Saturday, April 5, 2014

E = Editing Comes in Many Forms


Someone who's “looking for an editor” is most likely referring to the need for a copy editor. There are, however, a few types of editors to choose from, and it’s best to know what you’re looking for if you want to get your publishing budget set up accurately.

Developmental editors work with you from the very beginning. If you have a concept or a great story idea but aren’t sure how to execute it, a developmental editor can help you organize your thoughts, give suggestions to aid your research, and help you get a handle on the big picture.

Substantive editors enter the picture when you have a full text. Some beta readers are skilled enough that their summary resembles the evaluation of a substantive/content editor. They’ll spot when your writing isn’t clear, your characters are weak, when your plot has holes, and when timelines don’t add up properly.

Copy editors come into play when the text is nearly final—or as final as an author can get it on his own. This type carefully reads each sentence, correcting typos, spelling, punctuation, word usage, and grammar. They’ll alert you to stilted dialogue and inconsistent character details.

Proofreaders take the final look at your project. They ensure all the copy editor’s changes were implemented, and fix any typos that may have been missed during the initial copy edit.

Each type of editing comes with its own price structure, so it’s best to know what you need before rushing right out there. Many authors think they only need a proofreader, but actually need a substantive editor for a manuscript that’s not yet ready for even the copy editor. Know your strengths, but also recognize your weaknesses and set your budget accordingly.


42 comments:

  1. Oh, Lynda - I just bookmarked your blog to remind me from time to time to "find" tags, adverbs, and those banal phrases. There might be crying fits, fist-shaking, and delete-rashes - but, in the end, I shall come back to thank you.
    Great points. Keep them coming before I finish the next novel.

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    1. Thanks, Inge! I'll try my best to give advice people can use. My thought is that people can have all the fits they want (I love the term "delete-rash," by the way) as long as they ultimately listen to the advice.

      So glad you visited!

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  2. I once won a substantive edit from Deborah Halverson and boy did she teach me a thing or three. Proofreaders are under-appreciated. I swear 20 people read my ms, I had a copy-editor, I proofed the galley, and my book still has some typos in there. Gah!!

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    1. I'm amazed at how much I gloss over in my own writing, and I only do blog posts! We see what we meant to write, whether that's what's on the page or not. Gah, indeed. I feel your pain.

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  3. Each one of these are important...except maybe copy editors and proofreaders...those are eh...you know only *crucial*. :P No seriously, they're all needed to make the story as a whole stronger and to help the craft look smarter.
    I think this post will be bookmarked a lot, since many people are still confused as to each type of editing, and you so nicely summarized it for everyone. A one-stop info post, love it ;)

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    1. All I need to go is hand out a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate to each visitor and they'd never go anywhere else!

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  4. Very well explained. I can't even make a smart@$$ comment about it!

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    1. HA! I guess I should brace myself for Monday's buildup, then, if you're holding back today.

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    2. That'll depend on your Monday post. Ha.

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  5. Substantive editors are incredibly helpful. They may be one of the most important editors on the list!

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    1. I agree! (Even as a copy editor, I can agree.) If it's not solid with plot and characters in the earlier stages, it's not worth correcting line by line.

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  6. I never knew the breakdown before - excellent!!

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    1. I love separating things into categories...it helps me to think better. :)

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  7. It is nice to see it put together like this. I am glad I have my CP my Betas and my editor. They all make for a great finished product.

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    1. It's like a production line and the best teamwork ever!

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  8. Some editors don't seem to do their job. I recently read a book and when finished though it needed editing for overlong content and unnecessary scenes. But what do I know, I am a reader.

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    1. Jo, I would say as a reader, you know what's written well and what's not. The typical reader should never have editing errors catch his or her eye. So many people think that editing simply means all the typos are caught and fixed, but overlong content, unnecessary scenes, inconsistencies, plot holes and all the rest speak of poor editing or none at all.

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  9. Congratulations on a worthwhile #challenge theme. As a writer I appreciate the first A-E posts I've just read. Visiting on the 5th day of the AtoZ and appreciate the clarity and focus of the posts. If you have time or interest, I'm writing about gardening and related topics this month. Come and visit if you can.

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    1. Stepheny, thank you for visiting and commenting! I like the Cicero quote on your blog: "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Those words ring true for me. I'll be sure to stop back during the month, and hope you visit here again.

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  10. Wow, theres so many different stages before a draft goes into production. One of star treks proof readers used to stand on writers desks just to get them to hand over the typed pages.

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    1. That is priceless trivia! I love it. I usually resort to shameless begging.

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  11. Very nicely delineated, Lynda. Traditionally pubbed folk get that done; it's part of the process. The Indies need to know this. Hurray! Now they do.

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    1. I'm amazed at how many people just assume a book is written and then published. Boom. No drafts, no revision. Just creativity and big bucks flowing in. Wouldn't that be great?

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  12. Really great post on the different type of editors. A year ago, I didn't realize there were so many different types. It's so important to get an editor to look over my work, even though I do that type of work. It's hard to see your own mistakes.

    ~ Kim

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    1. To be honest, I didn't realize it, either, until I started copy editing. I do a lot of the other stuff, but recognize my strength is more in the details of copy edits. I'm okay with the content/substantive but not nearly as good at it.

      A friend and I read each other's blog posts prior to scheduling them. It's always good to have each others' backs.

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  13. Thank you for this post. I am working on my first draft and just said to a friend, I will get an editor once my first draft and my own first edit is done. I had no idea that there were different editors. Andy guidance on costs/budgets? (I am very glad I am following you now, I think I will learn a lot!)

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    1. It is best if you do as much editing on your own, prior to handing it over, because many editors (like me) charge per word, but more or less per word depending on how heavy the editing is. My post for "G" is about getting free evaluations from at least a handful of editors to see who fits your style and budget the best. Many people go for the cheapest price without even checking the person out, and the so-called editor might not even be very good. And yet, you don't have to break the bank, either.

      I have two posts from February called "Is This Editor a Good One?" (parts one and two) that might give you ideas on what to look for when you're ready. ...because you know you have so much free reading time during April, right? Ha.

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  14. Since I've decided against attempting to be a professional author, I've been interested in attempting to become an editor, but am stymied as to where to start.
    Thanks for visiting Crazy Town in Looney Land

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    1. Make sure you start with a firm grasp of the English language and a bigger-than-life stack of resource books. ;) Depending on the type of editor you'd like to be, there are a lot of options. Contact me privately and I'll happily provide you with a list of my favorite book helps.

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  15. I love editing - I hate editing. Sigh...a necessary evil for sure. Great post!

    D.B. McNicol
    A to Z: Romance & Mystery...writing my life

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    1. I think you're in good company. Only editors truly love editing. Everyone else tolerates it because they have no choice.

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  16. Honestly, I never knew there were this many different sort of editors. Thanks for teaching me something, today :)

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    1. Mark, I found it helpful to me to sort it out and recognize what was and was not expected of me when someone needed an "edit." My tendency is to want to fix whatever is wrong, but some people only want typos and punctuation to have the proper fixes.

      I can also teach you how to make a killer pizza dough. Just sayin'.

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  17. Thanks for this educational post. I had no idea about the different types of editors.
    So where does the creative editor slot into this list?

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    1. As far as I can tell, a creative editor deals more with the audio/video end of things such as video editing or magazine art editing—sort of the content/substantive editor of the non-written media. I could be wrong, but that's the best information I have on that type. Glad you enjoyed the part I *did* know, though! :)

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  18. I didn't know there were so many types. I would have confused copy editor with substantive. Thanks for the editing revelation.
    Nana Prah

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    1. Anytime, Nana! Many people think editing covers pretty much all of it, but it's always good to know each side has a clear idea of what is expected.

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  19. I always tell writers that if I'm their editor, then they get the whole schlemiel, including cheerleader.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I'm best at the copy editing end of things, but am getting more skilled at the substantive editing as I go along.

      The cheerleading part? Well, I'm all over that. I carry my pom poms everywhere.

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  20. Too complicated. Just get someone to shake their head and go 'tsk tsk'. Then ignore them and go ahead anyway.

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    1. Are you spying on me? That's my secret method of editing.

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