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  • Writer's pictureKara S. Weaver

A short guide to the different editing stages

Photo by @kellysikkema on unsplash

Getting your book edited can be daunting by itself, but how do you know which kind of edits you need? A good editor will offer you a sample edit and tell you what it needs based on what you have sent, but if that is not the way you want to go, here are the most common types of editing and what you can expect from them.

The first item on the list of edits is developmental editing. If you doubt your world building, character development, plot, and basically everything else that makes up your story, this is the kind of editing you want to go for. In essence, it looks at your manuscript from a developing point of view. It will not look at grammar, sentence structure, punctuation or anything.

The next item on the list is mechanical editing, also know as copyediting. In this stage, your editor will look at proper capitalisation, spelling, hyphenation, abbreviations, punctuation, ellipses, parentheses, quotation marks, grammar, syntax and usage. This is the stage in which your manuscript gets a good scrubbing and comes out the other end looking clean and polished.

The third item on the list is substantive editing, more commonly known as line editing. This part of the editing stage deals with the organisation and presentation of your manuscript. It may involve rewriting to improve style, to eliminate ambiguity, or to reorganise and tighten specific sections. Please note that this kind of editing should not happen without your consent. After all, it's your work and you should agree upon this happening. Obviously, if this is what you book and pay for, this is what you will get.

The last item on the list is proofreading. When you send off your manuscript for this, it will go through the last pass before publishing. This often happens after your manuscipt has been formatted for publication, but in the self-publishing industry, you may find that this happens in the regular document as well. It's up to your proofreader as to what they prefer.

At Spirit Editorial, I offer copy/line-editing in the same package because I believe that every manuscript deserves to be its best without it costing you an arm, a leg, and both your kidneys. Quality doesn't have to be expensive.

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