Copy Editing For Writers Looking To Self-Publish

Are you looking to self-publish your book and need a professional edit? Then we can help…

Imagine the situation. After much thought and consideration, you have decided to self-publish your first novel. You have all the marketing in place, reviews are waiting to be written and you have even convinced the local bookshop to let you do a book signing. The big day finally arrives, and your very own book drops through the letter box. You scramble to open the package. Slowly, you peel back the cover and read the first page… your heart stops. There, on the very first line, is an obvious typo!

BubbleCow editing is designed especially for self-publishing writers. When you use this service you will avoid publishing a book with obvious typos and huge plot holes. Therefore, ensuring that reviews and feedback of your book will be fair and not tainted by comments about an ‘unprofessional, unedited and mistake riddled text’.

This means that you can publish with the confidence that only a professional edit will bring. When it comes down to the actual edit, the editors are publishing professionals who will apply the same rigour and attention to detail that would be expected by any major publishing house. Our editors will provide you with detailed editorial feedback that leaves the control in your hands, allowing you to make only the changes you feel will benefit your book.

What You Get…

  • In-depth line editing designed specifically for self-publishing writers.
  • An editor’s report highlighting areas that need attention.
  • Precise guidance, examples and suggestions on how to correct any problems, leaving you in control.
  • Instructions on how to avoid making future grammar, punctuation and structural mistakes.
  • A specifically selected professional, qualified and experienced editor.

What Does It Cost?

$10 per 1000 words…

  • 10,000 words = $100.
  • 50,000 words = $500.
  • 100,000 words = $1000.
  • 150,000 words = $1500.

What the line edit will include…

The single most important aspect of our editing service is that it is designed to look at each line and word of your book, and then provide the advice, feedback and guidance you need to correct errors both big and small. The goal of the edit is to provide editorial feedback that, when applied to your book, will bring it to a publishable standard.

BubbleCow’s editing service has been designed to provide a ‘publisher’ style edit, which leaves your manuscript as close to ‘print ready’ as possible. This means that our edit will leave you confident that your manuscript is ready to move to the next stage.

If your book was being prepared for publication by a publishing house, it would pass through a three editing step process - Structural editing, Stylistic editing and Copy editing. Our service combines the three types of edit (Structural, Stylistic and Copy) to provide you with a ‘publisher’ standard line edit. The edit involves one of our professional and experienced editors reading through your work, line by line, and asking themselves the following questions:

  • Is the book’s organisation and content suitable for the intended audience, medium, market, and purpose? [Structural]
  • How can the book’s meaning be clarified, the flow improved and the language smoothed?[Stylistic]
  • Have you ensured the correctness, consistency, accuracy, and completeness of the document? [Copy]

In reality this means that we will not only be looking to correct grammar and punctuation, but also paying attention to the narrative flow, potential plot holes and the overall ‘feel’ of the book in relation to its genre and readership.

If you wish to see the guidelines we use when editing then this document will help you to understand the internal process in more detail. We have built our editing process around the professionally recognised editing standards and processes used by all major publishing companies worldwide (example here).

What your feedback will look like…

Your final report will be made up of two parts.

The first is the Editor’s Report. This includes our editor’s thoughts on your manuscript, ideas about improving your work and any general structural points you should consider. This feedback also includes any points that we feel need particular attention. The aim of this report is to provide a single summary document that you can use as a reference point when applying the feedback. Many writers have told us that they found it very useful to have a summary of the key areas that need attention, especially when the individual comments embedded with the document can number in the high hundreds.

The second part is the in-depth line edit. This is embedded in your original document and can be viewed by opening the document with any good word processing package. Our comments will appear on the right hand side of the text. The editor will have read through your work on a line-by-line basis, and added comments and pointers that will improve your text. Though this is not a proofread, any grammar or spelling mistakes we spot will be corrected. The report is designed to allow you to produce a new and better re-write by systematically working through the comments and implementing as you see fit.

Please note we don’t use tracked changes, instead we use the simple comments feature. The reason for this is that much of the editing process requires the editor to make a judgement call. Our editors will suggest the corrections and changes their experience and training tells them will work best in the context of your book. However, you may wish to overrule their judgement. Tracked changes would make this difficult.

It is our belief that the report is as much a teaching aid as it is an assessment of your book. We design our feedback to highlight areas in which you can strengthen your writing. We also structure our comments in such a way that you will be shown how to apply the techniques we are suggesting to improve your book.

Writer's book with editor's comments attached

Writer's manuscript with BubbleCow editor's comments embedded

Editor's comments

Editor's comments

Download the sample to read in more detail.


BubbleCow is an Internet based company and our low overheads mean that we can pass on the benefits to our writers. We charge just $10 per 1000 words.

At BubbleCow we understand that each writer’s needs are different, and therefore we have a minimum word count of just 5000 words. This means that you can send a short sample to ‘try out’ our editing service with little financial risk to yourselves.

We aim to return the completed edit within 21 working days, if not sooner. Upon payment you will be sent an email with the latest date on which the edit will be returned. However, as a rough rule of thumb you should allow a full calendar month for one of our editors to assess your work.

How It Works

  • 1. You complete the form below.
  • 2. We assign a suitable editor.
  • 3. An email invoice is sent to the email you provide and payment is made via our secure PayPal server.
  • 4. Our editor completes your edit within 21 working days of payment.
  • 5. You receive an email with the editor’s report and line-by-line edit.

Why Trust BubbleCow?

Here’s an interview with BubbleCow co-founder Gary Smailes. In it he talks about copy editing and all things BubbleCow (including where the name came from!)…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

More about our editors…

BubbleCow is a family run business and employs two full time editors with a third due to start shortly. Our lead fiction editor is Caroline Smailes. She is a novelist in her own right with a number of novels published by HarperCollins. She is also a highly experienced editor with an English degree and a master’s degree in Creative Writing.

Our lead non-fiction editor (and experienced fiction editor) is Gary Smailes. He is also a writer with more than twenty children’s books already in print. Gary has a master’s degree in Military History.


Catherine Kingham

I have to /criticise/ the BubbleCow mentoring programme. They simply never once told me, what an incredibly positive journey it would be, and now it is finished I am desolate. Well maybe not quite, as I now have a novel, edited, tweaked and polished to perfection!

I took advantage of the mentoring programme under the guidance of Caroline Smailes in the latter part of 2008. Over a period of several months I sent her chapters weekly and always received an edit within days. This worked very well, as she could become immersed in the storyline, without long gaps between edits. Working with Caroline has been invaluable in completing this project. She has instilled me with a confidence that quickly pervaded my writing, she was never afraid to criticise (but always in the nicest possible way), she was incredible sharp with continuity (especially when I chose to change character’s names mid story!) and genuinely became immersed in my storyline.

Finally as I prepared my precious bundle of blood, sweat and tears to post to the great manila mountain, she continued to hold my hand, as I bombarded her with emails for advice on agents, query letters etc. Thank you Caroline and Bubblecow for your patience and wisdom.

John Gillum

Caroline Smailes has the patience of a saint on Christmas Day. I expected an editor to be a being from another world. All shouting, all gnashing of teeth when I’d made a mistake. No! not Caroline. No matter how many mistakes I’ve made she is only too pleased to correct them. Caroline has encouraged me in every line and file that I have ever sent her. When there is something wrong, she tells me. When something is good, she tells me. She’s a lot like Annie Oakley at a shooting contest…she never misses a thing. Anyone who is completed a story should look no further than Caroline to edit it for them. She very approachable too, not the fuddy-duddy I expected. My god, she even knows a little bit about football. What else is there to say!

Chris Rickaby

BubbleCow know the fast-changing literary landscape inside out. The experience and contacts they have will improve any writer’s chances of either a first publication or improved sales and readership.

Matthew Watkinson author of On the Destiny of Species

If you want uninterrupted praise for your work, ask your mum. If you want praise where it’s due and honesty were it isn’t (and this is exactly what people trying to improve should want), you need the services of a good professional editor and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending team Bubblecow for the job. Not only will they tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear, they will do it quickly and that is precious in the modern literary world.

Julia Wills

I used Bubblecow’s Mini-Mentor service in writing my children’s novel and would recommend it to everyone. An idea that had been mulling round in my mind for a couple of years took shape with Caroline’s help, encouragement and guidance and is now a complete first draft. When I was stuck, she made suggestions; when I was flagging, she encouraged; when I was rambling off on the wrong track, she constructively pointed me back onto the path. Although I have been writing for many years and have completed a Masters in Writing, Caroline’s guidance remains the most helpful of all. She has the ability to read your work and come up with a suggestion that leaves you slapping your forehead, thinking “Of course!” Her thoughts have invariably improved my work and needless to say, I shall be Bubblecowing again very soon.

Clare Christian, former MD, The Friday Project.

I have made use of the BubbleCow editing service on several occasions and have always found them to offer a great service. The editing work is always word-perfect and timely and communication is great. I have no hesitation in recommending them.

Paul Brown, Tonto Books.

Caroline Smailes mentored and edited two of our authors - Rosalind Wyllie for Everything You Ever Wanted and Nik Jones for 9987 - in a dedicated and thorough fashion that brought each manuscript to a very high standard. Both writers appreciated and enjoyed working with Caroline, and found the experience a valuable boost to their new careers.

Nik Jones, author of 9987, published by Tonto Books.

I didn’t like the thought of some stranger interfering with my book, I was, I admit, a bit precious. However, the process was massively useful - problems were highlighted that I didn’t know existed and insightful and creative solutions were offered. I even got praise for the good bits!

Matt Hill, author of Colin & The Strimmer Men

Caroline fast became my Yoda. I couldn’t have felt more like the young Skywalker — she helped me learn from my mistakes and reigned me in where I was over-enthusiastic. She’s measured, kind and constructive, and basically takes a patient sewing machine to your work, sorting out all the stitches you’ve dropped, either in haste or simply through inexperience. Ultimately, I’m a better writer for her advice, and no mistake.