I’ve written about editing a number of times, including listing the different types of editing. Since the last time I laid this out was two years ago, I thought I’d republish a portion of a prior post that lists different kinds, should any of you be in the market for hiring an editor.
- Developmental Editing – sometimes lumped in with substantive editing – according to the Freelance Editorial Association, this is the process of helping a writer to develop a novel from concept through any one of the initial drafts. I love this part of story telling most of all. I bounce book ideas off my best friends, and find brainstorming helpful, so the thought of paying someone to help me come up with an idea seems alien to me. However, if you’re better at execution than ideas, this can help. It’s particularly useful in developing non-fiction material; a good developmental editor can help you go from idea to execution, especially if you don’t write for a living.
- Substantive Editing – this is sometimes referred to as ghostwriting editing. This editor helps with clarity, organization, writing/rewriting portions of the text for readability, etc. Given the time and skill involved, paying $0.75 per word isn’t atypical. Much “works-for-hire” editing, tech editing, etc. falls into this category. Having done about 10 years of this, I can assure you that the writer does give up a modicum of control here. Frankly, there is a great deal of trust that the editor can make the book better. For instance, were I Stieg Larsson’s SE, I would have pushed him to take out around 100 pages’ worth of character backgrounds from his Millennium trilogy (per book). As you can imagine, the process can be contentious, so when you hire one, ensure A) you can work together effectively, and B) you both understand and agree on the scope of the editing involved.
- Copy Editing / Line Editing – this is just as important and not as controversial. Copy editing covers grammar, spelling, syntax, word usage, inconsistencies, repetition, etc.–the fundamentals of good structural writing. Just as important, this covers style issues with writing. Not surprisingly, this is where many writers stumble and where it is VERY easy to lose a reader. Trust me, being good at grammar helps, but that doesn’t mean copy editing is unneeded. I find at most 80% of my own mistakes. I even found 3 in this paragraph. Rates vary, often $0.05 – $0.25 per word, depending on what you want done. Do talk with your editor beforehand so that you understand (and can live with) each others’ style choices. (As a good friend once told me, spelling “a lot” allot once is an error; doing it 100 times is a choice.)
- Proofreading – Often confused with copy editing, this is basically light error correction, typos, checking the “proof” to be published for errors. Anyone should do this, if possible, before publishing. Prices vary, but $0.05 per word isn’t unreasonable. Proofreading is NOT a substitute for copy editing.