Editing is a crucial part of your journey to publication, but it can be confusing knowing exactly which editing service you need. Never fear, we’re here to help! Our handy guide explains everything you need to know before you embark on your editing journey.
Types of editing
You’ve likely heard of more than one editing service before but people often group them together in a confusing mishmash termed ‘editing’. They are:
- Developmental editing
- Substantive editing
The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) names the last three as levels of editing, each with a unique role to play in improving your work.
If your budget is limited, copyediting normally offers the best value for money. You won’t receive significant feedback on your writing or the structure, but your editor will remove most errors in your work.
TIP: Book a developmental edit when you want general feedback on your writing.
A developmental edit is also known as a manuscript appraisal. A developmental editor does not usually make any edits within your manuscript. Their focus is on the story or document as a whole and your writing style and choices.
Your editor will:
- Read your manuscript.
- Note what doesn’t work.
- Note what does work.
- Use their notes to write a report for you.
- Meet with you (online) to answer any questions you have.
A developmental editing report tells you what you can do to improve your manuscript and highlights areas that are well written. It’s a great tool for improving your writing and is usually inexpensive. You can book this editing service at any stage of your writing process, but the more you’ve written the more valuable it will be.
You can learn a lot from one developmental edit and use this to improve your future writing. E.g., your editor might point out that you use the passive voice a lot. Knowing this, you can change this habit in your future work.
TIP: Book a substantive edit when you want help with your story as a whole: Is it suitable for your audience? Is it well-structured? Is it repetitive? Can some information be deleted?
A structural edit focuses on the appropriateness of your work for your audience and your editor will make changes and add comments directly in your manuscript. It looks at the manuscript’s:
- Expertise level
Your editor gives you recommendations about the structure and content of your manuscript, the language and style of your writing and the presentation of your work. This includes:
- Content completeness
- Content appropriateness
- Suggestions for rewriting and restructuring content
- Language appropriateness
- Flow, clarity and sense
- Repetitiveness and wordiness
As you can see, a substantive edit includes a lot of big-picture work, so substantive editors do not edit for smaller errors during this type of editing.
TIP: Book a copyedit when you are happy with your work and are thinking about publication.
Copyediting is a popular editing service and one we often recommend for our authors. A copyedit corrects errors at the sentence level and is what writer’s typically mean with the term ‘editing’.
A copyeditor reads your document and uses tracked changes to correct any sentence-level errors and rewrite the occasional sentence. Errors include:
If your document needs a lot of rewriting, a substantive edit is necessary because a copyedit only includes minimal rewriting.
A proofread is no substitute for a copyedit.
TIP: Book a proofread once a professional editor has copyedited your work and you have formatted it for publication.
Proofreading is the last step in any editing journey. Many writers confuse copyediting and proofreading or think of them as one and the same. This is far from the truth: both editing steps are crucial to polished, publishable writing.
This post explains the differences in detail.
Your editor normally proofreads your document after it has been copyedited and formatted for publication. It’s an opportunity for a professional eye to have one last look to catch any small errors before it’s published. Errors might include missing words, spelling mistakes, formatting problems, etc.
If a professional editor has never edited your document, proofreading is not the editing service for you. A proofread only picks up errors that the copyedit left behind. There is no opportunity to fix consistent style and usage errors. Your work needs a copyedit if it has not been previously edited.
Which editing service do you need?
Now that you’re an expert in the types of editing available, you can book an editing service that’s right for your current project. If you’re still not sure, give us a call and our accredited editors will help you choose.