people don't. I think that's pretty normal. I also - there's every chance that I'm gonna explain these right now, and somebody is gonna shoot us an email and be like ‘hey, you actually are wrong about that.’

Matt: For sure. 

Lauren: So I will try. My understanding of the difference between a line editor and a copy editor is that a line editor is going to do a close reading of your writing and how it impacts your content. So it's going to be stuff like how your word choice is impacting the overall tone of your voice. Whether you chose the right words, are you writing in a passive voice or in an active voice? What tense are you writing in? What POV are you writing in if you're, you know - and this is also applicable to nonfiction because you are still writing in like a point of view when you're writing nonfiction. I feel like that's something that people don't always realize. But anyway, that's beside the point. They're going to be looking at details like your accessibility. Is it - if you're writing a book for middle grade readers, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, is it accessible to people that age? Is it a higher reading level, a lower reading level, anything like that? So a line editor is going to be looking at line by line, not the big picture the way that the developmental editor would, but looking at a line by line close reading of your content, but they're looking more at how your writing choices are impacting the content of the book overall. 

A copy editor, on the other hand, does not care about your word choices, does not care about how you are telling the story that you're telling. They are looking at the very specific details like your grammar, your punctuation, they care about your word choice only so far as whether or not you chose the correct word or used the correct word. They're going to be the ones coming in and saying you use the wrong form of there here - 

Matt: Or past. 

Lauren: I was going to say you can use the wrong form of past here. It's fine. I clearly would need a copy editor if I was self-publishing a book. But yes, that's - as far as I understand, that's the distinction between them, is that a line editor is looking at how your writing and stylistic choices are impacting the actual content of your book and a copy editor is looking at specifically the factual rules the grammar choices the punctuation the word usage and things like that.

Matt: That makes sense. I think at least from what I've seen line editing is much more similar to developmental editing on the spectrum of editing than it is copy editing. And so when you look at different organizations or hybrid publishing companies or freelance editors, for example, you very rarely see both of these offered. What I'm finding is you'll either find where developmental editing is offered, copy editing, and then proofreading. And sometimes proofreading is bundled with copy editing for pricing, which is great. Or other times you'll see developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading where it seems like the copy editing is folded into a little bit of the line editing and then a bunch of the proofreading. And then there are a few instances where you'll see both offered. 

And I think that's actually where it gets most confusing when both are offered. I actually like it where line editing is kind of absorbed and you're dealing with development editing, copy editing and proofreading. But nonetheless, I mean, everybody has their way of doing it, so. But for everybody listening, just know that there are times where you'll see both of these offered. There are times where you only see one of these offered. Hopefully we've done a good job of helping you understand kind of what the difference is, but just know that if line editing is not officially offered, it doesn't mean that it's not being done, it just means that it may be getting done by the developmental editor, or that it may be getting done by the copy editor. 

So I think that's really important to point out because again, I don't think even in the industry of editing, like it's just not always 100% clear. And the only place I've ever found suggested pricing ranges for both of these types of editing, in conjunction with developmental editing, is on the EFA pricing spreadsheet. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: And I have the newest one on my laptop right now, and it is broken out for people there, but it doesn't make it any less confusing, in my opinion, to be honest with you. And in fact, it just seems like it adds quite a bit more cost to your project. I would definitely make sure you're comfortable with all of these types of editing and you kind of figure out what's best for you. Most editors, by the way - or organizations that do editing - most of them offer, um, what's called an editorial assessment where you can pay a certain amount of money and they'll go through your manuscript and they'll kind of guide you into what's best for your project, which types of editing you need, all those kinds of things. So if you can afford it, and again, if you find somebody that you trust, that you're comfortable working with, I would start with an editorial assessment, if you're not sure. And then in other cases, you may be sure what type of editing you want, and that's okay too, just plow forward. 

Lauren: Which is another great argument in favor of doing some self-editing before you contract out, whether it's a hybrid publisher, editorial service provider, or just a freelance editor of one kind. If you want to try to keep those costs down as much as possible, the more editing that you do on your own ahead of time, the less professional editing - in theory, hopefully - the less professional editing you'll need to pay for. A lot of editors also, a lot of freelance editors bill by the hour. So that's something to keep in mind too, when you're handing over a project, if it is in draft one shape, it's going to need a lot more time than if it's in draft five shape and now you just need somebody to kind of help you clean up that last little bit of it. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: But yeah, to Matt's point about copy editors and line editors and all of that different, I completely agree. If it was me, and we can debate this if you want, if I was ranking the three different types of editorial services that we've just described in order of most important to least necessary, absolutely number one would be a copy editor for me. I think that's - if you were gonna pay for one kind of editor, it should be a copy editor. I would put developmental at two and line editing at number three, because I do think that line editing inherently gets done by one of the other two, just in the nature of it being done. I would agree that I don't think you need to do all three of them. 

Matt: Yeah, and in a rare turn of events, I think I agree with you. 

Lauren: Wow. Wow, we're having a big episode here. I'd also like to point out that earlier, it was Matt that said you have to research your hybrid publishers or publishing services before working with any of them instead of me. I'm always the one that's advocating for doing your homework.

Matt: That makes it sound like I'm pretty loose and fast with the wallet and… while that might be true for anything Disney related or tattoos, it is not so much true for something like this. I definitely think well, and I guess honestly it's sad, but lately, especially with the advent of AI and ChatGPT types of tools that are out there, we've seen an influx just in the last six months of people, organizations, whatever you want to call them that are just spending up these fake publishing services companies. And they're basically taking money from you. And if they deliver anything at all, it's been completely run through ChatGPT in like 15 seconds. And most of the time they're just advertising publishing services for a price that probably sounds a little too good to be true. They're doing things like asking for credit cards over the phone and stuff like that. And unfortunately people are falling for it. You do have to do your research when you're looking for a hybrid publisher, but nonetheless, there are reputable ones out there. There are good ones to be found and to be used. There are some on the Lulu website under our resources tab. We work with several of them. And there's a new one that's launching in April called Tilt Publishing that will also be very reputable. I happen to know the people putting it together - 

Lauren: Oh yeah, me too. 

Matt: And doing all the work behind the scenes. So they're out there and they're affordable. You know, I'll highlight a few more to be fair. There's one called Limelight Publishing and Lynette Greenfield runs that one. And one of the most reputable people I know, one of the most trustworthy people I know, very affordable. They do great work. Gatekeeper Press is another good one. Uh, and there's a few more out there. Again, you can find them on the Lulu site. 

In my opinion, again, for anybody who has ever done remodeling on their home or something like that, following that sort of general contractor route just always seems easier if you can afford it. It's just, it's that much more time freed up in your day to do what you want to do. And at the end, you know, you've got a professionally edited and designed and formatted book.

Lauren: Yeah. I really think that we've done a lot of work over the different episodes that we've done here in talking about why this is valuable. But just in case we haven't like really hammered that point home here in this episode: it is worth it. You put so much work into this book. You're writing this for a purpose, right? Like there's a reason that you decided that you want to write a book and publish a book, whether it's because you have a story that you think is very important to tell or because you have a story that you just have to get out of you and you want to share with the world or because you are trying to grow your brand or your business or you know, whatever, whatever it is, there's a reason that you're making this book. There's a reason that you're doing all this work. This is not the place to phone it in. Like this is not where you're cutting corners when it comes to something like editorial services, publishing services. You know, we're going to talk very soon about things like cover design and interior formatting and the importance of presentation. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: And this goes hand in hand with that, absolutely. Editorial services are worth every penny and you want people to read the book that you're writing and if they can't read it, they're not going to.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, especially if it's not an established audience, but presumably everybody is working to build their own audience, obviously, and everybody out there is going to be in various stages of it, but even if you just think about the shelf factor, I mean, a good cover is what's going to sell your book. A good story, a well-written book is what's going to bring them back to buy more from you. So they'll fall for your really nice cover once.

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: But if you basically give them a crappy book to read inside those covers, they're never coming back. 

Lauren: Yeah. You know, I was actually having this conversation with one of my best friends like a week ago because I read a book on the plane on the way back from London that had been on both of our TBRs for a while - To Be Read list - and she asked me about it. She asked me how it was. And I said, you know, honestly, I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't been reading it on a plane because I was on a flight that didn't have any wifi and I didn't have any backup books with me. This was the only one that I had available. And the first chapter, I was so put off by the writing and like the tone of voice that was being used. And if I had been in a place where I had other options available to me, I would have put it down and never picked it back up again. And by the end of it, I was ugly crying on the plane in public because I was so wrapped up in the story and so invested in it that it like totally sucked me in and it got me and I really liked the book in the end. But that first chapter, that first impression almost like completely turned me off from it. And it was a self-published book or an indie published book. And I am curious to see like how much editing went into it and how it would have been different with a little bit more editing and how it could have been different.

Matt: Do I know this book or this person? 

Lauren: No, no, no, you don't. It's not, it's not a book by a Lulu Author. But you don't ever want your readers to be in that position. You don't ever want your readers to be in a position where they say, I only read your book because I was stuck with it and I didn't have any other options. And eventually I got into the story enough that I overlooked these other things. But that's where an editor probably would have been really great to come in and be like, hey, you know, let's tone down the aggression in this first chapter a little bit and ease them more into this kind of voice or something like that. Like maybe that would have made all the difference in the world. But who knows? You never know. 


Matt: So after those main types of editing, there's a few other things that need to happen, or often happen. What are some of those other types of things, those activities that can or should happen? 

Lauren: I'm not sure what you're setting me up for here. 

Matt: Sensitivity readers? 

Lauren: Oh yeah. Okay. 

Matt: The beta reader process? 

Lauren: Yeah. Yeah. So, okay. Okay. So once you're done with your formal editing, there are definitely some things that - 

Matt: Welcome to today's show, everybody. Today we'll be talking about the different types of editing, as well as some of the post editing activities. Joining us today, I believe is my co-host Lauren Vassallo. 

Lauren: Unclear whether or not she's actually in the room with us right now. 

Matt: To be fair, she's carried this whole episode, but you know.

Lauren: It's fine. 

Matt: Yes. It's all right. Some of the post-editing activities.

Lauren: I'm here. Okay, so yes, once you're done working with your professional editor or editors or whatever you choose to do, there are still a few more people that you can work with. Matt has already mentioned proofreaders. So proofreader - not a whole lot different than a copy editor. They are really just there to kind of give it that one last final look. Just a quick, like, I'm not here to work on developmental editing or copy editing or line editing or any of those other things. Just kind of to be one last set of eyes on this and make sure that everything looks good. 

Matt: Yeah, theoretically, once a proofreader has gone through it and submits any necessary changes back to the author or the publisher, whoever they're working directly with. That technically should be the last pass at it.

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: and it should be ready to be formatted into print and ebook option or whatever it is you're doing. So proofreader is important. Absolutely. 

Lauren: Yeah. And that is, I mean, at least one of the times that I've been asked to proofread books has been proofreading the finished PDF. Like this is literally the last round of the only changes that we are making to this unless we absolutely have to or like, ‘hey, there's a comma missing from there’ or ‘hey, this word was supposed to be italicized as part of the book title and it's not’ kind of details. So very, very last thing on the list. Always worth having. It's always worth having the last set of eyes look at your book before it goes public, which is also where we're going to bring back beta readers again. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: If you're not familiar with the concept, pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You want at least a couple of people to get eyes on your book before it is officially published. So beta readers are great for that. It's definitely going to be like a less formal version of an editor. And we've talked about this in other episodes. None of this is new information, but beta readers are great, this is a great time to tap in. Maybe not your mom, maybe not like your best friend who is your number one champion and cheerleader and is going to tell you that you are perfect in all ways. But somebody else that is a professional in your community, somebody else that you know that is also working on a book at the same time, whether it's a different genre, the same genre as you, somebody that you know through networking. We've talked about this in the context of it's a great way to build your author network, is to connect with other people that are writing at the same time or other people that work in your specific field that will be able to have some input into your book or some insight into your book. So beta readers are a great way to do that.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: And then the last one that Matt mentioned was sensitivity readers, fairly new development in the grand scheme of publishing. But definitely worth at least considering as another set of eyes on your book. And a sensitivity reader is really going to be in there to see if any representation that is taking place in your book is, is being done so in like a thoughtful and appropriate kind of way. And that's not necessarily limited to fiction. I was thinking about this earlier as we were planning out this episode. And I think a lot of people think about sensitivity readers as, oh, if I am a White woman who is writing a book that has Black male characters in it, like I wanna have a sensitivity reader read it to make sure that I am not being, not - don't have any microaggressions in here that I wasn't aware of or something like that. And that is true. And that is like a great opportunity for a sensitivity reader. But it can also be something as simple as like, if you're writing nonfiction and you're writing up a case study that was done about a specific group of people and you wanna have somebody look at it and say like, hey, you know, this word isn't really the word that we use to describe that group of people anymore, you'd be probably better off using this language instead. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Something as simple as that. So that is another end, just another way to have yet another set of eyes look at your book. 

Matt: That's true.

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: Good. 

Lauren: So just some other things to keep in mind as additional options for editors. 

Matt: More options.

Lauren: More, more editing, even more editing, which is the perfect way to close this out. 


Matt: Well, yeah, I feel like we'd be remiss not to give Paul's editing tip. 

Lauren: Mmhmm. I do love his. So I did... I wanted to close this episode out with a couple of our favorite editing tips. And while I was asking our Senior Content Marketing Manager? 

Matt: Mmhmm.

Lauren: For any of his editorial software tools or any of his recommendations. I also asked him if he had any editing tips he wanted to impart. Do you want to read it? 

Matt: No, go right ahead. 

Lauren: His direct response to me was “for the love of Baby Jesus, use the Oxford comma.” Which is also a hill that I'm willing to die on. 

Matt: Well, I think it's funny. That's one of the only things where whether you use it or not, you're right. It's not incorrect. 

Lauren: I know.

Matt: It's verifiably okay to either use the Oxford comma or do not use the Oxford comma. I think what's more important is that you just do it consistently. So if you're gonna use an Oxford comma in one paragraph, use it in every paragraph. And for those of you that don't know what we're talking about, the Oxford comma is the last comma in a list of things that comes before the word and. Some people use the Oxford comma where there's a comma that will come right before the word ‘and’ and the last word in that list of things. And some people think that because the word and is there, they don't need the comma there and they are also correct. Lauren and Paul would have you believe if you do not use the Oxford comma there in front of the word and, you should be tied up by the heels, upside down, and flogged publicly. But it is - 

Lauren: I don't know about a full flogging. 

Matt: Okay.

Lauren: Maybe just the tied up by your heels part. 

Matt: While I love Paul's quote, I just wanted to be the devil's advocate here and say, you can do either, just be consistent. I think that's more important. 

Lauren: Yes. Which it was actually, Matt doesn't know this because I didn't put it in the outline like this. That was his actual advice. After he - after he gave me the quote about the Oxford comma, he said that his actual tip that he wanted to share was stylistic consistency. So if you're choosing to use the Oxford comma, like Matt just said, use it throughout the whole book. If you're breaking rules, be consistent with how you break rules. If you are doing something like - writing choices as simple as, or stylistic formatting choices as simple as… when you are referencing titles of books in something, it is appropriate to either underline that title or to italicize the title, as long as you choose some way to format to indicate that this is the title of a book. Pick one and be consistent with that throughout your entire book. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: And then my two favorite tips, just to throw those out there, are to edit with a pen and paper, print it out, order an editing copy of your book, and mark it up, write all over it. Matt, very early in this episode, referenced the multitude of red pens that I own. Personally, I prefer to edit in pink or purple pen, but you know, that's fine. Red pen is so aggressive. It makes me think of like doing bad on a math test when I was in high school, but whatever. 

Matt: Okay. 

Lauren: Purple is great for editing. 

Matt: Sure.

Lauren: I had no influence on the podcast cover art. 

Matt: I'm sure at this point, everybody believes that statement. 

Lauren: And then my other absolute favorite editing tip is to read your writing out loud. It works.

Matt: Both good tips. I agree.

Lauren: So yeah, hopefully we provided something valuable in all of that. I feel like I just blacked out for the last hour, which is also how I felt the last time that I did a public presentation for Lulu on different types of editing and how to get them done, which was a webinar that we did like four years ago that I have no memory of doing, but there is a video recording of it. So I guess I'll link that in the show notes. 

Matt: Oh my god.

Lauren: If you want another example of me rambling for 45 minutes about editors and having no memory of having done so once over. If you want to go check that out, you can. And in the meantime, we'll be here and we'll be back next week with a new episode.

Matt: Yep. And email us if you want to tell us whether or not you use the Oxford comma or not podcast at  

Lauren: Thanks for listening everyone.