Understanding the Different Types of Editing Services: A Guide for Authors

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If you’re an independent author who wants to self-publish a book, chances are you’re thinking about outsourcing the editing to a professional service. That’s exactly what you should do because you’re simply too close to your manuscript to be objective and make the revisions necessary to realize its full potential. 

However, you might be confused about what each type of service offers. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. Different providers may use different names for the same service or have multiple services combined under one name, making it more baffling than it has to be for emerging authors. 

So, in this post, we’ll go through the different types of editing services and what each one is used for. To see all the editing services we provide, check out our services for authors or take our 20-second editorial needs quiz to figure out which one works best for you. 

Macro and micro editing

Let’s start with the basics. There are two levels of professional editing: macro and micro. Macro editing includes developmental (big-picture) editing and manuscript critique; it’s editing that looks at overall structure and development and works on fixing things like plot holes, character arcs, and themes. 

Micro editing focuses on details like paragraph and sentence editing and proofreading. Both are important and can dramatically improve your manuscript, so we recommend that authors look into both options.

Developmental editing and manuscript critique 

Developmental editing is for authors with finished first drafts who want feedback on how well their story is working overall. Big-picture editing always comes before line editing, which focuses on linguistic issues—since your content is likely to change significantly with a developmental edit, addressing linguistic issues at this stage would simply be a waste of time. 

Big-picture editors focus on plot, structure, flow, character development and motivation, pacing, and overall organization. They make suggestions about sections that should be moved, changed, or cut; characters that should have a more profound or consistent arc; dialogue that feels stiff or expository; and unclear information that can be presented in a better way. If there are plot holes or other jarring inconsistencies, a developmental editor will certainly point that out and offer suggestions to eliminate them. Check out our big-picture editing here

A manuscript critique is similar and focuses on the same elements of your story, but it also includes an editorial assessment that offers an unbiased look at your manuscript, outlining its strengths and weaknesses. It also includes a strategy for revisions to help you pinpoint what your manuscript needs the most work on, which is recommended if you’re unsure what its biggest issues are. 

While developmental editors go through your manuscript and add specific comments about different sections, giving you concrete advice on improving different areas, a manuscript critique provides a broader view, telling you how you can improve your story without walking you through every change you should make. Check out our manuscript critique services here

Line editing and proofreading

Paragraph and sentence editing is for authors in the final stages of revision who need help with spelling, grammar, word choice, and sentence structure and also want an editorial expert to take one last look at elements such as style and voice. This is a detail-oriented service that goes deeper than basic proofreading and will help you resolve grammar and style issues before publication. 

Line editors flag ambiguous wording and give you suggestions for eliminating it, and they help you polish any awkward structures that have made their way into your prose. They’ll also make sure that you maintain linguistic consistency, which is an important element of professionalism. Check out our paragraph and sentence editing services here

Proofreading should be the final editing stage in your writing process. Its purpose is to ensure that no typos, missing words, spelling, or grammar errors mar your final draft. Proofreading focuses on minor errors, without any additional editorial services, and specializes in manuscripts that are ready for publication, so send yours for proofreading only after you’ve gone through all the revisions you need. You might think that your line editor should catch all the typos, but since they dive deep into the linguistic structure of your writing, it can be easy for them to overlook minor issues such as typos. Besides, it’s all too easy to accidentally introduce new mistakes during the rounds of revision, so hiring a proofreader is crucial for any author. Check out our proofreading services here

Professional editing services are essential for authors who are self-publishing their books and aren’t backed by a large publisher with in-house editors. Whatever your needs are, you want an editor who works within your genre, understands your themes and style, and respects your voice and story. Remember: Editors aren’t here to rewrite your work but to get the best out of your story and out of you as an author, so take some time to decide which services you need depending on the stage of the writing process you’re currently at. To learn more, check out our full list of services for authors

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