Stock photo from freeimages.com
Editing is an integral part of the book publishing process—even before your manuscript hits a publishing house, it should go through several edits. You should only be submitting your best work when you query an agent or publisher, and that’s why hiring an editor is so important. As we talked about in Part One of this blog series, there are many levels of editing. But before you hire an editor, you need to understand the different types of editing—and you need make sure you know which type of editor to hire.
After you’ve self-edited your manuscript, put it through the beta-reader ringer, and revised it as necessary, you should get a developmental edit, as we discussed in Part One of this series. A developmental editor will help you with the big-picture issues, such as story structure, pacing, chapter order and breaks, logic, and more. After the edit - and after you’ve made revisions - your next step is to hire a line editor.
Line editing, which is sometimes referred to as substantive editing (and is often confused with copyediting, which deals with grammar and usage, among other things), deals with the prose of a manuscript and involves tightening and clarifying a story or message on the sentence level, as well as the paragraph, scene, and chapter levels. This type of editing focuses on how you use the language to tell your story.
A line editor will evaluate and consider:
word choice (clarity, meaning, power)
the meanings of sentences
word economy (trimming and tightening sentences)
the impact of metaphors and similes
repetitive sentences and words (removing/replacing them)
For manuscripts that are well-developed and well-executed, an editor who is skilled in both developmental and line editing can address both big-picture, story-related issues on a page-by-page level and edit the prose on a line level. This is when the edit is known as a substantive edit.
So right now you might be asking yourself why, since you consider yourself a writer, after all, you’d want an editor changing your words. A word to the wise: a good editor will make suggestions on how to polish those words, bring out the message more brightly, and make your words shine. A good editor will also keep your style and voice intact while also showing you where your words can be tightened, trimmed, and made clearer, so that what’s noticeable in your book is your story. And that’s why you’d hire a line editor. So once you’ve written your manuscript , developed the story, and solidified it, give it the best words you can by hiring a line editor to make it sparkle!
Lindsay Flanagan is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in developmental and substantive editing. She runs her own writing, editing, and photography business, Elle&A, and also edits for the award-winning Eschler Editing firm and for Immortal Works Publishing.
*The opinions expressed in this blog are of value and importance, yet do not serve to represent any and/or all opinions of TLM Language Services Co., nor necessarily the employees/affiliates of TLM Language Services Co.