The Essential Qualities of a Good eBook Editor

To paraphrase a well-worn trope; the author who chooses to edit their own book has a fool for an editor. Yes, you know the work better than anyone else. Yes, the success of the book is more important to you than anyone else. And yes, the book is the culmination of many hours of your research, dedication and effort. All of which is why you are the wrong person to edit it.

You can always learn how to become a better editor, but Chief among the essential qualities of a good book editor is the ability to be objective about the work to find opportunities for improvement. One cannot adequately do this for their own material. You know what you intend to say, so you’re prone to miss the potential for added clarity.  

Here’s what else should you look for in an editor for your ebook

  1. Respect for Your Work

The best editors understand the book belongs to the author and does everything possible to ensure the writer’s voice and vision are evident in the finished product. They know their role is to perform in the background, rather than taking center stage. Their ultimate goal is o help you get your work published. Recognizing the time, expense and effort you put into developing the manuscript, they present their suggestions in a manner designed to uplift you rather than denigrate you.

  1. Unflinching Honesty

Even if they are familiar with the subject matter, no editor can be as knowledgeable as you on your topic. The best editors know this and ask questions when they are unsure of the intention of a phrase. Beyond that however, they will do everything possible to make sure every word in the book counts. Additionally, they can explain in detail why each change they suggest is warranted. Keep in mind, the editor’s job is to turn your manuscript into the best product it can be to help you sell books online. Flattering you, patronizing you or “letting things go” will only be detrimental to the quality of your book.

  1. Definitive Command of Language and Grammar

While it might seem obvious, this bears repeating simply because of the unquestionable relevance of the fact. It has been said a good editor is a mechanic, while a good writer is an artist. In other words, the writer’s job is to craft an interesting tale, while the editor’s job is to make sure the tale functions properly. This means they know exactly where commas, semi-colons, dashes and other punctuation should go and why. Detail-oriented, they are obsessive (in a healthy way) about sentence structure and spelling, in addition to consistency of language and the flow of your prose. What’s more, the best editors are capable of correcting such mistakes while keeping the essence of your words intact.

  1. Strong Sense of Professionalism

All publishing, including self-publishing, is slaved to deadlines. Every aspect of producing a book should be done according to a specific timetable. This keeps the project on track, which helps ensure its completion. Good editors are capable of working accordingly. They should be able to give you an idea of how long it will take to review your manuscript after reading few sample pages. Further, they should be capable of setting their ego aside and changing only what needs to be changed, rather than making changes just because they feel good making them.


In addition to all of the above, the essential qualities of a good ebook editor include an ability to take criticism and respond to it diplomatically. The best editors know their role as a silent partner and embrace it heartily.  They also possess prudence and know they are there to guide you, rather than merely criticize.