The next question is: what kind of editor do I need?
Hiring an editor is a big step for a number of reasons. Firstly, for some writers, it will be the very first time they will have handed their manuscript over to an objective reader. In addition, you can find the feedback really difficult to handle. If you’re not careful you might never write again if you hire the wrong editor. Their comments can be creatively critical; I know it’s happened to me! I stopped writing for more than five years.
Ask yourself: do I really need an editor?
How do you know if you need editorial assistance?
Try out these questions.
- Do I feel my writing is the very best I can make it?
- Could I do with some feedback on characterisation, plotting, writing style?
- Am I looking for affirmation or constructive criticism?
- Do I realise that an editor cannot guarantee sales but can make a book more professional?
- Do I know the difference between a copy or a line editor and a developmental editor?
- How can I test whether an editor might work for me?
Editing will be a worthwhile investment
Some feel it is best to release a book and see what happens. Others think that finding beta readers will iron out typos and so on. Personally, I find typos and basic grammatical errors, or poor writing will put me off a title. That’s an opinion but life is too short to read poorly crafted writing. Therefore, the key tip is to work hard on your book so it’s the very best you can do. That way you might get away with giving it to a proof-reader who will charge less than a developmental editor. However, having used a developmental editor myself I am all in favour of investing in one as they give you a more rounded and detailed overview of your work.
What’s the difference between a proof-reader, line editor and developmental editor?
Hiring a Proof-reader
Let’s start at the beginning and basic punctuation. Proof-readers will check for missing words or mistakes in the general typography or paragraphing. However, you cannot expect any more for their fee. Basically, a proof-reader is a final stop before publication. They are a final check on quality before release. They are detailed in what they do and have very high levels of spelling, punctuation, and grammar and in fact, are very skilled. However, if you are looking for comments about your plot, structure, writing style, etc. they are not the most appropriate professionals for that.
However, a copy editor will proofread but also change the content. They make changes in the following ways
- They also look at grammar
- They look at readability
- They ensure writing fits in with a brand, genre, type or your own style
- The evaluate whether your writing hits a target audience or market
- They decide and advise on the choice of word and vocabulary, formatting, voice, etc.
You will find a copy editor has a focus on detail. They will spot the smallest error or typo. They can check facts, dates, statistics, and so on. They are in charge of your reputation in one sense. They are very important but will cost more than a proof-reader.
Hiring a Developmental Editor
These sit at the top of the tree. Personally, I could not progress without a highly professional developmental editor. I learn so much, always from their skills and perspectives. For example, the last developmental editor was not convinced by my abrupt ending. I thought it had worked but I have questioned that decision and reworked the ending. Honestly, there is no substitute for working with a professional.
You might find developmental editors describes as content or substantive editors. Regardless of their title, developmental editors will look at how your book sits in a genre, niche, age range, etc. They will offer pithy advice about your story and how the narrative develops (or doesn’t!) They will discuss the ideas you are working with and spot inconsistencies – may be in plot, character, or historical detail for example. You can expect them to look at everything you have done and examine its success or whether it requires further revision or development.
Therefore, a developmental editor is going to develop quite a relationship with you as a writer. I would see this as a long-term relationship hopefully. They will give you feedback that comes from experience and will be honest and clear. They should also offer support to help you deal with their critique. You need to consider whether you can cope with this? Are you looking for a critique that will help you grow and develop or are you looking for a pat on the back? Every writer, no matter how successful will rely on valuable readers and editors. See your book creation as a project pulled along by teamwork. Collaboration is a contemporary key skill and once you get used to it you will find working with a developmental editor a real joy.
Obviously, you can join a writing group where writers bring new work every week and read-aloud for people to comment. You can find beta readers who can help you and feedback if you give them a free copy of your manuscript. You don’t have to pay for any editing and there’s lots of DIY approaches but there’s no substitute for working with a professional.
If you would like to talk to a proof-reader, copy editor or developmental editor then book an appointment right here.