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Let’s Talk About Timing

marie-valentineHow long will it take to edit your book? Consider your expectations as author 

by Marie Valentine, editor and proofreader

Just as your story arc took time to develop and come to fruition, so too does a copy edit from your editor.

Don’t be surprised if you have to wait a few weeks or months to get on a professional editor’s schedule. To get the editor you want, you might have to exercise some flexibility on timing.


Editors who have immediate openings are rare because people need to plan. A few editing services offer rapid turnaround on papers or shorter works. Can you check the credentials of the person who is editing your writing? These “editing mills” offload work to first-come first-serve editors who may be nameless and thus unreachable for queries, kudos or accountability for poorly done work.

Some editors work on multiple projects at a time and can allot less than forty hours a week toward your manuscript. Others may prefer to work on one project at a time, with full-time schedules to fill, so they can finish the work in fewer days. Still, most pro editors schedule their work a few weeks or months out.

Also important to note, we can proofread some material, such as articles, poems and short stories, in a short time span, but deeper substantive edits for a novel can take weeks. A swift proofread from a skilled editor is a different animal than an intensive developmental edit, which may require back and forth between the writer and editor, and even revisions of revisions, which can stretch out your project’s scope and timeframe.

How in-depth do you want your edit to be? Are you willing to consider that you might need big rewrites or additions after your editor had been through it? Or will you be going straight to the publisher with the manuscript for printing?

Some revision work on the author’s end will be required once the edit is completed, so be prepared to accept or reject revisions, do rewrites as needed and schedule that time into your projections.

Marie Valentine is a fiction and memoir editor who prefers to edit one manuscript at a time.

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