The Book Publishing Journey: An Editor’s Role

By Andrea Susan Glass

As a copyeditor, if your primary clients are book authors, you might enjoy learning about—or re-acquainting yourself with—the publishing journey from start to finish. Not everyone takes the same journey, and not all authors end up at the same place, so this journey is based on this editor’s experiences with her clients and her own books.

As a book coach I often work with clients from the start of their idea or the first draft of their book. If just at the idea stage, I task the new author with creating an outline/table of contents to begin the writing process. I use a series of questions to help determine the author’s goal for writing the book and the outcome for the ideal reader of the book. I also like to help the author clarify their objective/strategy for where the book fits into their life/business.

At this point, the author has the option of contracting a developmental editor if they need help with the structure of the book. As a book coach—and editor—I often double up as coach and developmental editor.

I may or may not review the manuscript during the writing process; however, I do offer accountability meetings and suggest the author find another author to share accountability if it’s not me. Once the author has finished the writing process and done a number of self-edits, it’s often at this point that beta readers are assigned the task of offering critique and feedback—and editing if they want, although they are advised that they’re getting an unedited manuscript.

When I assigned 10 beta readers to review my first book, I was amazed at the honest, helpful feedback I received. I proceeded to do several re-writes which improved my book greatly.

Now it’s time for the copy editor to arrive on the scene. The author has incorporated feedback and self-edited to the point of needing a professional copy editor. Once the editor is done, the author now has the option of sending the manuscript to advance reviewers. The purpose of this part of the journey is to get some last minute feedback, perhaps pick up a few errors, and ultimately get Amazon reviews (or for other selling platforms if more than just Amazon.)

I asked each reviewer to email me the review, and I would email it back to them with the link to my book when it was published, since there would be a time lag between receiving all the reviews and having the book go live. My goal was to launch with 10 reviews, which I did. I would estimate about 70% of my advance reviewers left reviews for me, so I felt that was a great response.

Before publishing a book, it needs to be formatted, whether for an ebook, print book, or both. Some authors may choose to utilize the services of a proofreader, another role many editors perform. Proofreading is the last chance to make sure the manuscript is ready for publication.

And yet another part the editor can play in this publishing journey is to edit the Amazon book description and the back cover copy if the author is doing a print book. Any author who is self-publishing wants to be taken seriously and produce as good a quality book as those of traditional publishers. That’s the type of expertise copy editors provide.

The editor’s role in the publishing journey is now over for the most part. However, an editor can still be called upon to edit marketing copy such as press releases, blog posts, interviews, and articles. Authors have a myriad of ways to promote books these days, and editors can find many ways to help an indie author succeed.

It’s always great when blog readers are able to comment, so I invite you to do so. Please post your comment about what role you play or have played in the book publishing process: developmental or copy editor, proofreader, other?

Also, a quick reminder that any SD/PEN member is invited to submit a blog post. We’d love to hear your voice. You may write about anything of interest to editors such as how you work with clients, how you find clients, and what have you learned that you would pass on to new editors. Send your blog post (around 500 words) to We look forward to hearing from you!

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