Types of Editing
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
Now that you’ve decided to hire an editor, what type of editor do you need? What are the different types of editing and how can they benefit your manuscript? As promised, we’re taking a deep dive into the vast world of editing!
A Quick Note
While names for different levels of editing are generally consistent across the publishing industry, there can still be a bit of variation, especially when you’re in the self-publishing world.
Brief Overview of Different Types of Editing
Developmental Editing: primary focus is on the overarching story and plot and is especially helpful if you need assistance with the craft of writing or need feedback on the story, characters, and plot as a whole. (Does the writing make sense? Are there gaps or holes in the story? Do these characters feel real?)
Content Editing: less “big-picture” than developmental editing, but still focusing (as the name would suggest) on the content more so than the grammar and correctness of the writing. Content editing is more on the chapter/paragraph level, checking for inconsistencies in the writing and how the writing flows overall. (Do the style and tone match the content? Is there any information the reader is missing?)
Line Editing: a more detailed look, primarily at the sentence/paragraph level, again making sure that sentences and paragraphs flow and have consistency. (Does the writing sound nice? Does it read well? What is the rhythm of the writing?)
Copyediting: editing at the sentence and word level, with a focus on grammar, punctuation, and other small details. This is usually one of the last steps in preparing the manuscript for publishing. (Is the writing correct? Does the writing look good on the page? Is there anything unnecessarily getting in the way of the reader’s experience?)
Proofreading: the final step to give everything the final look-over before the book is published for all to see! (Is everything grammatically correct? Are there any formatting things that have gotten lost in translation from different versions?)
Matching Editing to Manuscripts
As you can see, each of these types of editing has its own niche, its own particular purpose and place in the editing process as a whole. Think of it like baking a cake: you can have an idea of what you want the cake to look like when it’s done, but you can’t start working with the decorations and icing until after you’ve actually made the cake! A manuscript that is in need of developmental editing won’t really benefit from the finer levels of editing like proofreading until the developmental editing is completed. Likewise, a manuscript that just needs a final polish before publishing doesn’t need the same treatment it would get from developmental editing.
Not Sure What Kind of Editing Your Manuscript Needs?
When it comes to self-publishing, it’s up to you to find an editor. There are going to be many options for editors, from companies like Next Page, which offer editing packages and other services to assist you with publishing, to individual editors you can hire from sites like Fiverr. Individual editors may not specify which type of editing they’ll be doing by name but should provide some sort of description of what they’ll be looking for when they’re editing. From that description, you should be able to identify what type of editing they’ll do with your manuscript and the placement it should have in your editing journey.
If an editor offers varying levels of editing, they should also offer some sort of appraisal service to tell you which type they’d recommend for your manuscript. Generally speaking, they may ask for a sample of your manuscript (or possibly the whole manuscript), take some time to review it, and then get back to you with their recommendations and a quote for how much those recommendations would cost. Some companies even offer free or reduced-rate sample edits of a few pages so you can get a feel for the editing style.
How We Do Editing at Next Page
At Next Page, we have three tiers of editing that we offer:
With our Developmental Editing tier, we may include some grammar notes when a certain editor can’t resist a glaring error (that editor is me), but for the most part there will be comments, suggestions, and questions in comments on your manuscript. These comments will pertain to plot, characterization, and other things relating to the craft of writing a story. You’ll want to be sure to review all of our suggestions! If your manuscript was a cake, this step would be like making sure you have all the right ingredients in all the right amounts.
A manuscript that has been edited under our Content/Line Editing tier will similarly have mainly comments on the document, but the comments will focus more on consistency throughout the document, as well as the flow of the language. These comments may tend to be more stylistic rather than a strict right/wrong. For this tier, it’s about making sure the ingredients are mixed well and cooked at the right temperature to get the specific flavor and texture you’re looking for.
The final tier, Proofread/Copyediting is for those who already have their basic ingredients worked out, have already taken their cake out of the oven, and are looking to make it match the vision they’ve had from the start. There may be some minor modifications to the shape of the cake on the edges, but they shouldn’t be too major, and the main focus is on the icing and decorations. Manuscripts with this editing will remind you of schoolwork from English class: grammar corrections directly on the page. There may also be a couple of comments as well if the editor has questions or multiple suggestions.
We hope this article has helped you on your publishing journey! Finding the right type of editing for your manuscript can make the difference between a masterpiece and... well let’s just say, “Nailed It!”
About Next Page
Next Page Editing & Design produces high-quality books that reflect authors' brands, purpose, and impact. We do this through editing, book design, launch support, author branding, and coaching. Once we finish our job, you keep your rights to print, sell, and promote your work while retaining 100% of your book's profits. We call this a "no-strings attached" model.
To request an editing or self-publishing quote, click here.