Do I have to hire an editor before querying or publishing my book?

No. Every author has a different process.


If you're pursuing traditional publishing and an agent decides to represent your manuscript, it will end up in an editor's hands during publishing preparations. When querying, it's vital to send polished work, but extensive self-editing or beta-reading often suffice, as further revisions will take place later. This is often true when querying small presses, as well.

Even for self-publishers, working with an editor is an optional step. You are not less of an author if you cannot afford it, or if you choose to do the editing yourself. Self-editing is a valuable skill that can be developed with practice.

Still, every author has varying comfort levels with editing and enjoys different parts of the creative process. I'm a believer in hiring your weaknesses. Whether you're a querying author struggling to get your manuscript into submittable shape, or a self-publisher who dreads the editing process or who craves a fresh set of professional eyes, I'd love to help should you choose to hire an editor. After all, my favorite part of the process is polishing a powerful final product.

When should I get an editor? How do I choose which type of editing to request?

When to hire an editor depends on which service you're seeking⁠—there are different types of editing, which are often performed during certain phases of the creative process. You can find out more about these options, including when they may be most beneficial, on the Services page.

When forging a manuscript, you will likely go through several drafts and perform at least some self-editing. Going along with the concept of hiring your weaknesses, it may make sense to hire an editor for creatively-focused guidance early on in the process if you struggle with elements such as story structure or character development. Conversely, if you lack confidence in regards to readability or grammar, it may make sense to save your money for a copyeditor or proofreader later on. Depending upon your situation and budget, it may also make sense to hire for multiple phases.

If you're feeling overwhelmed with options, feel free to send a request via the Google Form at the bottom of the page with questions in the comments field, or to reach out directly to rowanrook@speculativesoulediting.com. We can talk with no obligations.

Do you only edit speculative fiction?

For the most part, yes, at least for developmental edits, line edits, and critiques. The speculative genres⁠—fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism, and slipstream⁠—contain the bulk of both my knowledge and my passion. I will also edit manuscripts that fall primarily under a different genre yet still contain speculative elements. For example, I'd love to delve into a cozy murder mystery that happens to be set in Atlantis, or a thriller featuring a paranormally-gifted protagonist. I also have a particular interest in speculative stories that incorporate elements more commonly associated with literary fiction. For language-focused services such as copyediting and proofreading, however, I'm comfortable editing most genres. I consider non-speculative sensitivity reads on a case-by-case basis.

Do you have any content restrictions on manuscripts you'll edit?

I don't edit erotica. I also prefer not to edit manuscripts with graphic sex scenes, or stories with sexual abuse or sexual violence. I'm not the right editor for these manuscripts.

Do you edit or critique short stories?

Yes! As an editor at the All Worlds Wayfarer literary magazine, I'm very familiar with the form. I require a minimum payment of $20 to work with a short story, as it takes a while to delve into any tale, but rates for short stories are otherwise the same as rates for longer manuscripts.

Do you offer any discounts?

I would love to, but I need to make a living wage if my own writing and editing career is to remain sustainable. Still, I know firsthand how tight an author's budget can be. If you face difficult circumstances, especially if you are a marginalized or indie author, feel free to reach out directly to rowanrook@speculativesoulediting.com. I may be able to help, depending upon my own current circumstances.

How will I be updated on your editing progress?

I will provide you with a Google Doc link when I start editing your manuscript. In this document, I'll log my progress so that you can track how close I am to completing your edits. You'll also be able to reach me through my email, which I check and reply to every business day.


What can I expect if I work with you?

Here's an overview of the process:

  • After you fill out the form, I'll perform a sample edit of your manuscript's first five pages. I'll also quote a flat-rate price based on your word count and the requested type of editing.

  • If you feel I'm the right editor for you and are okay with the quoted price and time-frame for completion, you'll sign a contract and I'll start working on your manuscript.

  • The payment plan is negotiable, but by default, I prefer to take half the payment upfront and half after completion, as editing can be a long task.

  • You'll receive a link to a document where you can track updates. You'll also be able to reach me via email with any comments or concerns. Likewise, I'll email you if I run into any questions or concerns during my work.

  • After I finish the first round of edits, I'll do one more read-through to check my own work for errors. I'll also write any applicable reports.

  • I'll finish the full process before or on the agreed-upon date, at which point I'll send you a document with tracked changes and in-line comments, along with any applicable reports.

  • If you have any questions about the edits or suggestions, we can discuss them further via email. Otherwise, the edits are then yours to accept or reject via the annotated document.

If you would like to hire me for additional editing services related to this manuscript, or for another draft after your revisions, I'll perform these follow-ups at reduced rates. Familiarity with your story speeds up the process.

What if I don't agree with your suggestions or changes?

That's fine. After all, it's your book. One of the advantages of using a tracked changes system is that you can easily accept or reject edits from the final deliverable. Take what you find useful and leave the rest. However, I will always offer edits and suggestions that I believe will improve the manuscript, as my passion for strengthening stories is why I do this job, and I also want to make sure that you get your money's worth. While I will advocate for certain revisions, I'll never pressure you to make them. As the author, every final decision rests with you.

What tone do you use in your comments and critiques?

I believe in straightforward honesty. At the same time, I'm not here to hurt your feelings. As an author myself, I know how much courage it takes to share your story and how vulnerable it can leave you feeling. Every manuscript has strengths and weaknesses, and it's natural for problems to arise with any work-in-progress. I will point out potential issues, but I will also comment on areas that, while already solid, could be even stronger. I'll be sure to let you know what I love about your story, as well. I'm mindful to use constructive phrasing⁠—my mission is to empower your work.

I will also never ask you to substitute my opinion for your own. You make the calls for your book.

Will you alter my story's voice or style?

No, although it is challenging at times to tell which elements are related to style and which are not. This is one reason why it's so important that I learn as much as I can about your vision for your manuscript. My goal is to help express that vision. 

Can you guarantee that my manuscript will be error-free?

No. No editor can legitimately make such a guarantee. However, I can guarantee that I will do my best to ensure that no errors escape. This is one reason why I perform two passes through a manuscript.

In terms of more subjective elements, I will offer edits that I believe to be beneficial. However, only you can decide what's correct for your book.

What is your editing philosophy?

I became an editor because I love stories. There's nothing better than feeling your heart pump faster as you turn pages, lying awake at night wondering what will become of your favorite characters, or coming across a scent while out for a walk that brings back beloved memories made purely from words. Stories connect us with ourselves, others, and the wider Universe. Stories⁠—especially speculative fiction⁠—tell cautionary tales, but also help guide society toward progress. Stories help us live our own lives more deeply, but also offer us countless other lives and experiences. Stories expose the magic in the mundane, whether literally or figuratively. Storytelling is magic as an art form.

I believe that every story matters. While marketability matters too, I aim to maximize each manuscript's own creative mission. After all, each has something entirely unique to offer.

What are your favorite types of books?

I love any book that sticks with me when I'm not reading it. I love characters whom I get to know so well that they become a part of me, coming away with me from the pages after the tale is told. I love stories that sense wonder and search for meaning. In more concrete terms, I especially love speculative stories that blend genres or use elements more commonly associated with literary fiction, such as poetic language, experimental structure, or a focus on characters and themes. However, I also enjoy books focused on entertainment. In fact, I've never read a book I've hated.


Request a no-obligation editing sample of your first 5 pages.

If you have any questions of your own, feel free to ask via the form.