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How to work out which is the right editorial service for you

Do you want some help with your writing but don’t know quite what you want? Are you a bit puzzled by the various services on offer, and not sure what to go for? Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. can help you work out which service is right for you.

A shorter version of this article, Which service? is also available.

We also have a page on Services for Self-publishers, which may be a quicker way of finding what you're looking for if you're a self-publisher.

If you have finished writing your manuscript and don’t know how to proceed, I would strongly recommend considering having a report done on it first. Most writers need to do further work on their manuscripts before submitting or publishing them.

It’s really best to do as many drafts as you need to before trying to find a publisher or agent, or deciding to self-publish, as you could be wasting your time with submitting your work before it is ready. In this very competitive market, you need to make sure that you are giving your work its very best chance when you send it out or publish it.

WritersServices offers an Editor’s Report, which is substantial and will give you a framework for further work. There is also a Reader’s Report, which is a straightforward short first report, but do go for the Editor’s Report if you can, especially if you think you may need to do some further work on your manuscript, as it will provide more help with this.

If you feel you need even more input our Editor's Report Plus  is our top-level report for anyone who feels that they need more help than these two shorter reports offer. The editor will provide a longer and even more substantial chapter-by-chapter report.

Copy editing is an essential service which involves correcting the grammar and spelling, and preparing the work for publication. We have recently increased our range as a result of demand to offer a range of eight Copy editing services.

If you are an author planning to self-publish, then I would recommend having your manuscript professionally copy edited first, to make sure that your finished book is something you can be proud of and that it is not riddled with errors. Most writers cannot spot their own mistakes and they need the help of an experienced copy editor to make sure their text is in good shape for publication.

If you are intending to submit your book to agents or publishers, having it copy edited will certainly improve its chances, as no-one in publishing enjoys reading really messy manuscripts. Strictly speaking though, copy editing is something your publisher will be responsible for, once you get to the stage of having a publisher interested in publishing your work.

It can be a waste of time and money to have your manuscript copy edited until it is in the best shape you can manage. It's worth thinking about having a report done first, so that you can undertake any further work before the copy editing is done. Copy editing a manuscript takes many hours of an experienced editor’s time, so it is never cheap, and you need to make sure that you are doing it at the right stage.

If you think your manuscript needs a bit more than copy editing, I recommend our Manuscript Polishing service. The editor will polish and copy edit the work at the same time and you will end up with a manuscript which is ready to go to a publisher, or to submit, or to self-publish.

Have you written in English when it is not your native language, or translated your work into English? Or do you have a translation that someone else has done? Now you need to make sure it's good enough to publish, or send to a publisher. If you need help to get your work into perfect condition, our English Language Editing service is for you.

The Writer's Edit is a top-level service for more experienced writers who want line-editing and a set of accompanying notes as well as copy editing.

The Cutting Edit is our new service for writers who need help with cutting their manuscript. If you have finished your book, but it is too long, how do you go about reducing the word count without losing important parts of your work? Our experienced editors will work with you to reduce the word count of your book while preserving the main narrative elements and your individual style. This new service is available for both fiction and non-fiction and includes copy editing at no additional charge.

Our Developmental editing service - Writing is a continual learning process. The best authors develop their skills over time and constantly strive to improve. And there is a lot to learn: plotting; dialogue; action scenes and set pieces; character development; continuity and consistency; style, language and tone. Our developmental edit is specifically designed to help you bring your writing to the next level. Our experienced team of editors will guide and support you, helping you to grow as a writer, as you take your book project from draft manuscript to finished product.

If you are preparing your PhD for submission, you might like to consider our PhD editing service.

Our Proof-reading service is a check of the final proofs and should not be confused with copy editing, which should come first. (Copy editing is distinct from Proof-reading and this page explains the difference.) Authors have traditionally checked their proofs once they are set up in pages, but publishers also get a skilled proof-reader to read through the proofs at this stage, as it is amazing how many errors can creep in (as any reader will know!)

Our range of Children's Editorial Services offers reports and copy editing using skilled children's editors, recognising the importance of specific advice on material intended for this market.

Indexing is useful if you have a non-fiction book and want to use the services of a professional indexer to make sure your index is properly prepared.  You may need to organise this because you are self-publishing, or because your publishing contract says that you should provide the index.

Rewriting is a service which requires a highly experienced editor and we would need to assess the work first, before proceeding with this major and comprehensive service. In this case the initial assessment will lay out what work needs doing and will enable us to give you a quote for Rewriting, which is a major task and therefore both time-consuming and quite expensive.

As well as all this work on full-length manuscripts, we also offer the Submission Critique, which provides a commentary on the material you have prepared as a submission package. It is vital to present your work in the best possible way and this service provides advice to help you give it its best chance.

As well as this we have a specialist service for Scriptwriting assessment, which encompasses writing for the stage and screen, and for TV. 

Are you ready to show your poetry to magazines and publishers, but worried about rejection? Perhaps you're not sure it's ready for submission yet? Or do you just want an expert opinion on your poetry? Our Poetry Critique can help. Our unique Poetry Collection Editing service is for poets who want their poetry collection prepared for self-publishing or submission to publishers.

We can help with writing your Synopsis, if you’re finding this difficult, which many writers do. We also have our recently-introduced Blurb-writing service, carried out by a professional copy-writer, to help writers prepare the jacket or back cover copy for their book.

Finally, we have a service called Typing manuscripts  for hand-written and old typewritten manuscripts or book. This will give you a clean typed manuscript so you can revise your work, submit it or publish it.

Chris Holifield

Email us if you’re still not sure which service you should choose and we'll provide some tailored advice. Please send your manuscript as a Word document attached to your email if you want us to quote on it.

Editorial services

Fictionalised stories of how the services work for writers.

Advice for writers lists many pages of guidance on topics such as Finding an agent and Making submissions.