There are different kinds of book editors (developmental editors, copy editors, line editors, substantive editors, proofreaders, etc.). And depending on the state of your writing, you could need one, two, or any variation of the various types. This piece is designed to show you that different editors are skilled to help you at different stages of your writing journey. When you know which one to reach out to once your manuscript is ready for editing, it will save you time and money and the frustration that typically comes with seeking a book editor.
Developmental Editing: focuses on the overall content of an author’s manuscript. An editor is not just looking for spelling mistakes and misused words when they do a developmental edit. They’re looking to see whether your overall content makes sense the way that it is structured. In other words, a developmental editor looks at the whole picture. During a developmental edit, your manuscript will be deconstructed and rebuilt in the most critical of cases, but, in most cases, your editor will offer ideas to develop your plot a little further, in addition to detailed plot hole notes. Full chapters might be moved or deleted, paragraphs will be rewritten, moved, or deleted entirely. Characters might be tamed, given a makeover, or killed altogether. The dialogue will be refined or given some personality. Developmental editing is a critical phase in the editing of an author’s work designed to elevate said work.
Line Editing: During a line edit, your manuscript will be analyzed sentence by sentence for word choice, and the power and meaning of a sentence. Words might be moved around and rearranged to make better sentences. Sentences might be crossed out completely or rearranged to flow into one another. Sections, where language can be improved, will be pointed out, as well as parts where the writing style is inconsistent. A line edit focuses on content, style, and the use of language. An editor is not looking for spelling mistakes and misused words when doing a line edit, instead, they’re looking to see how the author uses language (creative content, writing style) to communicate their story. Line editing is typically done after a developmental edit and is critical to improving an author’s work.
Copy Editing: is designed to make sure that your overall content/copy is free of errors and that all facts are checked. During a copy edit, your editor will analyze your manuscript for sentence structure, diction, spelling, grammar, consistency, flow, fact-checking, and punctuation. When it comes to line editing, copy editing, and proofreading, the three can sometimes overlap even though they each serve an entirely different purpose from one another. While line editing focuses on content, style, and use of language, for instance, copyediting focuses on all of those in addition to checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Copy editing is typically done after a line edit. You want to find an editor who pays attention to detail because theirs will be one of the last eyes to gloss over your manuscript before it goes out to publication.
Proofreading: is final in the line of editing services before your manuscript goes to print/publication. A proofreader's job is to catch everything your copy editor didn't catch, in addition to checking your formatting, table of contents, font style, and sizes, and making sure that your manuscript is up to publication standards. When you send your manuscript to a proofreader, you're letting them know that you are confident that your book is ready to publish.
That's book editing in a nutshell. Hopefully, you have a better sense of what you should be looking for once you're ready to start looking for an editor. If not, feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a sample of your manuscript for a free review and sample edit of the first few pages. Together, we'll figure out what type of editing your book needs.