Is your book ready send to an editor?

How do you know when your book is ready to send to an editor?

I often receive very raw drafts from writers asking for a copy edit, or even a proof read, which made me realise two things:

  1. Some writers aren’t aware of the different levels of editing, (which is understandable – I wasn’t either before I studied editing).

2. Some writers aren’t aware that there are a number of stages they need to go through themselves before their manuscript is ready to send to an editor.

So to help out, I’ve created this super professional flowchart.

This is specifically about copy editing, which I get the most enquiries about, (if you’re not sure what I mean by copy editing I’ve put a link to some definitions at the end of this post).

This not a definitive process, but it’s indicative. So if you’re wondering what to do next once you’ve typed ‘the end’ for the first time, this could be a handy guide.

Ready to send to an editor flow chart

If you want to know more about copy editing or other stages in the editing process (yes, there’s a few) I’ve detailed them here: Book editing for creative writers.

For anyone who is relying on a screen reader or is unable to read the text in the image, I’ve recreated the essential information in the flow-chart below.

Opening question: Is it hot off the keyboard?

Questions and answers on left hand side of the chart:

No it’s not hot off the keyboard

  1. Have you read it through top-to-toe without fiddling?


  1. Are you happy with the story arc and character development?


  1. Have you worked through line by line to refine language?


  1. Have you sent it to a beta reader (or readers) or an editor for appraisal?


  1. Have you worked in the feedback from the appraisal?


  1. Have you worked through line-by-line again to refine the language?


  1. Congratulations. Your manuscript is ready to send to a copy editor


Questions and answers on the right hand side of the chart:

Yes it’s hot off the keyboard

Not ready. The first thing you need to do is read through without fiddling (circle or highlight issues, make margin notes, but don’t try to fix because you’ll end up going down rabbit holes).


A. Make a list of what needs doing.

TIP: A chapter outline can help you see the story (and any gaps).

Character studies can help with character development.


B. Work through the list.


C. Read through again. Are you happy with the story arc and character development?

If yes go to step 3 above

If no work through steps ABC again until you get yes for an answer, then continue with steps 3 to 6.


Good luck intrepid writer.

Please feel free to share if you found this useful or know someone who might.