You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
– Arthur Plotnik
Editing improves the standard of your work to that required by agents and publishers. Sending your writing off unedited tells them that you haven’t cared enough to ensure your manuscript is in the best possible condition. This could easily put them off, because if you don’t care about it — why should they? Even professional authors need editors and proofreaders.
What type of service do you need?
- Copy editing involves making suggestions and comments, asking questions while ensuring clarity and consistency (e.g. definitions, narrative structure and organisation, narrative flow, argument). Checking for filters words and pleonasms I also make editorial changes that will improve overall quality. A final proofread completes the process. In addition to correcting basic errors, I will make revisions on matters of grammar, punctuation and narrative flow. I will suggest changes to improve the clarity of your document, adding comments, questions or suggestions aimed to take you further. Improving the overall structure and effectiveness, as well as simple ‘correctness’, of any written work is the function of copy editing.
- Substantive editing, also known as structural editing/content editing/editorial, is an in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the written work, focusing on major narrative and writing issues. It will involve clarifying and/or reorganising a manuscript for content and structure. Changes may be suggested to (or drafted for) the author. This may include negotiating changes with the author.
- Developmental editing, also known as project editing and book doctoring, is a holistic approach. It primarily focuses on WIP (works in progress). If an author feels he or she needs help (development) with their storytelling and overall professional quality of the writing itself, or feels uncertain about their draft (e.g., critiques and beta reading reception), this is a service where I can help. This type of editing focuses on addressing issues with the project such as style and execution of prose, clarity, intended target audience and market, plot doctoring (which may involve reworking/rewriting certain plot threads), and characterisation (part or full reworking), pace of the narrative, rewriting or reordering chunks/chapters of the manuscript, or even writing an entire fresh draft.
- Proofreading is basically a comprehensive sweep for errors, including formatting problems, spelling, grammar and inconsistencies. If your writing is already polished and simply needs a final check for occasional hiccups, then you require a Proofreader. This is obviously the fastest service and is ideal if you have a strict deadline and/or need a second eye to check for mistakes. Only publishers and self-publishing authors need to focus heavily on proofreading to complete the editorial process. The types of errors that are addressed by proofreading are not the type of thing that would prevent an agent or publisher from acquiring your manuscript. If you know your manuscript is riddled with grammar and punctuation errors, you need copy-editing before submitting to an agent or publisher. I usually work with a second editor to proofread in order to avoid what I refer to as ‘blinding’. If an editor has worked extensively on your manuscript a fresh set of eyes is always preferred to complete the process with a final sweep for errors.