Publishing 101: What Kind of Edits Do I Need Right Now?

We need to spend some time talking about what kinds of edits there are before evaluating what you need. At a minimum, most manuscripts need to go through at least three rounds of edits. Copyediting, Line Editing, and Proofreading.

That said, there are a few more options that might take your novel from good to GREAT!

Developmental Editing

In developmental editing, your entire manuscript is thoroughly and in-depth reviewed. Your writing is examined in all aspects, from individual words and sentences to the overall structure and style. Among the concerns addressed in this edit are plot and character issues.

Developmental editing considers your target audience and assesses your work in relation to industry standards and expectations. Once your manuscript has been reshaped and revised, it will be ready for copy editing and proofreading.

  • I wrote a book, but I don’t know if I’m leaving the right impression. I need help understanding the best way to present the story to get the emotions that I want.

Line Editing

Many people confuse line editing with copyediting. Unlike copyediting, it refers to an edit that falls between copyediting and developmental editing in intensity. A line editor analyzes each sentence in your book line by line.

It is essential for an editor to pay attention to the word choice and power of a sentence. A good editor considers the syntax of sentences and whether they need trimming or tightening. Line editing makes your prose come alive.

  • I wrote a short story, but when I read it out loud, it doesn’t sound impactful.
  • I know less is more, but I don’t know how to cut down or increase my word count without sacrificing my story.

Copyediting

A copyeditor spends three to five weeks reviewing your work for spelling, grammatical and punctuation mistakes. They are going to make sure that your content is consistent. Do you consistently use blonde or blond? Color or Colour? Both can be correct depending on whether you are using US-based English or EU, but if you switch back and forth throughout your manuscript, the reader might get dizzy!

They are also going to look for story inconsistencies and flow. Did your main character just teleport to another room? It happens more than you think! Your copy editor will catch that.

  • I wrote a book but I’m worried that it doesn’t look professional.
  • I wrote a story and I want to know how I can make it better.

Proofreading

This will be the very last chance to edit your book before it goes to publication. If you are going through an established publishing company, they will not miss this step, and it may be done after a demo is printed. Rarely does something look as good on paper as it does in your completed manuscript.

That means this step is crucial if you self-publish as well. I make it a policy that if I copy and line edit your manuscript, I cannot proofread it. You will always need a different set of eyes on your final draft because editors are humans too! If we find and correct 98% of your manuscript, you still need the proofreader to catch the remaining 2%.

  • My novel has already been through a round of edits and I’m ready to submit it for publishing. Can you proofread for whatever we might have missed?