Am I the right editor for you?

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*You can email me to ask questions about anything you read on my site. I love to talk editing!

Let's talk editing!

My specialty is content editing, line editing, copy edits, and proofreading.

On this page I talk about:
-The editing industry standard
-Editing with me
-Types of editing/Do I really need a professional for that step?
-Do I need a beta reader?

Editing as a profession.
Traditional publishing houses use a variety of editors. Each editor performs a different function. Most editors can do more than one function. You need to determine your weakness as far as self-editing and find experienced people to help you with the rest.

Editing, like writing, is a subjective job. An editor you think is great might be considered an idiot by another writer.

There is an industry standard for editing accuracy. Here is an excellent article about what to realistically expect from an editor and how to reduce "missed" edits.

**Let's Talk Editing With Me**
Depending on where you find your information, the number of editing steps can vary. I recently came across something new, mechanical editing. 

It can be confusing!

For me, editing can fall into four basic types.

Content editing - Line editing - Copy editing - Proofreading 

And I prefer them done in that order. You can use different editors for each step. Or use a beta reader for one or more. But it would be best if you used a professional editor for the line and copy editing. And I happen to know one! 
(Me, I'm the one.)

If you want to use a friend for proofreading, that most likely will suffice if you already had a professional go through it. Non-professionals can't fix what they don't know. Editors have spent a lot of time learning their craft. 
Do you know when to use farther or further?

The confusion comes from the fact that those editing steps blend into each other. Line editing and copy editing are linked. If I'm line editing and showing you how to restructure a sentence to make it more impactful, and there is a grammar/spelling mistake in it, I'm going to fix that while I'm there. 

You should do a separate line and copy edit because the editor uses a different type of reading for each (where they will focus). 

If I am line editing and focusing on sentence structures to decide if they fit the character/plot/interaction, I can't catch all the little copy edit issues. If a copy edit issue jumps out at me, I'll fix it while I'm there because it would be silly not to. It's one less error I'll have to fix during the copy edit step. But I will miss many of them. That's what the copy edit stage is for, focusing on the spelling/grammar/dropped words/wrong words.

Also, after lines edits are sent back, and you make changes, you could (and most likely will) introduce new mistakes that will be caught during the copy edit.

You should use the same editor for your line and copy edits

Writers don't often realize that after correcting or rewriting a sentence, they might have changed the flow, tone, or meaning of that sentence compared to the rest of the paragraph or scene. That is why a copy edit with the same editor is so important after the line edit. They will know the impact of your changes and if they will fit the story overall.

I do content editing during the first round of any type of edit. I can't help myself. If there is a plot hole, issue with characterization, or story structure, I have to point it out. I would be failing you as an editor if I didn't. But again, if I'm not focusing on just content editing, there is a chance something will get missed.

I pride myself on my content editing abilities even when I'm focusing on line or copy editing. It comes naturally to me. Line/copy editing skills can be learned, but catching content issues requires some talent.

Types of Editing Defined by Me. And should you pay someone to do it?

Content/Substantive Editing
This considers a work’s organization and presentation. It involves tightening and clarifying at a chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence level. For me, it also includes consistency in character and plot development. Looking for plot holes. 

Should I pay an editor to content edit?
If you are a seasoned writer, you probably already know how to organize your story well, and you can use a beta reader for this step or someone familiar with reader expectations in your genre. An editor with experience in your genre will probably give you more detailed feedback. Like I mentioned above, I automatically content edit during a first edit.

If this is your first book, you can learn from an experienced content editor. You don't want to put out a story a reader can't follow.

Line Editing
Line editing is the intense look at each sentence’s meaning. The editor looks at your book line by line and analyzes each sentence. The editor considers word choice and the power and meaning of a sentence. The editor considers syntax and whether a sentence needs to be trimmed or tightened. Line editing helps make your prose tight and, therefore, more impactful. Pointing out places where inactive voice can be changed to active voice.

He was hit by the ball. (inactive)
The ball hit him. (active)

The line editor looks for consistency in the actual words and structure of the book. Sometimes this job gets folded into content editing. Line editing requires the editor to look at the tiniest thing and make queries like: She put on her hat on page 24. She put on her hat again on page 31. I didn't see her take the hat off.

This is the step when I also consider how the words look on the page. You can use word placement and punctuation to help set tone/mood.

I walked away and told myself not to look back at him. Don't look back. Don't do it. Don't... Damn.


I walked away. Don't look back.

Don't do it.

Don't... Damn.

Should I pay an editor to line edit?
Yes. Preferably the same one who will do your copy edits. This step is where your voice and story are honed and strengthened. But beware of editors who want to change your voice. Authors who also edit on the side can change your voice to something more like theirs. Your editor should polish your story, not rewrite it. 
This is not the step to cut corners on.

Copy Editing
The editor reviews your work, fixing any mechanical errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and other nit-picky but oh-so-important details. Every writer needs a copy editor. Writers become word blind and can't see what they've left out because their mind fills in the information. 

The copy editor edits the finished (already line-edited) copy.

Should I pay a professional to copy edit?
Yes. You can do a lot of self-editing and you should. The cleaner your manuscript the better job your editor can do. But after going through your manuscript twenty times or more, you become word blind. You need fresh eyes and someone who understands the difference between fiction copy editing and non-fiction. When it comes to fiction, the rules can be bent and are fluid, as long as you are consistent. Dialog is a place where strict grammar rules are thrown out. The character dictates how you edit dialog.

This is the last look before you hit publish. You will not make any more additions or deletions to your story: no more rewording things or tweaking. 

Every time you start typing, you could introduce an error.

If you feel the need to rewrite something, send that section back to the proofreader before publishing.

Should I pay a professional to proofread?
This is a step where you can save money. Use a beta reader or someone you trust. This person is not supposed to suggest changes in your story. They look for dropped words, missing punctuation, homonyms, and typos. 

If you want an editor to do it, I would pick someone different than the editor who did your copy/line edits. We can become word blind too, and after going over your book twice already, new eyes would be best.

What is the difference between a beta read and an edit?
All serious authors should use a beta. If you aren't, you are missing out on a valuable resource. Most self-pub writers use family and close friends. While this works in some cases, they are going to be nothing more than cheerleaders; telling you how great it is and to follow your dream. 

That is fine and dandy, but the rest of the world isn't going to be looking at your book with rose-colored glasses. They will most likely use a magnifying glass to pick your book apart word by word. 

It is my personal opinion that you find a variety of betas. I will also add that it might be best if your beta isn't a writer. Otherwise, they might try and tell you how they would have written it instead of what they thought of the story.

Who should beta for you?
~One who knows your writing (especially for sequels); like a fan.
~One who has no emotional ties to you, and therefore objective, but familiar with the genre.
~One who doesn't read the genre and also isn't emotionally tied to you

An inexperienced beta will be able to give you some helpful feedback. But you will have to tell them what you want to know. Write a few questions down for them to answer at the end. Otherwise, you might get "It was good."

Good for what? Lining a birdcage or to publish? 

Tell them you want a short written or oral book report. Did they like/dislike the characters? Did they understand the plot? Was there anything confusing? Was it too long, too short? Boring or exciting?

If someone says "I loved it" but can't tell you why, they are probably trying to protect your feelings. You don't need that if you want to become a published writer. Writing is a craft you must practice, and no one can create a masterpiece in one draft...or even two. You need to hear what is wrong and what is right before you show the world your baby because if you don't, the readers and reviewers out there will do it for you, and they only care whether or not they got their money's worth. If they didn't...they will let you know along with everyone else that will listen.

A good beta will break down their comments/questions chapter by chapter, and a great one will do it line by line. 

Betas run on a spectrum from poor to great, based on how much valuable feedback they can give you. A great beta might take their skills to the next level as a paid editor. There are some paid betas, but they often called themselves Alphas and are closer to editors of one type or another.

Some of the differences between an editor and a great beta are understanding of the industry, experience, and knowledge of the tools of the trade.

Here is a post I wrote about how to be a good beta: 
It’s a Beta Life for Me! 

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