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What Will an Editor Do For You?

We've already discussed the fact that editing is key to the success of making your work into a literary smash hit. Should you choose not to do the editing yourself, what can you expect from an editor?

The editor is someone who checks over all of your work. They look at the word choices, spelling, punctuation, plot, formatting, etc. Whomever you select should be good a fact-checking, especially if your work is non-fiction. But fiction or not, your editor NEEDS to be good at paying attention to details.

Editors might be the last set of eyes to evaluate a book before it is published. Some editors will work with an author to take a book from its concept stage all the way to completion, helping the author to turn an idea into a finished product. Depending on the type of editor, they might make plot suggestions to improve the story.

But not every editor does every type of editing. There are:

  • Developmental Editors

  • Line Editors

  • Copy Editors

  • Proofreaders

The cost of hiring these editors descends accordingly, with developmental costing the most and proofreaders costing the least. This is of course if you are choosing to publish your work yourself. Getting a manuscript accepted to be published by an industry-standard publishing house does not cost you out of pocket but will typically involve you signing the rights of your work over to the publishing house for a set period of time.

That's another blog post entirely though.

Let's start with Developmental Editors. These are the ones you would want to start with. They will look for inconsistencies in the story, plot holes, forgotten characters, and just ways in general that you could improve your manuscript. If your book is non-fiction, they will be on the lookout for logical inconsistencies, structural deficiencies, and weak arguments. These, however, ARE the most expensive editors.

Next, we have Line Editors. You may think by the name that these editors would go through your manuscript line by line. They do not. They take an overall, big-picture approach to your manuscript. If the big picture is what you want, you may as well stick to the Developmental Editor.

Then there are the Copy Editors. These will correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, dialogue format, and syntax. Basically, their focus is on style and tone. They will see to it that the work is clear and consistent with a smooth flow between sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. This is what the average person sees in their mind's eye when they think of an editor.

Finally, there are Proofreaders. The proofreaders are the final stage of in the journey of your manuscript to the goal of publishing. They will see to it that the book has proper grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. They will also proofread the finalized formatting and let you know if the book is ready to go to printing and publishing. Proofreaders will cost the least of all editors, but they also spend the least amount of time of all the different types of editors, so that is fair.

Contrary to popular belief, software should not replace the human element when it comes to editing your book.

If you should choose to edit your book yourself, please keep this in mind: If you did well in English in high school or college, it doesn't necessarily mean you will be a good editor. Neither does being a good author. Writing and Editing are two distinctly different occupations. Both need practice, learning, and dedication. Skill at one does not guarantee skill at the other. Great editors will have years of experience in the writing and publishing world.

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