Friday, December 22, 2017

Editing Simplified: What's the difference?



If you're an indie author, you may not know what kind of editor you need, or why each kind of editor charges differently for different services. I'm hoping to demystify the process. This list is for work with fiction; the editing of non-fiction will differ.

Here are the different kinds of editing, and what to expect ~ simplified.

Developmental Editing
(also called Substantive Editing)
What a developmental editor does:
  • Checks for plot inconsistency and holes.
  • Points out ways that you can improve your manuscript.
  • Evaluates the manuscript and helps you determine how much rewriting needs to be done before it can be published.
  • Teaches you methods to overcome inconsistencies in your own writing to get better.
When it should be done:
  • You can have a DE help you with each chapter you write as you go.
  • You can have the DE check your first/second draft so that you can make large changes before a rewrite.
  • You can have the DE go over a final copy with you before line edits.

Typical Price:
  • This is usually the most expensive of the edits: Anywhere between $0.01-0.05 /word average
Time Frame:
  • This edit usually takes the longest. Some editors want as much as two months to finish.



Content Editing
What a content editor does:
  • Checks the content for factual errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies. 
  • Points out discrepancies in the plot, character, or dialogue. 
  • Evaluates whether the theme has been developed properly, and whether the sub-plots are complete and have been well integrated into the story line. 

When it should be done:
  • Content editing can be combined with either the developmental edit or the copy edit. (I usually combine it with either). Or it can be done on its own.
Typical Price:
  • On its own, content editing is usually around the same price as developmental editing.
Time Frame:
  • Usually doesn't take quite as long as developmental editing, but most editors still prefer a month.


Line Editing
What a line editor does:
  • Helps with the craft of writing.
  • Suggests words or phrases to clarify or enhance your meaning.
  • Notes changes to improve pacing and narrative.
  • Clears up confusing passages or unclear scenes due to bad transitions.
  • Points out passages of bland language which don't read well.
  • Checks for extraneous or overused words or sentences, run-ons, and redundancies.
  • Suggests ways to tighten dialogue and narrative.
When it should be done:
  • Line editing should be done after developmental and content editing, but before copy editing or proofreading.
Typical Price:
  • Anywhere from $.005/word to $.02/word.
Time Frame:
  • Depends on length of document and how fast the editor is, but anywhere from 3 weeks to two months.

Copy Editing

What a copy editor does:
  • Ensures correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax
  • Checks for consistency in spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, fonts, and numerals.
  • Points out ambiguous language and internal consistency.
When it should be done:
  • Copy editing should be done after developmental and line editing, but before proofreading.
Typical Price:
  • Anywhere from $.005/word to $.02/word.
Time Frame:
  • Depends on length of document and how fast the editor is, but anywhere from 2 weeks to two months.

Proofreading
What a proofreader does:
  • Only checks for mistakes in punctuation, grammar, and syntax.
When it should be done:
  • After all editing is complete, and the copy is ready to publish otherwise. It's one last check.
Typical Price:
  • Anywhere from $.001/word to $.01/word.
Time Frame:
  • Depends on length of document and how fast the editor is, but anywhere from a few days to 1 month.

Editorial Critiques
What an editorial critiquer does:
  • Checks your plot for holes or things that don't make sense
  • Lets you know if your characters are realistic and relatable.
  • Flags places where your pacing isn't working.
  • Ensure that the dialogue is realistic and not forced.
  • Tells the author where the story can improve for better reading experience.
When it should be done:
  • After developmental editing, then anywhere else in the editing timeline before proofreading.
Typical Price:
  • Anywhere from $.001/word to $.009/word.
Time Frame:
  • Depends on length of document and how fast the editor is, but anywhere from 1 week to 1 month.
When choosing an editor, be sure that you know what kind of work you need done. Remember that ideally, you want an editor you can trust and agree with. Some are more stringent than others; some are more details oriented. If you're not sure an editor is going to work well with you, ask for a sample of their work!

11 comments

  1. Great post. On the low end this could cost about 11¢ a word. Where can we learn to be an editor?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I added up the low end as about 3.5 cents per word but my math could be off. It’s possible to cut out Developmental editing and replace with a good editorial critique or beta read after the author hones the craft. Many editors combine content and line editing without charging extra. And it’s possible to trade services with another author such as beta reading or proofing. Experience and education make for a good editor! :)

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  2. Thank you for dumbing this down for people like me. You have no idea, how I would sit there and stare at the screen trying to figure out the difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get so many people asking the difference and couldn't find a good explanation from googling so I broke it down! Glad it's helping others :)

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