An Editor’s Response to a Request to Edit

This is part 11 of my series on “An Editor’s Comments.” These are actual comments I’ve made to clients, and are directed to their particular needs, so they are sometimes quite different than what you’ll find in a style manual or other editing book. I hope you’ll find these thoughts helpful! If you want to learn more, check out the rest of the articles in the “Editor’s Comments” section and the “Various Editor’s Tips” section in my “Writing and Editing Articles” table of contents.

Greetings! I understand you have a novel you are interested in having me edit.

Could you provide me with some information, please? It will help me determine if I can help you:

  • The length of the novel (number of words)
  • The genre (example: fantasy, crime, adventure, etc.)
  • When you need it edited by
  • What kind of edit you are looking for–an overall read of the full manuscript, with suggestions on how to improve the storyline, characterization, and other major issues; or a chapter by chapter edit (in which I edit one chapter at a time, then you make suitable changes to that chapter–and to any other chapters before sending them to me); a line edit, in which I help you with grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, etc.; or, if you feel your work is also really well done and just requires a check for minor errors, a proofread.

As for costs, I charge $__/hour.* The way I calculate the number of hours is to have you send me the first 10 pages or so of your novel (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12). I will edit it for free for one hour. This way, you can see what my editing work is like, and decide if you want me to edit. For myself, I can make sure that it is the kind of novel I can edit well. Editors specialize in different kinds of novels so if it happens to be something that I know someone else could do better, I could refer you to a person who could do it better than I can.

Also, it will help me determine how many hours it would take for me to do the full novel (which is why I need to know the total words). Then I can give you a reasonable estimate.

If I see that there are certain kinds of errors that are being frequently repeated, I can explain to you how to fix them—and then you can (if you wish) go through the manuscript before I edit, and make those kinds of corrections. This means I have less editing to do; you will have learned some self-editing skills; and you will save yourself some money, too.

On the other hand, if I feel that your manuscript is not yet ready for editing, I will explain the reasons, and what you should do before paying for an edit.

If this information interests you, feel free to contact me again and send me the first few pages and I will do the free sample edit and give you an estimate.  Also, include any questions you may have. Once the sample edit is done, we can create a written contract.

*Note: My rate depends on the type of editing. For example, a simple proofread would have a different rate than an edit which requires much commenting and explaining.


While this is generally the type of response you can expect from me, other editors may have different approaches.

What do you think of this approach? If you were looking for an editor, what else would you want to know? Please share your thoughts in the comments! Thank you!

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