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Different Types of Editing – how to choose what level you need as a writer


When I published Coffee Break Companion I acquired the services of an editor to help polish off my manuscript before I uploaded it to Createspace. Deciding who to use, and what services I required was a challenge, as I had no idea of the range of services available, where to look for an editor, or what help I needed to ensure my manuscript was publication ready. It’s a minefield for the uninitiated, but hopefully this post will help a little.

I will be better prepared next time I am ready to publish. Whilst I still need to do more research on editors, I do now at least, understand the different types of editing and what help I might need.

How did I learn this? I took a short course in Proofreading and Editing with the Centre of Excellence (If you are interested in any of their courses I recommend signing up for the emails and following them on Facebook as there are often discount codes for up to 70% off the courses they offer). This course is great for helping you understand the basics, but if you are looking to become a proofreader or editor yourself I would recommend you look for something more comprehensive. For my needs this was adequate and fun.

So, what did I learn? The names used by an editor for their services may vary but on the whole there are typically three different types of editing service (although again many may offer a wider range of services to fill in niche areas or meet specific demands):

Developmental editor – may also be known as structural or substantive editing, even book coaching. Here you will receive help with the overall concept, outline and structure of your book. This is the big picture of editing looking at everything that will make your book readable and enjoyable. Looking at things from having chapters and paragraphs in the right order, to likeability of your characters, realistic dialogue and believable plots. There is likely to be little/no work on spelling, punctuation and grammar (depending on who you use, of course), with these things being more for the next type of editing service…

Copy Editor/ Line Editor – This is a process of reviewing and correcting written work to improve its readability, accuracy, sense and style. The editing could be light, medium or heavy, with light being the baseline focussing on grammar and punctuation etc., and heavy, which involves looking more deeply at sentence meaning, word choice, clarity and consistency of style – using a style sheet if you have one. If you don’t have a style sheet, you might want to do one (I’ll write about this in another post). Here you would also expect the editor to be checking things like copyright and references if you have used any material that might need this.

Proofreader – This one probably makes the most sense to us all, the proofreader gives a final check over a manuscript to correct any errors in things such as spelling and punctuation. They will not be looking at grammar, style, fact-checking or copyright.

Always remember even any editor is not infallible, typo’s and errors can still slip through the net, so it’s always worth having another proofread yourself (or get someone else to do it) when you get a proof copy of your book before you hit that publish button. And, it’s not the end of the world if something slips through, I can’t count the number of times I’ve read books from huge name authors, and top publishing houses where there are glaring errors, but if you are self-publishing people do tend to be harder on you for any mistakes. I do self edit my blog posts, but I hope people understand that this is the real me, without the benefit of professional editing, so there will be times I miss a typo or something – I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t!

On top of this I have also determined that there are additional, not necessarily editing, services that you (or I) may require assistance with, that are usually paid for separately, not included as editing services, these include help with writing a blurb, synopsis or press-release, again there may be other people who offer these services in conjunction with editing services or they may be completing independent PR type services.

Of course, I learnt a lot more than this on the course, but I just wanted to give you the basics of the different types of editing to help you choose what level you may need as a writer. I might share some of the other things I have learnt in other blog posts, but I hope this post has helped somewhat for now.

Have you used an editor? Would you recommend them? (If so, please leave their website/Facebook page in the comments to help others find them)

I’ll start with Emma Mitchell my editor for Coffee Break Companion you can find her at Creating Perfection

Have you come across any different editing services, in addition to these main types? What are they?

Don’t forget to join me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my activities on my author page – S.L.Grigg

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Author:

Self-published author whose first book Coffee Break Companion, a collection of short stories and poems is now available on Amazon. S.L.Grigg lives in Bromsgrove with her family. Working in the NHS and enjoying reading, Pilates and travel, amongst other things when she isn't too busy writing.

12 thoughts on “Different Types of Editing – how to choose what level you need as a writer

  1. As someone who one day might have a books she’d like to publish I am always so grateful when those who’ve gone before me share they’re experiences! Thank you for giving us a taste of what’s to come!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your editor. I think personal recommendations help people, as it can be such a minefield trying to find a good editor if you are inexperienced. 😊 xx

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  2. This is such a helpful post. I will definitely be coming back for another read when I get to the editing stage. Thank you so much for your insight.

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  3. I recommend the same editor, she is fantastic. Thank you for sharing this with everyone, what a great place to start. x

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