Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ink Tips: The Different Types of Editing

Since I'm about to plunge into my third major foray into the editing process, I thought I'd share some suggestions from my own experience.

Anyone will tell you that if you want to be a writer, then you need an editor.  But as a self-published author, it can be a challenge to try and figure out what type of editing service is needed and how much it should cost.  There are editors charging thousands of dollars for what amounts to a run through Microsoft spell check, and there are editors who can help to polish a work until it shines, bringing out nuance the author never knew were there.

First rule of thumb: ask for references and get a sample.  Word spreads fast among the publishing community about the scams and tricksters.  Even if an editor is claiming to be "new" then they often have some background that authors and other editors will know about.  Once an author has some recommendations, then ask the chosen editor for a sample of their editing work.  That will give a good idea of what to expect before you pay for a full manuscript to be edited.

That still leaves plenty of choices to make.  Most private editors will offer both packages and an a la carte option for their services, which can include:

Developmental Editing:

In a developmental edit, the editor looks for potential plot holes, weak characters or world-building.  This is invaluable, particularly for new writers.  I highly recommend it as a way to avoid common errors, author blindspots and improve writing skills.


Fact-checking is just what it sounds like, an editor or several editors will go through a manuscript to look for factual or cultural errors.  The tricky part for this service is making sure that the editor is in fact familiar with the area of history, culture or location that an author is using.  Personally, I prefer to use my research contacts to go over any potentially sensitive issues, since I've already vouched for their knowledge.

Line or Copy Editing:

In a line edit, the editor goes through line by line, looking for inconsistencies, continuity errors, grammar problems, odd phrasing, spelling issues and other potential challenges.  It's a time consuming and detailed process and thus one of the most expensive editing options but to me it is non-negotiable.  If I'm only going to do one type of editing, this is the one.


This is very basic spell and grammar checking, looking for missing or extra punctuation or words.  Usually it's done as a single read through.  I save this kind of check for the end of the editing process and I'll ask several sharp-eyed friends to have a look through.


This is a type of editing that usually happens after the manuscript is ready for publication.  An editor goes through the final ebook to make sure that page breaks are where they are supposed to be, that the links work properly, etc.  I generally handle this myself but it's a time consuming process.

Editing is a lot of work, usually as much or more than the initial writing and unlike writing, it can't be a solitary effort.  But it's worth it, making all the difference in a manuscript that will have readers eagerly waiting for more.

No comments:

Post a Comment