What Editing Is All About

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When you think of editing, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Many people view the main task of editing as finding and fixing grammar or spelling mistakes. However, book editing is much more. Book editing is a process that involves revising the content, organization, grammar, and presentation of a piece of writing. The purpose of book editing is to ensure that your ideas are presented to your reader as clearly as possible. Proofreading focuses on checking for accuracy in smaller details of your work. It is a part of the overall book editing process, and is best done as the final stage of editing. In the next section of the workshop, you will discover how to put in force a book editing process that moves from big picture concerns through to the final step of proofreading.

The Importance Of Editing

As a fellow writer, I know that the idea of editing and writing multiple drafts seems daunting. When you are working on a specific project, you want it to be perfect, and you have a false notion that it will be the perfect work of art the moment you set pen to paper for the very first draft. Well, as I said, this notion is quite false. The first draft is only the beginning.

  • I know, I know. No one really likes to be told that their baby of a project needs reworking so that it can grow and mature, but it is true. No one is so good at writing that they can get published with their first draft. I am currently working on a few projects, and I have learned my lesson. My first drafts were horrible.
  • Don’t be too discouraged when you feel like you have edited your book to death. This is normal. You put your book through so many drafts that you just get tired of looking at it. This is the time when you send it to other people to edit.
  • My advice to you here is that you send it to a professor of writing or someone that you trust to give you a valuable opinion and analysis of your work. That way you have fresh eyes looking at it, and you can take a break, or move on to the next project.
  • Yes, editing is one of the most important parts of writing a book, besides the actual writing of it. Now go forth, my fellow writers.

The Different Types of Editing

  • Terms in editing can be confusing to a new author, especially because the terms are often used interchangeably and may have different meanings within the industry. However, here are the most widely accepted terms and their meanings. When hiring an editor, always speak to him or her about exactly what the editing includes.

Copy editing

Copy editing, commonly called line modifying, is a light form of editing that applies a professional polish to a book. The editor reviews your work, fixing any mechanical errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Copy editing is the least-expensive version of editing.

Some professionals divide copy editing and line editing into two separate edits, copy editing being the lighter, grammar-only edit, and line editing being a more intense look at each sentence’s meaning. Always clarify with your editor what is included in his or her copy edit to be sure.

Line Editing

Line editing is often used interchangeably with the term copy editing. However, when it is distinguished from copy editing, it refers to a unique edit that falls between copy editing and developmental editing in intensity. In line editing, the editor looks at your book line by line and analyzes each sentence. The editor considers word choice and the power and meaning of a sentence. The editor considers syntax and whether a sentence needs to be trimmed or tightened. Line editing helps to make your prose sing.

Mechanical Editing

Mechanical Editing refers to the application of a particular style, such as The Chicago Manual of style or Associated Press (AP) Style. The editor looks at punctuation, capitalization, spelling, abbreviations, and any other style rules. Mechanical editing is sometimes included in copy editing.

Substantive Editing

Substantive editing considers a work’s organization and presentation. It involves tightening and clarifying at a chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence level. Unlike developmental editing, which covers the big-picture issues and deep-level restructuring, substantive modifying deals with the actual prose. Substantive enhancing is once in a while called line modifying and can also be confused with developmental editing. Always check with your editor and put in writing what his or her services cover, regardless of the term used.

Developmental Editing

The developmental editor looks deeply at the organization and strength of a book. Think big picture. The editor considers everything from pacing to characters, point of view, tense, plot, subplots, and dialogue. Weak links are uncovered and questioned. The editor scrutinizes order, flow, and consistency. He asks questions such as: Is this the proper range of chapters? Are the chapters and paragraphs in the right order? Are there any places in the book where the pacing lags? Is there a hole with inside the statistics or tale presented? Are the characters likable? Developmental modifying considers all the aspects of a manuscript that make the book readable and enjoyable. Because of the significant nature of this shape of editing, it is more time extensive and costly. However, it is worth the funding if you are serious about succeeding as an author.

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Editing Process

Each stage of the editing process has a specific purpose, which goes back to your original goal: making your manuscript the best it can be.

  • You and/or your family and friends:
  • Self-Edit
  • You’re the first line of defense. The self-edit is when you reacquaint yourself with your book to correct mistakes you didn’t catch while writing. This can be as simple as fixing typos or as big as rewriting chapters. But before you dive in, give yourself a break, so you can come back to your book with fresh eyes. You’ll want to slow down and really read every word while doing this—maybe even read it aloud—so you can truly see and hear what’s on the page, not what you meant to write.

Beta Reader

Beta readers are volunteers who examine your book and provide feedback. They’re no substitute for professional editors, but beta readers can spot potential issues before you get any further in the editing process.

When it comes to finding beta readers, look for people who are familiar with the subject (nonfiction) or enjoy the genre (fiction). Make sure you choose readers who won’t simply say “it’s great”—while that may be good for your ego, it’s not good for your manuscript. The professionals:

Developmental Editors

Developmental editors usually look at a manuscript’s big-picture items. With nonfiction, those might be suggestions to improve clarity, structure, or the soundness of your book’s argument. For fiction, a developmental editor focuses on characterization, dialogue, and plot development.

Copy Editors

When you think of copy editing, think of grammar. A copy editor gets into how you’re saying what you’re saying. During copyedit, your editor will correct your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. He or she will even point out inconsistencies and errors in language use.


A proofread happens after all the editing is completed, and you’ve moved into layout. By this point, you and your editors have caught as many typos or mistakes as possible already. After your editing is done, it is not the time to make a lot of changes—so the proofread is time to catch lingering mistakes that have cropped up before your book is finalized for printing. This job is best for someone who specializes in looking at the finest details and has never read your book before.

What is Developmental Editing?

A developmental edit is often very involved and looks at the big picture, as well as any nuances an author might miss in their own review of the manuscript. While many quick fixes for your manuscript may allow you to check for characters’ names or other basic problems, a developmental edit takes it a step further and looks at the “why” and “how” of the characters’ motives, their descriptions, and other aspects of writing.

A developmental edit should always be done before a line edit, and there are many things you can do before starting the line editing process to make sure your story works. A developmental edit can help you achieve the clarity you need to move your story in the direction it needs.

My process with developmental edits involves the following:

  • manuscript content to suggest and implement structure changes.
  • Identifying plot holes, theme, premise, symbolism, tension, pacing, character development (motivation, inconsistencies, etc), inconsistent dialogue or tone, etc).
  • The review of these points is usually added to the manuscript in comments using Track Changes in Word. I have found over the years that this is the easiest way to do the markup because it allows the author to understand my intention and then decide if those questions and concerns are relevant to the story.
  • Recommending solutions to identified problems in a 1-2 page summary of the internal comments I use throughout the manuscript. Every developmental edit I provide includes this summary and has the finer points of the internal comments to better explain where I think the story might have some issues or where common problems like tropes might need to be addressed to make the story more unique and less like other similar stories out there.

Examples: Plot improvements, structural analysis, dialogue or action or description/prose needed to further the story.

Sometimes, developmental edits display most important plot issues or times in which the plot falls flat or needs to be fleshed out. Like with any type of edit, however, the editor is merely a sounding board. It is up to the writer to make the advised edits and may involve multiple conversations to smooth out any wrinkles uncovered in the review process.

I live in the Show Me State, and as a Missourian, I’m often skeptical when offered with subjective information. I bring this skepticism in my editing because that critical eye benefits writers and challenges improvement Outside their writing in such a way that allows them to improvement.

What is Line Editing?

Editors are, by nature, picky. Line edits bring out the pickier side of editors because the process is very close to the manuscript. In other words, while the “big picture” story is important to editors in line edits, the finer details are tuned in this step in the process.

Line edits are a little more basic than developmental edits and involve the following general processes:

  • Editing for spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax
  • Suggestions to sentence structure and word echoic

Line edits are not proofreading, but they have to contain searching on the sticky information that make an author uncomfortable, which include the tone an individual makes use of to talk as opposed to some other individual or a homophone used incorrectly. It is usually endorsed that a person who hires a line editor additionally is going through the proofreading method later. A proofreader can seize the tiny mistakes that a writer or editor would possibly omit with inside the line modifying procedure. For very long projects, such as books that span 70,000 words or more, the writer and editor might leave out something, so it’s constantly a good idea to still bring in a proofreader before publishing. 

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