What are the different types of editing? Your book isn’t done when you write the final period of the last chapter. There is cause for celebration for finishing the writing process, but now starts the long process of editing your book.
Have you ever read something and noticed a grammatical mistake or a plot inconsistency? That’s what can happen if you try publishing your book without any type of editing.
The truth is, your book will probably need a few rounds of different types of book editing to get it in the shape it needs to be to sit on the shelves. What types of editing are there, and what does your book need?
Check out this guide to help you learn the editing types. You’ll be able to decide which ones are best for your book.
What are the different types of editing/editors
“Copy” is how the publishing world refers to text. Think of copy editing as text editing. This type of service goes word-by-word and finds issues with grammar, word usage, and consistency.
This type of book editing is where copy editors find any typos, spelling, grammar, or syntax errors. Copy editing also checks for the correct use of punctuation, like commas, semicolons, quotation marks and dashes.
Often, copy editors will leave comments to explain why they made the change or suggest revisions for the author to look over. Once the copy is fully edited, the author can accept or reject the changes set out by the editor.
No one writes a perfect first draft, no matter how hard they try. It’s not hard to use a comma the wrong way. That’s why copy editing is important to a manuscript.
It’s a good idea to copy edit once you’ve finished revising the plot, characters, and story structure for fiction and the overall book chapters for nonfiction.
Line editing and copy editing are often used interchangeably, but these are two different types of editing. Where copy editing focuses on correct grammatical uses, line editing focuses on the flow of prose.
A line editor is concerned with how ideas flow from one to another. Are the different elements transitioning smoothly? Are the tone and writing style consistent?
A line editor’s comments suggest making changes that make sentences tighter by removing issues with redundancy and verbosity. Their work improves awkward sentences and paragraph construction but is not a rewrite.
Their goal is to create an engaging and pleasurable reading experience by removing small inconsistencies. A consistent tense, good word choice, and proper tone are essential to the overall flow.
Line editing makes your prose more stylistic and smooth. In non-fiction books, line editing can also catch factual errors but not research or fact checking.
Line editing ensures your book is well-written, so you’ll want to start this process when most of the larger issues have been resolved. This ensures a polished final draft that will have the most impact on the reader.
Moving on to more extensive types of book editing, substantive editing is where you might start overhauling your book. The goal of substantive editing is, as it sounds, to improve the overall story/content structure.
This type of editing looks at your narrative and helps it become the most engaging for the reader. A substantive editor will make sure your story makes sense chronologically.
A substantive editor may suggest adding flashbacks to increase the suspense. They might also suggest that you have too many flashbacks that distract from the story. Maybe you need to cut the flashbacks altogether for a linear approach.
Substantive editors also tackle whether you should split or combine your chapters or sections. They will consider the chapter order. They may suggest areas where you can expand, tighten, or delete for more clarity.
Substantive editing often goes along with developmental editing and can be done together. Since this type of editing can result in the most revisions, it’s a good idea to start this process early, soon after you complete writing.
As stated, a developmental edit often goes hand in hand with a substantive edit. That’s because both of these types of editing work on the big picture of a manuscript.
However, they may be similar, but developmental and substantive are two separate types of editing. A developmental edit is extensive and focuses on every part of the novel.
Developmental edits focus on the setting, timeline, plot, structure, characterization, pacing, and marketability of the book. All these features get a revision before producing a finished manuscript.
A developmental editor is like a beta reader. They may find that your main character needs to be more fleshed out, or certain parts of your plot don’t make sense. You may need to create more tension to ramp up the stakes.
This kind of editing will start early in the writing process, creating a collaborative relationship between editor and writer. A developmental editor helps work through ideas and get to the nitty-gritty of perfecting a manuscript.
A development edit will also narrow down your target audience and marketability. The right developmental editor can figure out if your book is what’s current in the industry and where its place on the shelf might be.
The final step to editing is proofreading. The name derives from the “proofs” that typesetters produced before the writing went to its final print run. When your book gets to this stage of editing, all the major overhauls have been done.
Colloquially, many people use proofreading and copy editing interchangeably. In publishing, however, they are two different types of editing. Copy editing happens towards the start, and proofreading is the final step.
The text is formatted onto its pages with any photos, diagrams, or tables added to the page layout. Now in the final format, no more major changes can be made. You can’t add or delete pages, paragraphs, or chapters.
Any more major edits that can change the final proof can cost a publisher a lot of time and money doing a redesign. That’s why before proofreading, it’s essential to do all needed edits and get your book to a near-perfect stage.
Proofreaders will look for any leftover typos, spelling mistakes, or inconsistencies. They’ll make sure dashes, spaces, and quotation marks are in the right place.
Before printing, they’ll also check for any words that split awkwardly at the end of a line. They’ll make sure that a single sentence isn’t carried over to the top of a page from a previous paragraph. This is called a widow in publishing.
Similarly, they’ll check for orphans, a sentence left at the bottom of a page that should go with the paragraph on the next page. Once your book is proofread, it’s ready for publication and distribution.
What Kind of Editing Does Your Book Need?
Now you know the major types of editing, and you have a completed book. You may be asking what kind of editing do you need?
There is no one size fits all editing process that fits every book, and the truth is you’ll probably need a combination of these types of editing. The best type of editing for a book is one that gets it into publishing shape.
That looks different for every author. Some books will need much more focus on getting the grammar right while the story is near perfection. Other books will need much more guidance on the plot with some grammatical tweaking.
It’s a good idea to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript as an author to help you know which types of editing your book needs.
Do You Need Professional Editing?
Is professional editing mandatory for publication? Technically, no. Is it a good idea? Absolutely.
After spending all that time writing, you may be too close to your book to make the necessary changes to get it into a state ready for publishing. You often know what you mean in your head, so it can be difficult to pick out mistakes.
Similarly, your characters, setting, and plot may feel fleshed out because you know the story you want to tell. That might not always translate on the page. This is where an extra set of eyes will come in handy.
If you’re worried about the price, you won’t need to hire an individual editor to complete each type. Many editing services and publishing houses will bundle services together to give your book a comprehensive edit.
The Best Type of Editing for Your Book
Nobody’s first draft is perfect. Every book that goes through a publishing house—large or small—endures multiple rounds of edits. Your book may even need multiple editing types.
You want readers to focus on the incredible story, the engaging characters, and the immersive world you created or the incredible content for nonfiction. Mistakes can distract from that.
The best type of editing makes your book an engaging read for your audience.
Ready to perfect your writing? Place an order with EditMojo’s editing services to get your book in publishing condition. Want to see what editing will do for your book? EditMojo will give you a quick, free sample.