Are you considering having your book professionally edited? If you are, you may be wondering what types of editing services are available for authors. The truth is that the names of the editing services can be dependent on the editor or editing service company. A few common editing services include proofreading, line editing, developmental editing and beta readers. Since the names and types of editing vary greatly between editors, it’s very important to thoroughly read each type of editing offered to make sure it meets your needs and your expectations.
1. Beta Readers
Beta readers are volunteers. They don’t charge and shouldn’t charge to read your manuscript. You can think of them as prepublication book reviewers. Typically, your beta readers are going to be people you know, like friends, family members, social media buddies and coworkers. There are also individuals who advertise that they are beta readers. These people may be looking for free books to read because they can’t afford to buy books, or they are other authors who like to keep up on the industry and/or who like to help other authors be successful. It’s important to vet beta readers thoroughly, especially if it’s an author or writer that you do not know that you found via an Internet search. While most beta readers are honest and want to help you, there are a few that are unscrupulous, and these guys will take your work, alter it or not alter it, and publish it under their names. So be careful when choosing your beta readers.
As to what to expect from your beta readers. These guys are not editors, so they’ll not going to correct typos or anything like that, nor should they. What your beta reader should do is tell you their overall honest opinion of your book and tell you where they thought it fell short and where it excelled. It’s best to have more than one beta reader. I’d recommend getting a minimum of three and probably more. Not every beta-reader that receives a copy of your manuscript is going to read it in a timely manner, and some may forget they have it. It goes without saying that your book should be 95 percent finished before you send it to beta readers.
2. Book Indexing
Book indexing basically finds every instance of everything in your book. It goes well beyond a basic table of contents in that it lists every instance of every major character, every place, every major and minor concept and every key term referenced in the book. Not to mention, the index is located at the back of the book whereas the table of contents is located in the front. This is most commonly used for non-fiction books that contain a lot of vocabulary terms and graphs and charts, but it is increasingly making its way into fiction books. While you can do this yourself, it’s extremely time-consuming without the right software. A few pieces of indexing software that I found with a quick Internet search include TExtract, Cindex, SimpleIndex and IndexGenerator. The good news is that if you use novel writing software, like Scrivener, Bibisco or yWriter, and you tag your book thoroughly as you write, you’ll be able to create this yourself with a little bit (or a lot of) time and patience.
Copyediting is often used interchangeably with Line Editing and may be referred to as sentence-level editing. It can also be referred to as a mechanical edit. When you request a copyediting service from an editor, you can expect them to check for grammar, punctuation, spelling and style errors. The reason it’s often used interchangeably with line editing is that the editor must check the material line by line for errors, including syntax errors, consistency and flow. If the work needs to adhere to a certain length or a particular format, the copyeditor will also ensure the text meets the length and is formatted correctly for the publication. Some copyeditors will also fact-check the work, which is essential if your novel contains real facts and/or is set in the past.
4. Developmental Edit
A developmental edit finds large errors in the text. Developmental editing can also be referred to as a structural edit, manuscript appraisal and conceptual editing. A developmental editor must be intuitive and experienced in order to find structural errors with the novel. Structural errors can consist of missing sections, areas where there isn’t enough description or there is too much description, timing errors and major and minor plots that are incomplete. They also check the overall tone of the novel and the overall writing style. This can be a very time-consuming edit, and it’s often the most expensive type of edit you can get for your book.
For historical novels and novels that are set in real places and use real technologies, it may be wise to get a fact-checking or research edit. These edits involve making sure that all the facts in your book are historically accurate or accurate according to current technology or current places. For example, if you stated that the Civil War resulted in 600,000 deaths, your fact-checker would research how many individuals were killed in the Civil War to make sure that your number is correct. In this instance, 620,000 were killed in the American Civil War. If your book is set in Indianapolis and you mentioned that 171st street is located in downtown Indianapolis, your fact-checker would look at a map to make sure that was correct. In this instance, 171st street is many miles north of downtown Indianapolis.
If you’re having trouble consistently formatting your manuscript, which can happen with extremely long fiction and non-fiction works, you may consider having an editor format it for you. This type of edit consists of making sure that all your chapter and scene titles are consistent and that the text is formatted correctly for the publication where it is to be made for sale or read by readers. You might choose to have your book formatted for ebook or print sales or formatted for a specific magazine or writing contest.
7. Line Edit
The term line editing is often used interchangeably with copyediting and is also sometimes referred to as substantive editing or paragraph-level editing. However, it can also be a separate service. When line editing is listed along with copyediting on an editor’s website, you can expect the service to check your work line by line and sentence by sentence for style and flow issues, verb consistency and to add or eliminate words for clarity. Your line editor may also do some light restructuring of paragraphs for clarity and/or flow, but the basic goal of a line edit is to ensure that the works flows well, is easily readable, stylistically consistent. If you’re writing for a particular audience, like children, adults or seniors, the line editor is going to make sure that the language is appropriate for the specific audience and may change, delete or add words accordingly.
Proofreading is a very light edit. It can also be referred to as a word-level edit. It does not significantly change the text. Instead, a proofreader looks for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. This is the least expensive type of edit you can purchase, but due to the nature of the edit, you must find an editor that is extremely detail-oriented. They cannot skim through the work and locate every mistake, especially grammar and comma issues. By the time your proofreader finishes, your manuscript should contain zero technical errors. This is the last edit your book should receive.
A book reviewer reviews published books (or books that are about to be published) and offers their opinion on the story. They state whether they liked the book and whether it had any issues related to the plot, characters, etc. Book reviewers may also offer a star rating. Like a beta-reader, book reviewers offer their opinion of the book as a whole. At the very least, you can expect the book reviewer to write the review and post it on his or her website. Most reviewers will also post their reviews to Goodreads. (It is very rare for a book reviewer to post a review to Amazon due to the strict review requirements.)
Some editors will offer rewriting and/or drafting services. This is where the editor goes through the material and performs the next draft. In order for this to be successful, the editor must be able to mirror the author’s writing style and language and add pertinent details and forgotten or missed passages to the text. If the editor gets this correct, it can save the author a lot of time in the writing process. If the editor gets this wrong, the author can’t use the material.
Self-editing is exactly as it sounds. The author performs all or some of the editing himself or herself. The author can self-edit according to his or her gut or refer to several self-editing books to help them through the process. Some authors are so proficient at self-editing that they may only need a proofreading edit and/or beta readers to test the material. When an author can completely self-edit a book, they can save themselves thousands in editing fees.
Post sponsored by @raquelgraffen
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