Monday, December 17, 2012

What Are the Different Types of Editing?

So, you've written a book and you've gone over it a thousand times. You've shown it to your friends and family and maybe they caught one or two typos, or suggested different wording here and there. But, is it good enough to submit to a publisher? Probably not. You need to give your work to a professional, so that they can bring the added polish you need to your manuscript.
I knew exactly what I had to do if I wanted my book to succeed. After talking to several members of The Word Guild and attending a Write! Canada conference I chose Word Alive Press to help me polish my book and get it into the hands of the public.
Yes, I went the self-publishing route again, however this time it wasn't just a matter of printing off a certain amount of books, now it would get distribution and promotion throughout Canada and into the United States. I wasn't on my own, the wonderful people at WAP worked with me, made suggestions and encouraged me as I made changes to my book.
The new book would have the same title, but a different cover. One that was more generic so that it would sell not just at Christmas, but at any time of the year. I also added more to the story, so that the book ended up with 100 extra pages than the original. Since I added more to the book I knew it once again needed a substantive edit. After finding someone suitable for that job I then sent everything to WAP (Word Alive Press) who did a copy edit.
Perhaps you are now wondering what the difference is between a copy edit and a substantive edit. How many different types of editing services are out there? The following may help you with your next project.
  • Developmental/Project Editing - a developmental editor assists the author as a writing coach by taking the rough draft of your manuscript from its initial concept and makes suggestions about content, organization, and presentation. A developmental editor will incorporate input from the author, reviewers and consultants. Plot and characterization will be analyzed and reworked if needed. Suggestions will be given for rewriting confusing and awkward areas to create better flow. Sentence structure, punctuation, grammar and spelling may also be considered. This type of editor is basically with you from the beginning, helping you to develop your manuscript.  You would probably have a developmental editor under contract with a publishing company. I don't know of any self-publishing companies who provide this type of editor.
  • Substantive or Structural Editing - many times this type of edit may mean rewriting your entire manuscript! So, don't take it personally. I rewrote my manuscript at least 12 times. A substantive edit can involve marking errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling, editorial comments on style, structure, content and flow. It will involve reorganizing sections and paragraphs for better flow of content. Heavy editing will check URL links,  captions, references, foot notes, quotes, bibliography,etc. to make sure permission has been granted to use copyrighted material. It will check your formatting, page numbers, index, table of contents, etc., to make sure everything is where it should be. This is where you have to let go of your book and trust your editor because many times they will want to change something that you don't want changed. You need to keep in mind that they are trying to present you with a clean manuscript, so trusting your editor is important.
  •  Copy-Editing - A copy editor will check for grammar, style and punctuation. They will also make sure your work is complete and consistent. Usually, a copy-editor works on a manuscript that has already been heavily edited. Formatting styles, such as headlines in bold, are checked for consistency as well.
  • Proofreading - is not done by your mother after you have written your manuscript! Proofreading is done after your MS has already been heavily edited by a professional. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, editing and proofreading are two different stages of the revision process. Both demand close and careful reading, but they focus on different aspects of the writing and employ different techniques. Basically, copy editors get involved in the book production process at an earlier stage than proofreaders. Typically, once a book has been commissioned, a copy editor will work with the author to bring it up to a publishable standard. The proofreader comes in once the typesetter has set the book. Their job is to read the typeset 'proofs' and mark up any errors they find. Unlike the copy editor, the proofreader is not concerned with improving the text, and it is not their role to make stylistic changes. Their job is simply to look for clear mistakes (typos, omissions, etc.) and ensure that they do not make it into the finished book.
One more word on editing - just because someone hangs out a sign and says they "do editing" does not make them an editor. Editors - good ones, will have had special training and should be certified. If they aren't certified and can't show you the proof that they are, just say "thanks, but no thanks" and be on your way. The same goes for proofreaders. You may love to read and might catch the occasional error in a novel here and there, but that doesn't make you a proofreader. Again, they have training and are certified as well. Investigate your editor/proofreader before you place your work in their hands. You'll be glad you did!

Until next time!

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thanks Laura, for providing this helpful overview of editing types.
Since there's a measure of overlap, I need this kind of help in distinguishing one kind from the other from time to time.

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