Which Type of Editing is Good for my Book?

What are the Different Ways to Edit a Book?

Your idea and your unique creativity, your signature style, are finally down on paper. Before you publish it for the readers to relish your delightful piece, it is necessary to correct and clarify any errors. Also, one needs to rearrange and reimagine the structure and the idea to make your manuscript the best it can be. Editing the book will enhance the reader’s understanding and enjoyment of your creativity. If professional editing is so crucial to one’s book then it becomes important for a writer to know what editing is and what professional editors do and why editing is required and if you are to present your best work.

You have spent much time formulating your draft and self-editing the book. Hence, in your perspective, the book is complete. You may feel that editing might tamper with the originality of your style. It is important to realise and understand that the author is too close to the text to look at it objectively. To give the readers the best reading experience, it is imperative that people who can act as an impartial sounding board, review the material to increase its effectiveness. Editing in no way interferes with your style. Many times the text escapes authorial intend. Although it is inevitable, considering the unique subjectivity of each reader, its extent could always be controlled. Even after many rewrites, the author’s brain only sees what it expects to see. You may know what you mean to say, but the text might not be as clear to the reader. Hence, fresh eyes of the editor (who also act as first-time readers of the text), can be really helpful to ensure that your words say what you intend them to say.

What is ‘editing a book?’

The process of editing a book can be defined as the process in which a text is prepared for publication by “correcting, condensing, and modifying it.” It is a stage in the writing process where the goal is to improve the draft by correcting the errors and restructuring, to be more explicit, precise and as effective as possible. It involves adding, deleting and rearranging words, reviewing the content and streamlining the overall structure.

Constant edit is the natural process of self-editing that one does while writing. It is mainly the author rewriting their ideas and reviewing them. On the other hand, a draft edit is done once the manuscript is ready and the author feels the need to go through the elaborate editing process to perfect the draft. It is only in the draft edit that you gain the sense of the text as a whole and can review it properly.

The cost of editing will depend on the type of editing you select and how many layers of edit the book goes through.

What are the different types of editing a book and how is each type different from the other?

Once a writer understands the need for editing a book for publishing, he or she wants to know what are the different types of editing, especially for authors looking to self-publish. The various types of revision levels focus on specific individual needs, including stylistic and substantive content. It is most suitable for editing a novel.

1. Content and Development / Substantive edit

This is the most intensive form of editing your book. The text is evaluated as a whole, and coherence and logical consistency are checked. It entails:

  • A detailed revision of the content and
  • Reviewing the flow and organisation of chapters and the book in its entirety. Chapters could be re-arranged accordingly, along with considering the length and number of chapters.
  • This type of editing mainly focuses on the plot and sub-plots, characters and their voices and dialogues. It is essential to see if the readers connect with the characters and that their point of view is consistent. One must practise developing plots and writing dialogues.
  • It also ensures that first, second and third-person points of view (or their combination) are presented following the particular rules (for instance, a third-person point of view could either be omniscient or limited to one character) and that the readers can make sense of it. If, for instance, the book presents a combination of narratives, substantive editors make sure that the transition from one narrative voice to another is smooth and comprehensible.
  • They look at broader questions regarding your manuscript. They refine your idea, shape your narrative reader’s and fix inconsistencies.
  • The editor provides an editorial report and an annotated manuscript. An editorial report is a general critique of your work, along with suggestions on what will function better and what should stay in your work. Meanwhile, the annotated manuscript is a marked-up version of the draft with specific recommendations for each issue. It works as detailed feedback for the writer.
what is substantive edit?
What is Substantive editing?
What is developmental editing?
What is developmental editing?

2. Line Edit

Line Edit functions primarily to improve the syntax and paragraph structure. It checks words and phrases that might be repetitive, restructuring sentences that are not complete or do not make sense, and use words that clarify the intended meaning. They point out run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and clichés. They enhance and elevate the clarity of the text for better communication with the reader. Suitable for editing of a poetry book and editing a storybook

3. What is Copy Edit?

Copy editing deals with the mechanical part of the text. Copy Editors meticulously check grammar, punctuations, capitalisation, italicization, style, and jargon. They also focus on spelling nuances in the text. It helps create the most readable version of the text, improving clarity and correctness. It helps bridge any remaining gap between the author’s intent and the reader’s understanding.

It is also a formatting stage where the editor amends the document to ensure that it follows the style guide appropriate for the specific genre. Suitable for editing a fiction book.

What is Copy Edit?
What is Copy Editing?
How to copy edit?
What is Copy Editing?

4. What is Fact-Checking?

If the book is a non-fiction or even a fiction with a lot of real-world information, it becomes necessary to check the facts stated in the manuscript before giving it to printing. It is vital to maintain the credibility of the author. Even though content editors review the draft, there might still be informational inconsistencies or errors. Hence, fact-checkers are imperative so that they can comb through the manuscript for these inconsistencies. They take note of the factual references in your draft and confirm them via external sources. If any inaccuracies are found, the writer is alerted and necessary changes are made. Most dedicated writers are themselves experienced fact-checkers, but a trained external eye help catch what the author might miss. Suitable for editing an academic book, editing a management book, editing a technical book etc.

What is Fact-Checking?
What is Fact-Checking?

5. What is Proofreading?

It is the final stage in a book editing process. A proof-reader is the last editor who reviews the book after it is formatted and designed. They look for spelling errors, correct usage of punctuations and missing words or phrases. They also check for unwanted space and take a final review of the overall layout.  They primarily look for minor errors and correct them before publishing. Suitable for editing all types of books.

It’s a common practice to keep alpha and beta readers, who point out plot holes, comment on the characters and stories as a whole. Their opinion gives the writer an idea of the audience reception and helps in improving the draft. This in no way replaces the editorial requirement, but only provides necessary input regarding reception.

For a self-published author, an essential element you should bring to your project is the perspective. While collaborating with editors, it is imperative to make your goal and intention clear, in order to yield the best result. The editing process works in a hierarchy, moving from larger structural and content issues to more minute details and errors. This ensures the manuscript is thoroughly free of any errors. The editor’s main job is to make the writer aware of the errors or suggestions in their manuscript and correct them. They give a professional critique on their work, but it is entirely up to the author to reject any criticisms or be selective in accepting suggestions since it ultimately depends on the writer as to what they want to present to the reader.


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