If you’ve been researching editing and editors, you’ll know by now that there’s a wide range of services on offer. So how do you know what you’re going to get, and whether you'll get your money’s worth?
Read on to learn about the different types of editing, and which you need.
Disclaimer: Before we get started, note that editors often use the terms below interchangeably, they might just say ‘editing’, or they might offer some bits and pieces from each of the different categories. This is why it’s important to ask about what’s included in the package you’re considering. Better yet, ask for a sample edit – then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
Editing type 1: Developmental editing
A developmental edit looks at the overall structure and content of your book at the changes you can make to improve it.
Note that, depending on the editor, a developmental edit might not involve much actual editing. That means no corrections to your spelling and grammar, no reorganizing or cutting your content, and no rewriting awkward passages. Instead, a developmental edit focuses on giving you feedback so you can make the changes.
At Grammar Factory, we’ll go through a book and put together a 5,000- to 10,000-word report on it, covering:
Then we hand the report over so you can make the changes.
If you’re like most of our clients, that won’t be very appealing. After all, you’ve just spent weeks or months writing your book, and now we’re asking you to rewrite it? Isn’t there some way we could do it for you?
Fortunately, that's where structural editing comes in.
Editing type 2: Structural editing
A structural edit also looks at the overall structure and content of your book but, unlike a developmental edit, here the editor makes the changes for you. This means that a structural edit considers all your objectives as an author:
The editor then restructures your entire book to fit your vision. This might involve cutting back content (we cut as much 50% of the drafts we look at, but 15-25% is more typical), creating a new structure, and making recommendations about new content that you can add.
Essentially, a structural edit makes your book as effective as it can be for both your readers and your brand.
What’s included in a structural edit?*
If this is your first book, or you haven’t gotten a lot of feedback yet, then it’s best to start with a structural edit. You’ll be surprised by some of the suggestions and equally surprised at how much more smoothly your book flows once an editor has reviewed it.
Editing type 3: Copyediting
A copyedit (also known as a line edit) focuses on your book’s readability, and ensures your writing flows smoothly and makes sense to your readers.
While a structural edit looks at the book as a whole, a copyedit looks at paragraphs and sentences and at correcting your spelling and grammar. This means that, while individual paragraphs may be restructured and reworked to improve readability, a copyedit won’t look at the structure of the entire book.
What’s included in a copyedit?*
If you’re an experienced writer (e.g., this is your second or third book, or you’ve been working as a professional writer for a number of years), and/or you've worked one-on-one with a good writing coach, you may be able to go straight to a copyedit. However, consider requesting a sample edit when you get a quote, so your editor can make a professional recommendation about the best type of editing for your book.
Editing type 4: Proofreading
Proofreading only focuses on your spelling, grammar, punctuation, typos and consistency. A proofread is like a more accurate version of spell check (and believe me – you want a more accurate version of spell check).
What’s included in a proofread?*
So if you’re looking for editing that focuses on spelling, grammar, and punctuation, a proofread can help.
However, most writers can’t send their manuscript directly to a proofreader as, although they’ll check your grammar, they won’t look at your book’s readability or structure. And – as I’m sure you’ve experienced from looking at some instruction manuals – just because something is grammatically correct, doesn’t mean it makes sense.
For the most part, I recommend you start with a structural edit, and then progress to a copyedit or proofread.
* Note that packages vary from editor to editor. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before you agree to work with anyone.