The dreaded first draft is done! The story is written, and you can finally take a breather. But once that breather is over, it’s time to jump into editing.
There are so many different types of editing, and everyone has different opinions about which stages are the most important.
Let’s talk about the different types of editing, where they fall in the publishing timelines, and some tricks to help navigate them.
The first type of editing is self-editing. Personally, I think this is the most overlooked, but one of the most important stages of editing. You know your story better than anyone else, and your opinion matters the most.
Self-editing should happen directly after the first draft. This is before you pass it off to any one else, before your sacred story gets another set of eyes on it.
In this stage, it’s important you read through your manuscript and make any changes you see that are necessary. Maybe that means expanding on a few scenes, or cutting others out. Maybe you didn’t like the way a character ended up being portrayed, so you rewrite it a little bit.
When you’re finished with self-editing, it’s time to hire a professional to look over your manuscript. The first “official” stage of editing is the Developmental editing. This is also sometimes called a Content Edit or a Structure Edit!
Developmental editing looks at your story from start to finish. The editor analyzes things like: plot, character development, story structure, relationships between characters, themes etc. It’s an overview, not focused on sentence by sentence structure.
This stage is really important because it helps you catch any plot holes, inconsistencies, or lacking areas of your novel.
Typically after the developmental stage, I (Wyeth) like to rewrite the entire book from start to finish. To me, this is when it really starts becoming a book.
After developmental editing, comes line editing. A line editor looks at each individual sentence in your novel and helps craft them to be the strongest they can be. This editor helps you to tighten up your prose and convey exactly what you want with each sentence. Line editors think about the tone, and how to successfully evoke that tone. They think about how sentences flow together, and if they make sense. They are very detailed editors.
If you can only hire one editor throughout the entire process, I think the line editor is the most important. You don’t want to miss out on this step because it is what takes your novel from amateur to professional.
After that is copyediting. Copyeditors are concerned with the mechanics of writing. They make sure you are following the grammar rules and following style guides.
Copyediting is usually lumped in with proofreading. Personally, if you can afford it, why not hire a copyeditor. If you can’t afford it, a really good proofreader is all you need.
Note: Some editors do multiple types of edits at once, while some will keep every type separate and read through your manuscript for each layer.
Which brings us to the final stage of editing: Proofreading. This is the final comb-through of a manuscript. Proofreaders catch any typos or errors that slipped through the cracks. They are the final line of defense before sending your manuscript to the printers.
I recommend hiring a proofreader who has not yet read or worked on your manuscript. The more times a person reads a manuscript, the easier it is for their eyes to gloss over mistakes. Hiring a proofreader with fresh eyes is key because they will catch things you missed.
An extra tip: I recommend you, as the author, proofreading your book one final time when the proofreader is done. That way, you feel the most confident that your manuscript is primed and polished and ready to hit the shelves.
So let’s do a quick review!
This is the first step in the editing process. It is sometimes called a Developmental Edit or a Structure Edit because it primarily focuses on the structure and development of your manuscript. This beginning step ensures that the content is consistent and accurate, and helps improve clarity, readability, and style.
Plot holes, plot strengths, and weaknesses
Story and chapter flow, natural dialogue
Developmental Editing takes us anywhere from 4-8 weeks at the very beginning of our contract with new authors. This is our first point of editing with almost all of our authors.
This is the second step in the editing process and comes after a Content Edit. It focuses on the big picture of your manuscript. It looks at the consistency in your narrative structure, transitions, and the overall flow of the text. Line editing helps to clarify verb tense, voice, and word choice. Line editing helps to shape the text so that it is more readable and impactful.
Correct wordy or confusing sentences
Make suggestions for better readability
Highlight repetitive words and phrases
Point out "Show, don't tell"
Line Editing takes us about 6-10 weeks depending on length, genre, and amount of editing required to polish the manuscript. We make sure to do some line editing on every book we publish to ensure quality!
Copyediting is the third step in the editing process, it comes after the Developmental Edit and the Line Edit. Copyediting usually involves correcting spelling, grammar, and other mistakes, as well as checking for consistency in terms of language, style, and tone. Copyediting can also include rewriting, reorganizing, and fact-checking.
Correct Typos, Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, & Capitalization
Flag Repeat words/ phrases and any in-consistencies
You could expect copyediting to take 2-6 weeks depending on book length and genre. It takes a little less time than the other edits because the heavy editing has already been done and we've likely already caught a number of these errors in a previous edit.
Proofreading is the process of carefully reviewing a document or piece of writing to correct errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax. It is the final step in the editing process, and it helps create a polished, professional-looking document. Proofreading requires a keen eye for detail, and it is important to thoroughly review each sentence and paragraph for accuracy and clarity.
Correct Typos, Spelling and Punctuation,
Fix Capitalization and Formatting.
Final Polish of Manuscript
The final stage of editing happens about 3-4 months before publication. This round of editing takes 2-4 weeks approximately. This is where we break out our red pen for the last time to mark up your manuscript.
In between every stage of editing, we bounce the manuscript back to your for review. We never make edits without you being able to see what's happened. We respect your work and desire to keep your work your own.
We allow our authors about 6 weeks to review and make any changes before we move onto the next type of editing. We also have regular zoom calls to chat about the edits and trajectory of the book. Keeping our timeline and tone in mind to make sure everyone is happy!
Then at the end of all those rounds of edits, we have a beautiful manuscript we're both proud of! Ready for publishing & sharing with the world.
Let us know if you have any questions or stories to share in the comments below! If you’re interested in learning more about our editorial services, check out our Service page here!