Different levels, kinds of editing exist

The importance of an editor can’t be understated for self-publishing authors. A human editor can use years of experience and expertise to point out parts of a text that won’t make sense to reader, to pick up on nuances, and to mentor you in the craft of writing. A software program at best can point out typos, capitalization errors, and a few misused punctuation marks.

Not all edits done by an editor are equal, though. Depending on your ability as a writer and the number of drafts you’ve taken a manuscript through, you will require a different type of edit. Knowing the four general kinds of edits can help you better determine and then communicate to an editor the type of service you need.

There generally are four basic type of edits:
• Developmental editing – This involves working with the writer to take a book concept from start to finish.
• Substantive editing – The focus is identifying and offering solutions to problems in a manuscript that the author has just “completed.”
• Copy editing – The editor’s lens tightens on spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar and craftsmanship issues that remain after the manuscript has gone through several drafts.
• Proofreading – Typos in the text and formatting errors are identified in a copy of the manuscript about to go to the printer.

Traditionally, a manuscript would go through at least each of these edits once. Often copy editing and proofreading would occur several times on a manuscript, sometimes even done by different editors.

That’s an expensive route for those self-publishing books. Most self-published authors can do the developmental and substantive editing themselves with the help of fellow writers or colleagues. They definitely need copy editing and then a proofreading of their formatted book by an outside source, though. And if a beginning writer, having a substantive edit done until you become more skilled is a good idea.

During the days ahead, we’ll look more in depth at each these different types of editing.