You know the writing process has several stages, but did you realize there are several stages of editing and types of editors as well? You may find yourself wondering what the next step is for your book, and you will need one or more of these three types of editors to help move the process along. Before you hire your first editor, let’s review each type of editing.
You will get to a point in you writing where you have spilled everything out on paper, or your computer screen, but then wonder how to organize it all. A developmental editor will step in to help make sense of your writing. He or she will be able to guide you in forming chapters, flow, pace, tone, and the overall structure of your book. Think of developmental editing as looking at the big picture of your manuscript. You could also think of it as having all the pieces to build a car but being unsure how they will all fit together. Your developmental editor will help you figure out which piece goes where to have a well-functioning car. Depending on your natural writing abilities, you may or may not require a developmental edit.
It is all about the details at this point! You’ve been reading and re-reading your manuscript, but now it is time for a copy editor to step in. Let the editor read it with a fresh set of eyes. He or she will make sure details are consistent throughout the book (e.g., voice, tense, even spelling), correct grammar and mechanics issues, and ensure clarity throughout your manuscript. You’ve built the car; now let your copy editor make sure your car actually runs. It’s one thing to build a car, but your copy editor will give it a test drive to ensure all the moving parts work properly (AKA everything under the hood is working just right.) This is the stage most people think about when they think about editing.
Whether you are self-publishing or sending your book off to an agent, a proofreader will give the manuscript one last glance. Your proofreader will act as your basic car mechanic. You know your book is working exactly how you want it to overall, but again think about a car: It needs to have the oil checked, windshield fluid added, etc. Could the car run fairly well without this check? Probably yes, but having a proofreader check the details will ensure a smoother trip for you and your passengers (AKA your readers). A proofreader will find that last typo or notice the formatting is just a bit off, ensuring that everything is just right for publishing. All manuscripts can benefit from a copy edit and a proofread, but at the bare minimum, especially if you are planning to self-publish your book, you really need to hire a professional proofreader.
Some editors offer all three services; others specialize in one or two types/levels. A good editor will be up-front about where your manuscript is, what service(s) you need to make your book a success, and how she or he can help you.
Is your book ready for editing services? Are you ready to take your book to the next step? I would love to make sure your manuscript is ready for publishing!