Updated: Jan 13, 2022
A lot of new authors don’t realize there are a few distinct types of editors. They are also unaware of what each of them do. In this article, I will simply the role each type of editor plays in the writing process. I would like to introduce you to four types of editors.
1. Developmental editors do the heavy work. This is the editor you want from the very beginning because they make sure the manuscript make sense. The theme, message and audience will always be in the forefront throughout the writing process. Developmental editors guide or coach authors through the outline, and entire writing process and will check for proper voice, paragraph arrangement, structure and flow. If the writing is unclear, or there are gaps in the story, clarifying questions will be asked and the storyline and characters developed, if required. They may even remove paragraphs or even chapters if they are too disjointed or random.
2. Line editors do a line-by-line editing of a completed body of work. Each and every word in every line is scrutinized for mechanics, structure, word choice, word overuse, clarity and flow. This is done to ensure your writing is clear, eloquent, and polished. Some developmental editors are also line editors and will do much of the line editing during the development of the manuscript. It is important to keep in mind that these are two separate services.
3. Copy editors are much like line editors, but have a broader scope. Copy editors focus on grammar, misspellings, punctuation, run-on sentences, proper voice, clichés, and awkward phrasing. This is not necessarily a line-by-line approach, overall writing quality. Some copy editors are also line editors, but they are separate services.
4. Proof editors or Proofreaders are the final step of the writing process before a book is published. This is also where the overall readability, consistency, flow, and quality are checked. All remaining spelling, grammar, proper noun usage, sentence structure, punctuation, and formatting errors should be identified and fixed at this stage.
Each type of editor is separate and each step in the editing process is separate. This is important when budgeting for editors. When deciding which editor to take on your project, ensure their expertise is in the area where you need it most. If you are a great writer and have no problem developing a story, you may only need a line editor and proofreader. If you are terrible when it comes to grammar, your money may best be spent on a copy editor and proofreader.
My advice to authors will always be, ensure properly budget for a good editor. All editors are not created equal. Editors have different level of skill and experience and you should ask specific questions when choosing the best editor for your project. Don’t forget to check out my article, 5 questions every author should ask potential editors, to make sure you are getting the most for your money.