As a writer, understanding the editing process can sometimes be a little confusing. Understanding the editing process is crucial as professional editing of a book will help make your book the best it can possibly be, receive better reviews and sell more copies.
What is developmental editing?
Developmental Editing aims to help authors think about the main questions that their book focuses on. Editors will read through the manuscript before it is finished and give detailed feedback on the structure of the book.
Developmental editors and non-fiction
In non-fiction, the developmental editors will assist the writer in organising their thoughts and make sure that the book covers the main areas of interest in a topic. They can also help to clarify the main argument of the book. For example if someone is writing a book about how individuals can help reduce the impact of climate change but there has been no mention of the benefits and drawbacks of renewable energy in the first draft, a developmental editor might suggest that the writer adds information about solar panels and wind farms. It is important that the developmental editing happens early on in the writing process to stop authors wasting time going down the wrong route.
Developmental editors and fiction
A developmental edit in fiction usually happens before the first draft is completed. The editor will read the rough manuscript and offer advice about plot, structure, pacing and characterisation. After a developmental edit, authors might decide to change the plot to make sure it is logical and easy for the audience to follow. For example if a developmental editor worked on the fable of The Three Little Pigs they might have questioned why the pigs don’t live together. This could have caused the author of this fable to add a subplot in to the start of the story where the pigs have a disagreement about something which leads them to go there separate ways. This is an example of how editing can make the story more compelling and remove any plot holes.
What you should get out of a developmental edit
Most editors will produce an editorial report which will normally be two or three sides of A4 writing and annotate the manuscript with questions for the author to consider as they finish the first draft. We would recommend discussing with the editor how the feedback should be presented before placing your order.
What is copy editing?
Copy editing, is one of the final stages of the process of writing a book. This happens before the text is typeset to look like a book and the copy editor focuses solely on the words that have been used and aims to bring it up to a professional standard.
What a copy editor looks out for
Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, inconsistencies and awkward phrasing can all prevent a book from appearing professional. A copy editor looks out for these mistakes and brings them to the authors attention. For example, copy editors will be on the look out for mistakes such as a character being described as wearing a blue coat in one paragraph and then taking off a red jacket in the next paragraph.
If the text is hard to follow – because there are a lot of different characters talking for instance. Then the copy editor will encourage the writer to revisit that section of the text before finishing the final draft. The editor will be aiming to ensure that the finished product is clear and has a consistent tone throughout.
In non-fiction, a copy editor will fact-check the content of the book.
How does a copy editor provide feedback?
Traditionally copy editors use a series of symbols to convey information to the authors such as using a triple underline to draw attention to a word that should be capitalised. However, most authors prefer the changes to be explained as comments on the Word Document.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is one of the final stages before a book is published. Proof is the name of the final draft of the book once the book has been typeset. If a book is going to have a print edition the publishers will normally print some proof copies of the book. It is the job of proofreaders to look through this final draft for any errors.
What does a proofreader look for?
The aim of a proofreader is to change as little as possible. Unlike a copy editor, they will not encourage authors to rephrase parts of the text to help make it easier to understand. Proofreaders focus on finding mistakes such as spelling and grammar errors and issues with the design of the books.
A typical proofread will include checking page numbers, making sure titles are consistent and reading through the text to make sure that there aren’t any errors.