Line editing, copyediting, substantive editing, developmental editing, stylistic editing, structural editing… that one simple word encompasses so many different things! Making the decision to engage the services of a professional editor for your novel is a really smart move. But while you know that you need editing, the question is, what kind of editing?

While there is industry consensus on certain aspects of editing, it’s important to remember that every editor uses their own system when it comes to defining their services. It’s vital, then, that you have a clear understanding upfront of what you’re buying before you put any money down. Make sure your editor has explained to you in detail (and in writing) what you’ll be getting before you engage them.

To make things a little simpler, we’ve divided editing services into three broad categories. They are: content editing, stylistic editing, and final-eye editing.

Content editing

Content editing focuses on the “big picture” of your novel. This involves your editor advising you on what is and isn’t working with your storyline, your characters, the structure of your narrative – just about anything and everything, really. The purpose of this kind of editing is to give you feedback that you can use to revise and rewrite your novel and make it the best it can be.

Content editing can be referred to as developmental editing, substantive editing, or structural editing. Many editors also offer this kind of feedback in the form of a manuscript assessment, editorial letter, or critique. These services may or may not include a report giving an overview of the editor’s impressions and advice, and/or comments on the manuscript itself. Some editors also offer continuing support during the revision process in the form of book coaching.

Pricing structures can vary for this kind of editing. Charging per the hour is common, but this can make it a little difficult for you to know upfront how much it’s going to cost you. Some editors offer a flat rate for manuscript assessments, or charge by the word or page. These pricing structures obviously make it easier for you to know exactly how much it’s going to cost you.

At Author Secret, we offer two different kinds of content editing for authors who have already finished the first draft of their novels: the manuscript assessment and developmental editing. We also offer ongoing support in the form of book coaching for authors who are still trying to finish their novels.

Stylistic editing

Stylistic editing focuses less on the storyline of your novel and more on its mechanics. Your editor will recast sentences that are clumsy or unclear; make sure that your style remains consistent throughout; and identify any problem areas that you may need to revisit. He or she may also move sentences or paragraphs around for the sake of clarity or flow. Basically, stylistic editing is about conveying your story in the most effective and impactful way possible.

Stylistic editing is most commonly referred to as copyediting, but is also known as line editing. Usually, your editor will make amendments to your manuscript using track changes in a Word document (but again, every editor has their own system).

Pricing structures also vary from editor to editor, but you can expect to pay by the hour, page or word. At Author Secret, copyediting forms part of our production services. (If you’re interested in copyediting as a standalone service, please contact us and we’d be happy to provide a free sample edit and quote.)

Final-eye editing

Final-eye editing is usually called proofreading. As the name suggests, it’s the final kind of editing that your novel will undergo before being released. Proofreading takes place on the typeset manuscript (i.e. the text that your book designer has laid out for you to send to the printer or upload on Amazon). It is intended to catch any small errors that may have been missed during copyediting, or introduced during typesetting.

Proofreading is normally charged for by the word, or occasionally by the page. At Author Secret, proofreading is included in our production packages.

So what kind of editing does your book really need?

As a self-published author, your aim should be to produce the best quality product you possibly can. Your book is an investment; if it is produced to a high standard, you’ll have a better chance of selling more copies.

So, the short answer to this question is: all three. The advice of an editor will be invaluable to you novel. Twitter Having a professional review and assess your manuscript will mean that you have a solid base when you begin revising your novel. The perspective of an outsider who knows their stuff will benefit not only your book in the short term, but your skills as a writer in the long term.

Of course, like anything in life, editing can be expensive if it’s done right. If your budget is limited, you may have to be choosy about which editing services you go for. At the very least, you should have your novel copyedited before release. Remember that proofreading is not a replacement for copyediting – proofreading is intended to pick up little errors, not to correct grammar and stylistic issues. Copyediting should therefore be considered the bare minimum for self-publishing authors.

Do you have any questions? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave us a comment below, or get in touch!