Professional book editors are an author’s secret weapon. A great editor can transform a manuscript, catching errors, poor organization, and sloppy writing while helping to bring out the strongest ideas that are sometimes left hiding between the pages.

But that’s only true of great editors. So the question is obvious: how do you choose a book editor who can help you make your book the best it can be? Unfortunately, there are so many manuscript editing services out there—including numerous self-publishing editing services—that it’s easy to get overwhelmed or make the wrong choice.

To avoid that, here’s a quick guide to help you understand what professional book editors can do for you and how to choose the editing service that’s right for your book.

What Makes a Great Book Editor?

To understand what top book editing services can do for you and the value of top-shelf professional book editors, we have to start with an explanation of what book editors actually do.

Professional book editors can perform many different functions for your manuscript, depending on your needs. We have a whole article that goes over the types of editing more extensively, but briefly, there are six ways an editor can improve your manuscript:

  • Developmental Editing: This is a big-picture edit early in the writing process that helps you structure your ideas in the best possible way.
  • Evaluation Editing: Essentially, this is a manuscript appraisal, reviewing organization and the flow of ideas at a high level once you have everything on the page.
  • Content Editing: A middle point between the word-focused line edit and big-picture developmental and evaluation editing, in this case, the editor digs into the actual writing with a focus on organization on a paragraph-by-paragraph and section-by-section basis.
  • Line Editing: Organizing concepts is no longer the aim; here, the editor focuses sentence by sentence and word by word to make the most of the language on the page.
  • Copyediting: Once you have a completed manuscript, the copyeditor is there to catch any errors left in grammar, punctuation, or style.
  • Proofreading: With the manuscript ready to go to print, the proofreader catches any remaining issues before you hit “publish.”

There are a lot of ways manuscript editing services can improve your book—and often, different editors specialize in one form of editing or another (as well as one genre of writing or another). Luckily, no matter what type of editing you need, the same qualities are required of top professional book editors. Any book editor you work with should have the same qualities:

  • Significant experience, particularly with manuscripts in your genre
  • Clarity in their suggested changes
  • Open and frequent communication
  • The skill to actually improve your manuscript.

You’ll want to check the book editor qualifications of any service you work for to make sure they have the means to provide the editing you need.

Top Professional Book Editors and Their Specialties

With a better sense of what a book editor could do for your book, let’s consider some of the top manuscript editing services out there today.


Not to brag, but we’ve been the gold standard for editing for many years now. The great thing about Scribe is that it houses some of the top editors with a wide array of specializations all under one roof. Scribe also offers all types of editing. Unlike with some of the other services we’ll cover below, you can really get whatever kind of editing help you need at Scribe.

One of Scribe’s strongest editing options is the guided author service. Here, a book coach can offer an evaluation edit and content editing full of editing tips for the author that can transform their book. You’ll also get proofreading services, along with an incredible cover, marketing, and publication of your book—all in one product.

Other Scribe services, such as Scribe Professional and Scribe Elite include what is essentially a developmental edit early in the process.

Scribe has worked with thousands of authors and seen dozens of our books reach the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Whatever self-publishing editing you need, if you’re writing a nonfiction book or a memoir, Scribe has everything at the highest possible level.

Editor World

That doesn’t mean Scribe is right for everyone. Editor World offers services based on a quick turnaround model. The company has been around since 2010 and, like Scribe, has worked with thousands of authors. However, it can offer its speedy services with limited delay because the company specializes in proofreading manuscripts. The big-picture types of editing that can improve the organization of your ideas are off the table.

On the plus side, Editor World offers its services on a wider variety of writing than Scribe, including fiction, academic writing, and editing for nonnative English speakers.


BookBaby has a slightly more extensive set of editing options than Editor World and similarly quick (though slightly longer) deadlines. It also claims to have worked with an eye-watering fifty thousand authors. Unlike Editor World, BookBaby offers line editing. The company also does some marketing and will help you put your book out. However, once again, if you need more extensive, high-level editing for your book, that’s not really on the table here.

Also like Editor World, BookBaby works with both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. So if you need a little help on pacing in your novel, this is a great option for you.


For you students and academics out there, Scribbr deserves real consideration for your editing. Its focus is on copyediting and proofreading for academic writing, and its services include help with citations and avoiding plagiarism. Scribbr also offers an AI detection tool, so if you’ve been using ChatGPT in early drafts, this can help you scrub any content that isn’t yours before you submit.

If you’re working on your dissertation, you might want to make a stopover at Scribbr before you submit it to your school.

Choosing the Right Editor for Your Book

These aren’t the only services out there, of course, but they represent some of the best professional book editors. To choose the service that’s right for you, you can start by narrowing down those that don’t apply. If you’re working in fiction, Scribe and Scribbr are obviously not going to be a good fit. If you are writing your memoirs after a long career in real estate, you don’t need an academic service.

From there, think about the kind of editing you need, as well as the costs and timelines you’re working on. Scribe offers deeper, more extensive editing services, but for that reason, it is also more expensive than some editing services and can take a little longer. BookBaby and Editor World offer faster service at lower prices, but you sacrifice the expert advice you may need on those more complex issues.

Reviews and Testimonials from Authors

Despite all the competition, we here at Scribe are pretty confident we offer the best editing services out there. The proof is in our stories. We have posted dozens of author success stories that show just how far great editing and writing assistance can take your ideas.

Consider the story of Nikki Barua, who didn’t know how to get her book started. Through some excellent developmental editing at Scribe, she published a book that reached thousands of readers and increased the inbound leads at her business by 2,500 percent. Or look at Brian Reese, who really needed an expert to help him through the process of writing his book that showed veterans how to get the state and federal support they’re entitled to. This wasn’t just a passion project; it could change lives. Thanks to the editors and writers at Scribe, his book has now reached more than sixty thousand veterans.

Your book could be next. With the right editor, your manuscript could go from a jumble of thoughts and words to a book that could have almost unimaginable impact. All it takes is the right expert to help you bring it all together.