How to Find the Right Editor, Part 2: Types of Editing

by Erin Brenner
You spend a lot of time sweating the small stuff in your manuscript, employing all the skills and gifts at your disposal. But at some point, you have to let someone else handle your copy. You have to hire an editor. In this series, we’ll explore how to find and hire the right editor for your manuscript.
In part two: how to decide what type of editing you need done.

What Kind of Editing Do I Need?

You know you need someone to look over your writing, maybe spruce it up a bit, but what exactly do you want your editor to do? Do you want someone to look at your ideas, help your organize or develop them? Do you need someone to read through and correct all the typos and nothing else? Most likely, you need something in between. Here are the definitions for different stages of editing I use:

  • Developmental editing: working with acquisition editors or authors to develop a text or evaluate a manuscript for content and accuracy.
  • Line (substantive) editing: correcting copy for organization, structure, transitions, redundancy, jargon, sexist language, awkward construction, excessive use of passive voice, wordiness, logic, tone, and more.
  • Copyediting: correcting copy for spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, usage, sentence structure, sentence length, and paragraph length.
  • Fact checking: checking factual accuracy of the copy, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, URLs, dates, and other numbers.
  • Editorial proofreading: correcting copy (“cold-reading”) for spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and style.
  • Proofreading: comparing the latest version of a document (“live copy”) with the previous version (“dead copy”), including any indicated changes in the previous version.

If you’re still not sure of what you need, make a list of things you want the editor to correct and what you don’t want her to correct. A well-rounded editor should be able to handle your list. She should also be able to tell you what your copy needs if you’re totally at sea. My own service is customizable. I talk to the client about what kinds of things they want me to correct. I will give an honest opinion of what the copy needs, but in the end it’s your project. I’ll do what you want.

In This Series

This article originally appeared on The Writing Resource.