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Does It Really Take That Long to Edit?

Marlene is an editor who writers hire to edit and polish up their manuscripts for submitting to publishing houses or for self-publishing.

Writers write! Editors edit!

Writers write! Editors edit!

I hear writers asking editors, "Does it really take that long?" I understand the question clearly. However, I am also a writer, and so I am empathetic to the writer's desire to get their book edited, published, and on the shelves as fast as possible.

Nevertheless, the answer is yes. It really does take that long.

Editing is a slow process. Some editors estimate one page an hour. Generally, I can do up to 5 pages an hour. But that depends on the page and what needs to be edited.

Editors Edit

There is a symbiotic relationship between the writer and editor.

For the most part, writers are artists who craft beautifully written works of art. They leave the editing challenge to editors who can take what they have written and polish it up with proper grammar, punctuation, and style. It is kind of like adding polish to a fine piece of mahogany wood table. The table may be beautifully designed. Wiping it with linseed oil produces a brilliant finish.

That is what editors do. We bring a brilliant finish to the writer's fine piece of creation.

While we are combing through a writer's work, looking for and correcting grammar and punctuation errors, we also assess the writer's style. In applying the writer's style to the writer's work, we look for continuity. We make suggestions for phrases that might be a better fit. In essence, we polish up the writer's work until their craftsmanship shines magnificently.

How Long Does It Take?

All that an editor does takes time. First, we scan the document for errors. Then we fix the errors. Then we reread the page for continuity. Next, we make whatever adjustments need to be made. And then, we reread the page to be sure the page is tastefully complete.

The average adult reads at a pace of 300 words per minute (wpm). The following table shows how long it takes the average person to read a page.

Reading Times For The Average Reader

The average reading times are based on the average page with approximately 500 words per page.

Reading 1 PageSlow: LearningAverage: EntertainmentFast: Skimming


125 wpm

300 wpm

450 wpm


4 minues

1.7 minutes

1.1 minutes

When editing, editors read a page at least four to five times as part of the editing process, and editors read through the page slowly to learn the page's structure. So, if an editor reads a page five times, it takes an editor 8.5 minutes to read through a page. Therefore, it would take 42.5 hours for an editor to read through the average 300-page novel. Using those numbers, if an editor works six hours a day, it will take approximately 8.5 days to edit the average book. Because I work on multiple projects and often need to deliver several jobs simultaneously, I devote two hours a day to each project. So, it would take me approximately 21.25 days to edit an average novel.

Yes! It really does take that long.

Most Common Grammar and Punctuation Problems

As I look at a page, I look for grammar and punctuation issues. Right away, and on any and almost every page, I find the following most common problems.

These are the common types of issues found and corrected on a typical type-written page:

  • Add or remove commas, periods, colons, and semicolons
  • Change the preposition
  • Correct the word order
  • Unsplit infinitives
  • Re-phrase the sentence
  • Add transition phrase
  • Remove ellipsis
  • Complete the sentence
  • Add a hyphen or remove a hyphen
  • Change a semicolon to a comma or vise verse
  • Correct the spelling
  • Incorrect spacing

These issues do not adjust themselves. Each issue must be handled manually, and every action takes time.

The Three Most Common Grammar Mistakes

  • Your/You're
    • The word your is a possessive pronoun and is to be used to show possession of an item.
      Example: Your watch is beautiful.
    • The word you're is a contraction and is to be used to represent the words you are.
      Example: You're wearing a beautiful watch.
  • Than/Then
    • The word than is a comparison and is to be used when comparing items
      Example: The blue watch is prettier than the yellow watch.
    • The word then is a point in time and is used to indicate when something is happening.
      Example: I will buy the blue watch and then I will buy the gold watch.
  • Alot/A lot
    • The word alot is not even a real word. It should never be used in a sentence.
    • The words a lot represent plenty.
      Example: There are a lot of watches in that store.
Scroll to Continue

Writers Write

A writer's purpose is to write. Whether to amuse, persuade, inform, or tell a story, a writer's goal is to write. Indeed, a writer should have basic language skills and should be able to craft a proper sentence structure. It also helps if they are adept with appropriate punctuation.

While I know a few talented writers in writing and editing, I have discovered that writers who do both writing and editing do not do both writing and editing simultaneously. The dual-purpose writer first writes without concern for grammar and punctuation. When they are in writing mode, the primary purpose is to get their thoughts out of their head. Later, when they are all done, they put on their editor hat and begin the editing process.

Regardless of how long it takes to edit a manuscript, allow the editor to take all the time required to produce a writing product of which you can be proud.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Marlene Bertrand


Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 29, 2021:

Miebakagh Fiberesima, for sure, sometimes it can be annoying, but we can make light of it and then it becomes something funny we remember and whenever we think about it, it makes us laugh. I do hope you have a great day today, as well.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 28, 2021:

'golean'? New word? And you trying to look it up in a dictionary? While you make me laugh. At times, I wonder if we're reading or hiting/heating the keyboard or our thoughts? These little devils are too annoying!? Thanks for your underrtanding. And enjoy the day today.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 28, 2021:

I know what you mean, Miebakagh Fiberesima. With auto-correct and trying to rush, that happens a lot. But, it's funny, as I was just in the process of looking up "golaen" in the dictionary to see what it meant. LOL! I am so glad you came back to explain what happened.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 28, 2021:

MarleneB, I mean 'golden' inrtead of goldean, just one of thore nasty thing. Thanks.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 28, 2021:

I guess, Miebakagh Fiberesima, there is merit to the saying, "Patience is a virtue!"

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 28, 2021:

That is correct. It takes patiance to notice the small errors.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 28, 2021:

I agree with you Dee Dee, about patience. I believe patience is the one "skill" editors must have in plentiful supply.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 28, 2021:

Manatita, you have such a wonderful way with words. Thank you for your delightful comments.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 28, 2021:

Thank you, Miebakagh Fiberesima. Your supportive feedback is very appreciated.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 28, 2021:

You are so welcome, Misbah Sheikh. I am glad I had an opportunity to read it and let you know what a great article it was.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 27, 2021:

Marlene You provide valuable information here and is interesting to know from your experience. Patience is required when reading and editing and you sure have that.

manatita44 from london on June 27, 2021:

A well thought out and meticulously written article, laced with spice and other flavourings. This all helps to make it a great culinary and delectable treat.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 26, 2021:

An interesting, instructional and informational read. Much thanks.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 26, 2021:

Aww, thank you so much for the kind compliment, Marlene. I was thinking of submitting that article to a niche site but wasn't sure if it is good enough to submit. You have given me confidence to do so. Gratitude!

Blessings always

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2021:

Thank you, Rawan Osama, for your fine compliment. I truly do appreciate it.

Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 26, 2021:

Well written

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2021:

Thank you, John, I receive the question of why it takes so long from many writers, and a dear client suggested I write an article letting writers know why it took so long to edit. Here it is!

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on June 26, 2021:

Thank you for writing this article, Marlene. It is rare to get the editor’s point of view and many writers have no real regard for the amount of effort editing takes. Very informative.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2021:

Also, Misbah Sheikh, I want to say I really enjoyed reading your article about gratitude. I am a big fan of the hand-written thank you card.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2021:

Thank you, Misbah Sheikh, for your very kind compliment! Many blessings to you too.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2021:

Hello Chitrangada Sharan! Thank you for your compliment. Although it is work, it is still enjoyable. I enjoy reading and writing. Editing gives me a way to enjoy reading, and on some occasions, writing as I sometimes need to rephrase a writer's work.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 26, 2021:

Marlene, you've written a very helpful, interesting, and educational article. I have learned a lot from your beautiful article. Thank you so much for sharing.

Many Blessings to you

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 26, 2021:

This is an excellent article about editing and what all the good editors do! Very well explained!

Reading other's work, with the purpose of polishing it, requires expertise, patience, and good knowledge of the language! You deserve all the appreciation! Wish you all the best, Marlene!

Thank you for sharing!

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2021:

Thank you, Bill, so much for your compliment. I do have to admit that editing other people's work is difficult. Fortunately, I have a LOT of patience. I love reading and editing gives me a way to make reading worthwhile.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 26, 2021:

More power to you, my friend. I don't have the patience to edit someone else's book. It's torture enough doing my own. It takes a special talent to be a good editor, and I have no doubt that you are one.

Have a brilliant weekend!

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