Over the past six months I’ve had quite a few clients approach me with questions about the different types of editing and after a variety of different conversations, I realised that this was something that wasn’t common knowledge.
So today, I want to help put those queries to rest and give a quick and useful guide to the four types of editing:
So this is a term that we’re all familiar with and one that we are likely to have a good understanding of. If we break it down for simplicity reasons, proofreading is word-level editing and looks at simple things like word repetition, typos, spelling, punctuation and that sort of thing. Generally speaking this should be the final stage of the writing process. This should be the final stage of editing that you put your book through as it really is only the finicky things that you’re looking for.
Perhaps one of the harder types of editing, this should take priority before you get to the proofreading stage. Copyediting is a term that is generally confused by a lot of people and is something authors will struggle with on their own work due to the nature of being too close to the story.
Copyediting is the sentence-level editing and takes a look at the grammar and consistency of a story. It keeps tracks of those little details that can sometimes get lost in a novel, like when a Diane becomes a Diana or your main character starts off with blue eyes and by the end of the novel they’ve magically transformed to the colour green. It’s easily done when working on such a large project.
This kind of editing is a step up from Copyediting as it’s a paragraph-level editing where sentences are checked for clarity, flow and how they preserve a writer’s voice. Generally speaking, this kind of editing is only required when you find yourself in a situation where your sentence lengths are pretty similar, if you’re prone to overusing adjectives or if the terminology and vocabulary used doesn’t fit its purpose – i.e. too technical for children, not technical enough for adults.
Last but not least is the big picture-level editing. This is something I’m asked to help with quite a lot and always provide a brief analysis with all my editing projects. At this level, you’re looking at how the book works together as whole, how the story fits together, how it progresses etc. Unfortunately, this is a pretty common issue for writers. Getting too close to a book, spending goodness knows how many hours on it and doing so much editing that you just don’t know which way is up can leave you immune to the bigger picture.
Of course, every editor will have a slightly different take on each level of editing and really a lot of editing is personal preference too but if you can find the right editor for the right price, you’ve bagged yourself a life saver…
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