10 ways a book editor can help besides editing

An editor can give you a hand out of all sorts of tight spots in your book’s development, not just writing and editing. A seasoned outside eye can help you smooth out story issues before you start writing or help you sell your novel effectively once you’ve finished.

Not sure you’re on the right track? Your book editor may have exactly the service or expertise you need.

Reasons to consult an editor

Book editor

When you need seasoned advice on how to proceed with your book’s development, try asking an editor.

1. When your story’s not working, but you can’t put your finger on why. A manuscript critique (also often called a manuscript evaluation) from a developmental editor will help you figure out where the problem lies. My Plot Accelerator service teaches you how to build strong stories from the start and then spot story issues on your own.

2. When you’re not sure your concept is strong enough to support a novel. A Plot Accelerator will show if you’ve lined up the right ingredients in the right proportions to create a compelling story.

3. If you’ve never written fiction before. Most editors offer some sort of super-short edit you can use to help get your feet underneath yourself. A short substantive edit (like my Mini Edit) can help you learn the ropes of fiction narrative technique.

4. If you want to lower your editing rates. Here’s another smart option for the DIYers. Use a Mini Edit or similarly short edit to show you how to target your most common writing issues and clean up your manuscript before a line edit or copyedit. If you’re confident in your ability to apply feedback to the rest of your manuscript, you may be able to considerably lower your final editing costs.

5. To get the faster writing times that come with writing from a solid outline. A Plot Accelerator or coaching can help you block out the basic character motivations, story conflict, and turning points of your story before you get started.

6. If you want to learn what makes a good story tick. A developmental edit becomes a rich learning experience when you approach it with a growth mindset. Many editors also offer classes and coaching to help you master the craft of storytelling.

When you don’t know where to turn next, ask your editor.

7. When you need help writing a back cover blurb and marketing copy that sells. Editors often offer writing or editing services for cover blurbs and other marketing copy. My Blurb Accelerator shows you how to write everything you need to sell your book, then helps you add zing; available only to established clients.

8. When you need help writing a query letter or synopsis for submission to an agent. How do you write a query letter to an agent? Editors often offer query writing, editing, or critique services. My Query Accelerator is a DIY mini-course bundled with critique and feedback. You’ll learn effective query tactics and get help preparing a professional submission package that will attract the right kind of attention from agents; available only to established clients.

9. When your beta readers, volunteer proofreaders, ARC reviewers, or other readers raise issues you’re not certain about. Your editor has brought a host of professional guidelines and experience to bear on the stylistic decisions that have gone into the editing of your book. Before you make wholesale changes based on the opinions of volunteers and other nonprofessionals who may be helping out, double-check with your editor to make sure you’re not introducing new issues.

10. When you need a referral or a resource for another publishing-related issue. While some editors take a production-oriented, in-and-out sort of approach, many are happy to offer a quick bit of direction to established clients. When you don’t know where to turn next, ask your editor. They can refer you to a trusted colleague or direct you to a reputable publishing professional, organization, or service that can help.

Read more: Your next steps—publishing resources for authors 


Lisa Poisso, Editor & Story CoachLooking for an editor for your novel? That editor could be me! Take a look at the ways I can help you with your book, and let’s talk about working together on your upcoming novel.