Is your book ready send to an editor?


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

I sometimes receive very raw drafts from writers asking for a copyedit, 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. (I’ve put the text below if you’re not able to read the text in the image.)

This is specifically about copyediting, which I get the most enquiries about, (if you’re not sure what I mean by copyediting 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 copyediting or an appraisal, there’s more info on my  fiction editing page.

You might also be interested in this article by literary agent Sara McKenzie about options for getting feedback on your work.

If you’re ready for a copyedit, contact me for a quote and no-obligation sample edit.

Get a quote and free sample edit


Good luck intrepid writer.

Please feel free to share if you found this useful or know someone who might (share buttons are below the text version).


Lu Sexton Worsdmith logo

Text version

For anyone relying on a screen reader or unable to read the text in the image, I’ve created a text version of 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.

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

Lu Sexton

Hello, I’m Lu Sexton. I’m a freelance editor and writing coach. I’ve been working with writers like you since 2009 and I love it. My mission is to help you bring out the best in your writing and get you one step closer to being published.

Ask me how

Thank you so much for your work on my book! It’s precious for a writer to see the editor engage with your manuscript in such depth, and in such a supportive way. It builds a relationship of trust. I like how your comments range from word choice and syntax to narrative technique and character development.

Gilbert Van Hoeydonck

Author of 'Good Intentions'

Lu is not only highly skilfull at editing, she is an absolute pleasure to work with. She was able to guide me through the development of my novel while deepening my understanding of the process and improving my abilities for the long term. Not only will your project benefit from Lu’s keen editorial eye but you, yourself, will gain her valuable insights. I’ll be recommending Lu to creatives and corporate businesses alike, as she has a wide knowledge of writing projects.

Simon Taylor

Comedian and author of 'One-night Stand'