Developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, proofreading ... what on earth is the difference and what's best for you when self-publishing?
This post featured in Joel Friedlander's Carnival of the Indies #79
A potted guide to the different levels of editing ...
If you’re a beginner writer and you’re planning to self-publish, you’ll be thinking about getting your book fit for market. Some of you might not realize that there are different levels of editing. And even if you do, you might be fuzzy about what distinguishes each service or what it’s usually called.
No shame in that, believe me – even among professional publishers and independent editors the terminology differs. Consensus be damned! The irony that this lack of clarity and consistency exists in a profession that prides itself on, well, clarity and consistency isn’t lost on me or my colleagues!
In an effort to untangle the issue, I’m offering you a potted guide to the different levels of editing – what each one deals with, what you might expect it to be called, and the questions to ask when you’re sourcing editorial help.
At the bottom of the article is a PDF that you can download to your preferred device and refer to whenever you want.
Think of the editorial process like a play with several acts: writing, drafting, sourcing feedback from beta readers, self-editing, developmental editing or manuscript evaluation, line editing, copyediting, proofreading, publishing. The elements in bold are what we’re focusing on today.
In a nutshell
Basically, there are two levels of work going on – the macro and the micro.
What terms should you use when sourcing editorial help?
There’s a question! My advice is that you explain what you want rather than worrying too much about what it’s called. This is because different editors define their services in different ways. So what should you do?
So, that’s it for now. I hope you’ve found this discussion of the different levels of editing useful. If there are particular questions that you want clarification on, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to answer them.
As promised, here’s your guide! Just click on the image to download it to your device.
Louise Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with independent authors of commercial fiction, particularly crime, thriller and mystery writers.
She is an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), a member of ACES, a Partner Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and co-hosts The Editing Podcast.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Fiction Editor & Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, connect via Facebook and LinkedIn, and check out her books and courses.
'Louise uses her expertise to hone a story until it's razor sharp, while still allowing the author’s voice to remain dominant.'
'I wholeheartedly recommend her services ... Just don’t hire her when I need her.'
J B Turner
'Sincere thanks for a beautiful and elegant piece of work. First class.'
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