Today we’re talking about editors, specifically the different types of editors so you can decide which type is right for you!

We’ll start with the most intensive edits and work our way to the lighter end of the editing spectrum. This will also be the order in which you should approach editing. Doing the lighter end of the spectrum before you’ve done the heavy lifting is just going to be a waste of time and money. I will be doing an additional episode that will cover editing timelines and general associated costs as well. 

I’m not going to be talking about beta readers or critique partners in this episode because those have been covered in other episodes, and today we’re focusing strictly on professional services you can purchase.

The Book Doctor

The most intensive option is not one that gets mentioned often and that is book doctoring. Book doctoring is going to cover not only the developmental portion of the story, but will also work with you as a writer to improve your craft and storytelling. They are essentially a cross between a developmental editor and a ghostwriter. As a general rule, editors are not going to rewrite content for you, but something like a book doctor is likely to take on that level of work to get your story to where it needs to be if that’s not something you can handle yourself.

If you are at a phase where you have an idea or concept you really want to write, but are keenly aware that your skills are not in a place that will allow you to do that, and you’re too impatient to build up those skills organically over time then you could look into a book doctor. This is going to be a mentorship in most cases as well as an editing service so you need to make sure that whichever book doctor you’re looking into has work that you think is top notch. I’m going to use the metaphor of building a house to help make each phase of the editing process easily understandable. The book doctor is digging out the basement. It may not be essential for what you need, but it’s an opportunity to expand and requires tools that you don’t have access to on your own. 

The Developmental Editor

The next most intensive is the developmental edit. A developmental editor is going to cover all of your big picture items. These include world building, plot, pacing, structure, characterization, fact checking, and point of view. In some, but not all cases, you will have two rounds of developmental editing. The first round will provide you with an editorial letter, which is going to break down all of the major issues with the manuscript. Then, once you have had a chance to correct those in your own revisions, the editor may do a second pass for additional issues with those big picture items to make sure that you have covered all of the corrections needed. The developmental editing stage is where you are most likely to encounter large revisions, and potentially rewrite of the entire book.

If you are concerned about marketability or industry standards, that is something that a developmental editor can also assist you with assuming that they have significant experience in the publishing industry. If you are in new to publishing, new to writing in general, if you are writing in a new genre, if you are unsure of your skills, or simply want some extra support and you know that those big picture items are something where you have a weakness, then hiring a developmental editor can be a great option for you. Using our house metaphor developmental editing is your framing and basic installations like electricity and plumbing. This is making sure that the structure of your home is solid and not going to tip over with the slightest breeze.

The Line Editor

Once you have done developmental editing on your story, you can move on to line editing. Line editing is going to focus on your unique style while also helping to tighten up your sentences, work on your clarity and consistency, and help solidify character voice. Line editing is literally where the editor is going to go line by line through your manuscript and make sure that everything makes sense on that zoomed in level. If you skip a developmental edit, either with a professional or a self edit, and go straight to line editing, then you are doing a disservice to your story. Using our house metaphor line editing is getting your walls prepped to paint, moving in the appliances, and arranging your furniture. At this point the home is livable, but not very pretty.

The Manuscript Critique

I’m also going to mention the manuscript critique. This is typically a combination of developmental and line edits and is professional work provided by another writer, and not necessarily someone who is exclusively an editor. If your budget is snug, but you still know that you need help then that could be an option. When I have done critiques, I will tackle all of the things that I mentioned in developmental edits, and if there’s a lot of developmental work to be done, then I won’t dig too deeply into line edits, however, if the story is solid then I will do more line edit work. A critique is typically not as intensive as general edits and the price point tends to reflect that.

The Copyeditor

Our next phase is the copyedit. The copyedit is going to focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling and consistency. I’ve found that nothing makes a story unreadable so quickly as an unreasonable amount of typos and other similar errors. A couple are not a big deal, but I think at some point or another, we have all encountered stories that would highly benefit from a copyedit. If you are an English speaker that does not live in the states, but are writing for an American audience, then a copyeditor is going to be your best friend. They can help correct slang and terminology, make sure that your spelling for your dialect of English is correct and consistent, or that you are matching the dialect you’re intending to write in if you want to use Canadian, UK, or Australian English. They’re also going to point out things like ‘hey, you used this word four times in one sentence, consider revising’ or ‘hey, you’ve spelled your main character’s name three different ways in this book so be sure to standardize,’ etc. A copy edit is going to seriously help with the level of polish on your story. Using our house metaphor, the copyedit is when you’re putting your paint on your walls and adding in your decor. You are covering up all those little sins that got patched, and you are making your home look beautiful.

The Proofreader

The final stage of editing is the proofread. I must stress that a proofread should only be performed on a manuscript that has been edited either professionally or extensively self edited. Proofreads tend to be the cheapest option with the fastest turnaround because they are meant to be only catching typos, formatting errors and other things that have snuck through the editorial process. I know that it is not uncommon for people to skip the intermittent stages of editing and to provide a story that is still in its early stages to a proofreader. Please reconsider this where possible. If you are trying to save a few dollars by getting a proofreader to do the work of all of the other types of editors then they’re probably not going to be very happy with you. In terms of our house metaphor, the proofread is when you clean up before your guests arrive. There is no home building, there is no adding decorations, everything is already done. The proofread is the final tidy to wipe up the dust and straighten those picture frames. 

I hope that this episode was helpful, and that you have a better grasp of what the different editors do so that you can choose what type of editor to employ whether through a monetary transaction, through trade, or if you have someone who wants to volunteer to undertake that task. Take a hard look at where your skills lie and where you would be best served getting a little extra assistance to make your story the best version of itself. 

That’s all for now. You can find all of my books and platforms in the description below. If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, please do let me know. And if you’d like early access to these you can join my Patreon where I share them with people as soon as they’re ready to roll. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you soon for another episode!



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