Writing a book is a labor of love, a journey of creativity and dedication. It's a journey that often starts with a spark of inspiration and ends with a polished masterpiece ready to be shared with the world—if you do it right! In between these stages lies the crucial process of editing. Too often, writers fall into the trap of thinking they don’t need an editor or understand what the different types of book editing are for.
Just as a sculptor refines their creation with careful chiseling, a writer hones their work through editing. And, yes, just because you hire an editor doesn’t mean you’re off the hook! You should still do everything you can to get your manuscript as polished as possible before you hand it off to an editor. By the way, book editors typically charge by the word, which is another reason you should do a few rounds of self-editing before you hand it over.
As we mentioned last week, one big mistake of DIY/self-published authors is that they decide their manuscript is finished too soon and hit “publish” before putting it through the paces. Editing happens in layers, and it is the most crucial aspect of getting your book ready to be published.
In this article, we'll explore the four types of book editing and why having a professional book editor is an essential part of the journey.
What Are the Four Types of Book Editing?
1. Structural Editing (Developmental Editing)
Structural editing, or developmental editing, is the first step in the editing process. At this stage, the editor focuses on the big picture. They assess the overall structure, plot, pacing, character development (if you’re writing fiction), and themes of the manuscript. They help you identify inconsistencies, gaps in logic, or holes that need further exploration or refinement. This type of editing ensures that your story flows smoothly, engages readers, and has a sound foundation.
Unsurprisingly, this is the most expensive type of editing.
2. Line Editing
Line editing examines the nuances of language and expression. Line editors focus on the author's voice, tone, and style. They evaluate word choice and paragraph structure to enhance the writing's rhythm and impact, and suggest changes to help your sentences flow. Line editing adds a layer of sophistication to your writing, helping you to create a more immersive experience for your readers.
Copyediting dives deeper into the text, focusing on sentence structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. A copyeditor polishes your prose, making sure it adheres to the rules of language and chosen style guide (the Chicago Manual of Style is the most common style guide for books), and is consistent throughout. Copy editors correct spelling errors, fix grammatical mistakes, and ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and coherent. Copyediting enhances the readability of your work and ensures that it meets professional publishing standards.
Proofreading is the final stage of editing, focusing on catching any remaining errors before publication. Proofreaders meticulously review your manuscript for typos, spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and formatting inconsistencies—most often after the book has been formatted. While it might seem like a minor step, proofreading is crucial in presenting a polished, professional final product!
Why Do I Need a Book Editor?
Now that we've explored the four kinds of editing, let's address the question we get most from authors (especially those working on their first books): Why do I need a book editor?
There are a few crucial reasons, but the primary one is that editors are well-versed in the different levels of editing, and they’ll know exactly what you do and don’t need. An editor’s job isn’t just to point out mistakes in your work…it’s to make your work the best it can be! Since editing can be a lengthy process, you want to make sure that you have someone on your side who knows what you need. Hiring a skilled editor can turn a good book into a great one!
Here are a few more reasons you need a book editor.
Fresh Perspective: After spending countless hours crafting your manuscript, it's easy to become blind to its shortcomings. A professional book editor brings fresh eyes and an objective viewpoint to your work, identifying areas that you might have missed. Unlike your buddy reading your manuscript, they won’t be afraid to tell you what your manuscript needs.
Refinement: Editing is a collaborative process, and you will work closely with your editor to refine your manuscript. Editors provide constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement, often providing multiple rounds of editing to help you elevate your writing to its full potential.
Quality Assurance: Nothing says sloppy and unprofessional more than careless typos! A well-edited book reflects professionalism and dedication. It's a sign that you've taken the time to ensure your work is of the highest quality. Thorough editing helps ensure your book is free from embarrassing mistakes that can distract readers from your overall message.
Enhanced Reading Experience: A well-edited book is a joy to read. It flows smoothly, engages readers, and immerses them in your story.
Hiring a professional book editor is an investment in your writing journey. A professional editor will help you determine which level, or levels, of editing your manuscript needs. Then they’ll provide the expertise, objectivity, and skills needed to transform your manuscript into a polished masterpiece. If you do nothing else before you publish, hire an editor!
Our Concierge Publishing Package includes high-touch support from start to published! In the project setup, we offer a full assessment of your manuscript to outline strengths and any areas of concern. Line editing and proofreading are included (developmental editing, if needed, is a separate charge).
Need help evaluating your non-fiction or memoir manuscript? Submit your manuscript and we will provide a free evaluation of whether it’s a good fit for publication with Sulit Press.