types of manuscript editing

If you’re researching how to hire a book editor, you will notice that there are different types of manuscript editing. What are the different types of book editing? What do the terms mean? Here’s a handy guide.

find a book editor for your needs

If you’re looking into different types of manuscript editing, you may be coming across incorrect, interchangeable, or misleading terms. Be careful about what you request, and understand the services offered so that you get the most out of your time and financial investment. Questions abound when it comes to looking for editorial services. What is line editing? What is copy editing vs proofreading? Developmental editing vs copy editing? Copy editing vs line editing? Developmental editing vs line editing? Ack! No wonder people get confused.

Below, you will find the terms for different types of manuscript editing that you’ll run into. You will also notice that some editors provide all of these services, some provide only one or two. I do everything, but a proofreader might only do proofreading. While my specialty is developmental editing, your project will arrive copy edited as well. If you’re confused, it’s always best to ask. A reputable editor will have no problem going over their menu of book editing services in detail.

These different types of manuscript editing services, below, are listed in order of comprehensiveness and level of creative feedback on the manuscript, from least to most.

manuscript Proofreading

Proofreading can sometimes confused with copy editing and line editing. But proofreading is a final comb through a manuscript before it goes to print. Proofreaders look for typos, formatting issues, grammatical mistakes, and other minutiae. Writers looking to self-publish will often spend money on proofreading to give their project a final once-over. You shouldn’t expect creative feedback with this type of service.

Manuscript formatting and fact checking are similar services. They involve formatting your manuscript, and checking the accuracy of your work, respectively. Ebook formatting providers and layout designers are in this category as well. These are just some of the services you can purchase piecemeal. While these services are very important, don’t expect creative feedback.

manuscript copy Editing

Copy editing looks at the grammar and mechanics of your manuscript, while checking the project at the sentence level for spelling, style, punctuation, etc. Comments on the overall quality of the writing and writing voice are usually included, but not always. You’ll have to figure out how deeply your potential editor is willing to dive. Copy editing is one step up from proofreading in terms of thoroughness. If you’re still just looking for a service that focuses on the basics of your writing, without a lot of big picture creative feedback, a copy edit is a good call.

Ask any copy editor you’re thinking of hiring about what, exactly, level of detail to expect. Copy editing sometimes floats between proofreading and line editing in terms of definition.

Manuscript line Editing

Line editing involves all of the services provided at the copy editing level, and more. It works with grammar and mechanics, sure, but the feedback now includes comments on plot, character, story, writing voice, readability, and potentially even marketability. Line editing focuses on bigger issues of writing style, voice, and storytelling. Your overall level of writing craft is part of the conversation. If you want feedback on your writing basics, but are also looking for comments on what you’ve written and how to improve it, you will want to research freelance copy editing services at minimum, instead of just purchasing proofreading or copy editing.

manuscript developmental Editing

The most comprehensive and full-service critique you can buy is developmental editing. Investing in developmental editing means you’ll receive everything coming to you in terms of copy editing and line editing, but deep feedback on your writing and storytelling craft. Developmental editing tends to think small and big at the same time, weaving in feedback on all areas of your project, from voice at the sentence level to the overall trajectories of your character and plot. They ask bigger questions about your story, thinking about character change, theme, your use of imagery, and more. Developmental editing can also sometimes be even bigger, taking your place within the publishing industry into consideration.

Some of the editors providing developmental editing services—especially those with publishing industry experience—will even comment on your book’s market chances, how to strengthen the project with an eye toward getting a literary agent, and how to pitch the work. When you purchase developmental editing, you’re really investing in a full-service treatment of your project. That is why costs tend to be highest with this level of service.

hiring an editor Next steps

Now you know more about different types manuscript editing. It’s up to you to decide what level of editorial services you need. Check out further resources on how to find an editor, and get insight into estimates of editorial service rates.

Please don’t hesitate to check out my writing craft book or reach out for editorial services via the contact form, below.

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