How to Prepare Your Fiction Manuscript for a Freelance Editor

how to prepare your manuscript for a freelance editor

If this is your first time hiring an editor to work on your book, you’ll probably have a few questions about how to prepare your manuscript for a freelance editor.

Remember, this isn’t like submitting a query to a literary agent or publisher. The rules are less rigid at this stage of publishing, but there are some expectations you need to keep in mind before hitting send.

Note: The information in this blog post relates only to fiction manuscripts.

Is your manuscript all in one piece?

First things first, make sure your manuscript is all in one document, in chronological order, and that you haven’t missed or duplicated any chapters or sections. A simple read through before sending your book to a freelance editor will confirm this.

Even if you separated each chapter into a new document while writing or used some other process to keep track of your progress, now is the time to compile your book’s contents into one single word document. Don’t forget to include chapter headings and page breaks!

how to prepare your manuscript for a freelance editor

Check which software your editor uses

It's a good idea to confirm which word processor your editor uses to ensure that your document opens without issues if you're using a different program (e.g. if you're using Pages on Mac but your editor uses Microsoft Word and is working from a PC).

This will be different for each author/editor, so a simple email to a freelance editor before you send your manuscript should give you the answer!

Remove all double spacing

Whether it’s personal preference or an old habit, your editor is going to remove all instances of double (or triple, quadruple, etc.) spacing at the end of sentences in your manuscript, but they would really appreciate it if you did this instead.

If you’re paying to hire a freelance book editor, you want to make sure their time is spent assessing the important details of your manuscript rather than correcting simple formatting issues. Knowing what to fix before sending your manuscript will benefit both you and your editor.

We aren’t living in the age of typewriters anymore. You only need one space after a period, exclamation mark, question mark, or any end punctuation.

how to prepare your manuscript for a freelance editor

Use a standard font and font size

So you might absolutely love that fancy new font you just downloaded for your manuscript, but it’s unlikely your editor has the same font installed on their computer.

At this stage of the publishing process, your words on the page should be the only thing that matters, so you need to make sure they’ve been typed in a clear, consistent font choice and are easy for your editor to read.

Standard font choices for manuscripts include Times New Roman, Arial, and Georgia, which are all typically found on most word processors.

And yes, size matters. I always recommend going for 12-point font, but anywhere around this number is generally fine.

Have you self-edited your manuscript? (Spoiler alert: The answer is “no” if you’re still noticing errors!)

Sure, you’ve decided to hire a freelance editor to give your work a thorough polish, and no professional editor will overlook typos and simple grammatical errors in your manuscript.

But making an editor stop to correct these as they read through takes their attention away from your story and the important stylistic changes they could be making instead.

Your work doesn’t have to be publishing-ready and perfect when you send it to a freelance editor, but it should be polished enough that you can’t personally spot any more errors when you read through. Some authors even employ beta readers to help them with this before hiring a freelance editor.

how to prepare your manuscript for a freelance editor

Looking to hire a freelance fiction editor?

If you’d like to learn more about the different stages of editing your book, please click here to view a description of my freelance editorial services.

I’m a full-time freelance fiction editor, and I’m always open to new clients. To arrange a free sample edit, or for more information about my affordable book editing services, please click here to contact me or email me directly at

All images in this blog post were sourced from


I am a freelance editor and published writer offering friendly, affordable book editing services. From my base at home in the UK, or while over in the USA, I work with authors and publishers internationally. I'm a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.


Bryony Leah, freelance editor, freelance writer, affordable book editor, affordable book editing services, ebook editor, romance editor, fiction editor
Bryony Leah, freelance editor, freelance writer, affordable book editor, affordable book editing services, ebook editor, romance editor, fiction editor
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