About the Editor's Report...

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on March 23, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The essence of my role as a book editor is to improve authors’ manuscripts. When I take out my red pen, nothing is safe: I might make changes to your book’s big picture (such as pacing, plot and character development, story structure and loose ends), issues at the paragraph and sentence level (like improving the flow and rhythm of sentences, breaking up too-long paragraphs, fixing issues with the logic and clarity of scenes), or even last-minute changes like issues with spelling, grammar, or punctuation.

But in my six years working professionally as a book editor, and having edited over 300 manuscripts to date, I kept seeing a problem:

I was correcting authors’ manuscripts...but I wasn’t doing anything
to teach them how to improve their writing skills for their future books.

And thus, the Editor’s Report was created.

The Editor’s Report is a short, one-page letter I write to every author at the end of every editing project. In it, I highlight the most common issues I found during editing, and the strengths of the manuscript. This short letter is designed to help authors become a better writer and know what to look out for when writing future projects. In short, the Editor’s Report is geared toward showing you how to avoid your most common writing mistakes and what to focus on most to improve.

In this letter, I also include a brief report of how many errors I found in an author's manuscript, broken down into categories: In correcting over 6,000 errors, 3,500 of those might be insertions, 2,000 might be deletions, 300 might be instances of moved text, and the remaining 200 might be formatting errors. This helps show the author a categorical breakdown of where the errors in their manuscript were, and to be mindful of these "problem areas" to improve their writing for future projects.

What does an Editor's Report look like? Let's break it down with a sample Editor's Report, modified from one I recently sent to a client.

February 7, 2018


Thank you so much for choosing me to edit The Darkness! I did three passes on the manuscript: developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting.

In the first pass (developmental editing), I looked at the book as a whole and focused on improving character development, pacing, perspective, and the story’s organization. The most issues I noticed were in some areas that needed more explanation, usually in developing the scene some more for clarity (see page 37) or for “showing” instead of “telling” (see page 109: “I grit my teeth, resolved that Dr. Michael…” or page 111: “The parachute billowed behind me, slowing my descent.” ). Try to incorporate action and dialogue into scenes to "show" them instead of "telling" or summarizing the action.

I also did a line edit, where I focused on improving sentence structure, looking at the logic and clarity of scenes, rhythm/flow/readability of sentences, and breaking up too-long paragraphs. Some areas of your book required more line editing and some required less, which I’ve found is pretty common with most authors’ work. Most of the issues I found in this pass centered on improving the flow—see page 139: “The warrior shoved the gun away, leaving Brian without a weapon” or on page 23: “As expected, when I located the correct room, the security guard was watching over the cameras.” When writing sentences, be sure to use active verbs for clear meaning. The basic sentence structure—subject, verb, object - like "The warrior (subject)" + "shoved (verb)" + "the gun (object)"—is always a good, clear construction and will always work well for clarity and conciseness.

During the final copyediting pass, I focused on correcting surface errors including issues with grammar, word choice, punctuation, syntax, missing or repeated words, and spelling. One thing that stuck out to me as being problematic was an exaggerated use of “there was” or “there were” to start a sentence. I took out as many instances of these as I could to improve the flow, although this might be an area you should be mindful of in the future.

Although your story was full of action and had some great themes, I noticed that the tone was a bit too formal at times, and I was confused with the timeline and setting (the story seems to take place in medieval times due to the horses as transportation and the language choices, but there are references to photographs and eyeglasses, which were not around at that time). It might be worth going back over those areas once more before publishing.

In all, I made 8224 changes: 4129 insertions, 3939 deletions, 17 instances where I moved text, and 139 formatting changes.

If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail or set up a time for a phone call. Have a wonderful day!

Kristen Hamilton

Since I began offering this brief letter, I’ve received an enormous outpouring of support and gratitude from my clients. (It makes me so happy!) It’s definitely worth spending a few minutes of my time putting this together to help an author improve his or her craft. I now include the Editor’s Report as a standard “extra” I offer at the end of each full-length manuscript editing project.

Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

Follow Kristen on Facebook!



Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.

Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.

Categories: book editing

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

You must be a member to comment on this page. Sign In or Register