There are, broadly, three types of editing: developmental editing (also called content editing), copy editing, and proofreading.
Developmental editing looks at the structure of the whole book. Suggestions are made to improve the clarity, flow, and style of the overall work. While this can be time consuming, it is great to have another pair of eyes checking that the plot works and the story is cohesive.
Copy editing involves reading through the work for style and consistency, as well as spelling and grammar. Changes or suggestions are made on a sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph level.
Proofreading checks for spelling and grammar mistakes, missing punctuation, and formatting errors such as line spacing and paragraph breaks. It is the final step before publication.
I specialise in copy editing and proofreading. For developmental editing, check out the Institute of Professional Editors directory.
What’s right for me?
In an ideal world, you’d go for all three: a developmental edit, then a copy edit, and finally, once your novel has been laid out, a proofread. Self-publishing can be expensive though, and your budget may not stretch to all three.
If you’re a first time author, investing in a developmental edit will help you broaden your storytelling skills. You’ll get feedback on the plot, point of view, characterisation, and pacing. The editorial report I write for a copy edit will address these, but a developmental editor will really help you hone your novel so it is ready for copy editing.
If you’re a more experienced author, or if you’re happy with your story’s overall plot, point of view, and characterisation, or your budget is limited, then a copy edit will help polish your story and increase the quality of your writing.
Once you’ve had your novel edited and you’ve worked in your editor’s revisions, you can design your novel. You may design your novel yourself in Word or InDesign, or you may hire a designer or typesetter. Either way, proofreading your novel once the text has been laid out is a great idea. Proofreading can pick out any lingering typos, inconsistencies, or formatting issues.
Need more help?
Feel free to contact me and we can discuss your project further.
For authors interested in self-editing, I highly recommend Beth Hill’s The Magic of Fiction. Beth gets into the nuts and bolts of polishing your story and getting it ready for publication.
Stephen King’s On Writing is a well-regarded classic, even if you don’t write horror.
If you see NZ writer Paula Morris on any writing festival schedules, sign up! She’s an excellent writer and teacher. I love hearing her speak and always pick up something new from her.