What Does a Book Editor Do?

Editing is an important step in self-publishing, don’t scrimp

Hiring an editor is a step that most writers balk at. We like to believe that our beta readers, our writing group, or our friends who are English teachers are going to catch any errors, especially with multiple readings.

In fact, just the opposite is true. No matter how diligent your core readers are, it’s likely that they will pass over mistakes especially if they’ve been through the book more than once.

So trust me on this one: If you want to publish a professional book, then you should consider hiring a professional editor to review the text.

This brings up a lot of questions: How do I hire an editor? How much does it cost to hire a book editor? What do book editors do?

To help answer the question, “What do book editors do?” here’s a quick list of the different types of editing. Understanding the difference will help you understand what kind of editing your manuscript needs, and help you hire an editor that’s a good fit for you.

Copyediting

Copyeditors pay attention to the minutia. They correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and sometimes word usage.

In addition, most copyeditors will query the author about redundancies, apparent errors, or inconsistencies. Some will fact check text or at least question dates, titles, and names that seem off-kilter.

A competent editor is careful to preserve the meaning and voice of the original text.

Line editing

Line editing is a more substantial examination of the manuscript in order to identify and solve problems of overall clarity or accuracy.

Line editors may provide the following services:

  • Reorganization of the text
  • Verbiage changes
  • Writing or rewriting segments
  • Concerns such as inconsistent character attributes

A good line editor may even suggest solutions, or assist an author in the process of rewriting if necessary.

Developmental, or content editing

Developmental, or what’s sometimes called content editing, is big-picture editing of a draft or nearly complete manuscript.

Most self-publishing authors will not work with a developmental editor but will have friends, family, or writing group members function in a similar role.

Generally, a developmental editor works with the author on all aspects of the manuscript, analyzing overall structure, the clarity, voice, character development, plot, and use of tenses.

This now brings us to the proofreading step of the editing process.

Proofreading

Proofreading is usually the last step before going to press and is done in addition to editing.

Proofreaders read the “proof” of a book, checking for typos or any other errors in the text.

 

Once you understand the different kinds of editing and proofreading, you’ll be better equipped to discuss what you need when you hire an editor. We’ll talk in the next article about the process of hiring an editor, because you’ll need an editor whose work is in alignment with your expectations.