That book manuscript you have labored over and bled for is now complete. It’s time to hire a professional to help polish the finished product. But what type of editing does your book truly need? First and foremost, it needs YOU. Self-editing can not only help your budget, but it helps improve your writing over time, according to Wendy Dean of The Omnibus Publishing, Baltimore. Never send an editor your first draft! Don’t hire anyone until you’re ready to receive and accept frank, unbiased advice on your work. Once you reach this point, it’s time to consider hiring a professional, ensuring your manuscript is its best possible version.
Newbie writers often find it difficult assessing editing needs because they may not have a keen grasp on their strengths and weaknesses. The seasoned author will have a better sense of where they need assistance. While a great editor will be able to do all of what follows, it’s important to understand types of editing and where to find help.
Develpmental (also known as Substantive or Structural) Editing – This is a big picture edit. It looks at everything from plots and subplots, to pace and character, and from flow and consistency. This editor considers sensibility of text and character development. Additionally this editor determines if paragraphs need moving, or if your wordy description of a rain storm needs trimming. Basically, if it needs fixing this editor will point it out. Developmental editing is time intensive and by nature the most expensive type.
Line Editing– True line editing is exactly what it sounds like and falls between Develepmental and Copy Editing. This editor will look at your manuscript line by line to determine clarity, word choice, and sentence meaning. He/She will determine if the sentences are the correct length or need trimming. Does your word choice uphold the power of the sentence or bring it down? A great line editor will do this while keeping the author’s voice intact.
Copyediting– Easily the lightest type of editing, copyeditors will look at mechanical and consistency issues in your manuscript. This includes grammar, spelling, and punctuation corrections. Additionally, this editor will address any inconsistensies in small details throughout the text. For example, consistent spelling of the town or character name. As far as budget goes, this is the least expensive type of editing.
Mechanical Editing– Often listed as part of copyediting but separated here as this type of editing refers to the application of a type, or style, of writing. For example, correcting the technical application of styles such as The Chicago Manual of Style or writing for research using The Modern Language Association (MLA).
Not all editors are right for you. Once you determine the correct type of editing for the book you’ve written, it’s time to find the person who best fits your needs. Do your homework! Be sure to find someone with the right qualifcations, recommendations from sources you trust, and who fits into your budet. Check out these places:
Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA)– The online EFA member directory offers clients free and instant access to the diverse assortment of highly skilled publishing professionals who make up EFA membership. By far a favorite site among authors.
Networking – Ask experienced authors where they found the editor they utilize. Ask if they know of an editor who might be available. Referrals are a great way to start vetting a potential freelancer.
Jane Friedman– While there are a myriad of “expert” bloggers on writing/writing resources, this site takes top prize. With over 20 years of documented, vettable experience, Jane Friedman’s blog is a must for advice. Find everything from writing and editing to the business side of authorship.
Remember, not every editor is right for you. Do your homework, educate yourself, and be honest about what you need. Above all, keep writing!