Editing takes many forms – from idea development at the outline stage and developmental editing to line editing and copy editing. Some authors need all of these services while others need only one or two. And to save time and money, it is important to complete them in the correct order. See the column to the right for the order and explanation of each service.
Read everything out loud as the final edit
Books: Write the back cover first
Develop a Style Guide for consistency
Technical: Software, hardware
Pets, specifically dogs and fish
80K+ technical books
160K+ non-fiction manuscripts
Links to edited writings
Most authors never hire an editor for this stage because they know what they want to write. Actually, most writers skip this stage entirely, thinking is unimportant. The goal is to simply get words down on “paper” and move on – editing will come later. I cannot stress enough, however, how important this first step is for every project.
Does the book flow logically, in a way that engages the reader? Does the flow continue at an appropriate pace or does the reader become bored in parts, skipping entire sections? Do the timelines match, are there discrepancies in the characters? In essence, does the book make logical sense?
Unfortunately, most people expect an editor to not only find typos but also flaws in the logic of the book. While some editors claim to do this, what is best is to have an editor, assuming they have the skills, to make two passes – one for developmental and another for line and copy editing.
This simply refers to using the best choice of words. Is the text as concise as it can be, yet giving enough details to set the mood for the reader? Too little context leaves the reader needing more and makes the text seem choppy. Too much detail, while it can have its place, alienates the reader, potentially causing them to stop reading. I also include some formatting in this type of editing. Does the reader have time to absorb the information presented? For example, in a blog post, is there a chart or picture that gives the user a break, a pause to reflect. Or, is it an intimidating wall of text. One option, headers for sections, can mitigate this problem. In a book, are the chapters an appropriate length? Or, does the reader feel that they will never finish the chapter? Logical breaks are important.
I think of copy editing as looking for typos and grammatical errors. And, unfortunately, this is what most authors just want when they ask for an ”editor.“ Of course, every written piece does need to be free of these errors, but it takes more than simply error-free prose to make good writing.
Do the numbers you include really match the data? Did you transpose a number? Are the correct links included, along with the correct information on what term to search or which button to click? Did you convert Fahrenheit to Celsius correctly, mpg to kph, square feet to square meters? What may seem like a typo to you is telling to your readers. I have the background with HTML to ensure links and other technical issues get resolved.