Non-fiction Book Editing

My process for editing non-fiction books is perhaps a little different to other editors. I’ve explained that process below as it will help you decide whether I’m the best editor for your particular non-fiction book project.

Step 1 – Manuscript Read

Experience has taught me that it’s impossible to determine where a book is at and how much work is required to get it publication-ready unless I’ve done a manuscript read first.

That’s why this is a compulsory ‘first step’ in my process.

It costs $150AUD per 10,000 words.

Once I’ve done the manuscript read, I can offer clear guidance as to the next steps. For most manuscripts, the next step is usually a structural edit.

Step 2a – High-pass Structural Edit

Not all books require this edit. It usually comes into play when a manuscript isn’t quite finished or doesn’t deliver on the promise the title is making.

In this edit, I take a 10,000-foot view of your book and:

  • Make comments throughout the manuscript about things that require clarification or expansion
  • Point out any gaps that need to be filled in order to ensure your book is delivering on the promise it’s making to the reader in the title.

After this edit, you will revisit your manuscript to action my feedback (by performing your own edits and perhaps doing some more writing/re-writing).

A high-pass structural edit costs $500AUD.

Once you’ve completed your edits and re-writes, your manuscript will usually be ready for a granular structural edit (see below).

Step 2b – Granular Structural Edit

This kind of structural edit suits a manuscript that is at the ‘very very solid’ stage (usually the point where you – the writer – have been through the manuscript a few times already, and feel you’ve done all you can to make it as good as it can be).

In a granular structural edit, I go through the entire manuscript and:

  • Clean up every transition (between paragraphs, sections and chapters)
  • Ensure the chapter headings, in-chapter headings and sub-headings all make sense and are ‘scannable’
  • Move information around (if necessary) to ensure the book reads smoothly and delivers your idea to the reader in the most logical and satisfactory way possible.

A granular structural edit costs 4c per word.

Important note – a granular structural edit is not a line edit/copy edit (although I will do some line editing as I work through the manuscript). The next two editing sections below are essential to the process of producing a publication-ready manuscript. But I do not do these forms of editing. I name my preferred providers for these edits below.

Step 3 – Line edit

Have you ever read a book that you would call an ‘easy read’? That book probably had exceptional line editing done on it.

A line edit is where an editor goes through the manuscript, literally line by line, and makes changes that maximise clarity while retaining the author’s ‘voice’. The editor might split up long sentences into two. They might reword things that are phrased awkwardly. Anything that can potentially stop the reader in their tracks and make them scratch their head and think, ‘that doesn’t really make sense’ – the line editor takes care of those things.

Line editing is a very different skill to structural editing. And because structural editing is my particular strength, I stay right away from line editing and instead recommend the peerless Bill Harper.

Expect to pay $3000-4000 for the line edit of a book up to 50,000 words.

Step 4 – Proofreading

This final step in the editing process is best done after your book has been designed. Why? Because formatting errors and other weird errors can happen in the design phase of a book, errors a proofreader will pick up.

I recommend Kym Campradt for proofreads.

Expect to pay $800-1000 for the proofread of a book up to 50,000 words.