Because the different levels of professional editing can be confusing, and every editor’s approach may vary, here are my descriptions of each.
A developmental edit helps you craft and fully develop your story. This often occurs at the beginning stages of writing or if you find yourself stuck. If writing fiction, I’ll look at how well your story hangs together, character development, pacing, and dialogue. If it’s nonfiction, I will assess its structure, level of authenticity, and reader relatability. But whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, the developmental editor’s perspective is that of your potential reader. Are your words engaging and will you successfully connect with your readership?
Copyediting incorporates the basics – checking punctuation, grammar, and syntax. But a copy editor also watches for inconsistencies. If your character had brown hair on page 22 and is suddenly blonde on page 45, your reader will spot it. Copy editors also routinely fact-check, verifying factual details, particularly in nonfiction work.
A line edit goes over your manuscript line-by-line, looking for anything that should be revised or reworded. A more intensive review than copyediting, this puts the final polish on your story.
Proofreading is usually the final step before to your manuscript goes to the publisher. But proofreading can be a stand-alone service if that’s what is required. The proofreader reviews for any errors that were missed in the editing and revision process. Think of it as the final clean-up.
How Does the Editing Process Work?
No matter where you are in writing your book, I’ll do an initial editorial evaluation and provide you with feedback. Answering these questions will help you determine what services you need.
- Do you need help developing the characters/storyline/plot points? Are you at the beginning stages of your nonfiction work? A developmental edit would make the most sense.
- Do you have a completed manuscript? After an evaluation determines a developmental edit is not required, I might suggest a copy edit and/or line edit and after that stage, proofreading.
- Somewhere in between? You would benefit from a combination of editing services and we will discuss a “custom” array of editorial services that best fit.
For more information about formatting your manuscript for editing and questions about my editorial process, please see Formatting Your Book for Editing.