The Different Types Of Edits

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

Editing can intimidate anyone. Before I worked in a publishing house and began my proofreading and editing diploma, I would edit my book using some (or all!) of these edits, with no rhyme or reason to it.

Don't do that!

This is a way for you to confuse things and make changes that might ruin the entire flow of your story.

If you decide that you don't want a professional editor, then you must shift your mindset from writer to editor. This is important because if you remember my last blog post '5 Strategies When Editing Your First-Draft' .

One tip to editing your draft was to be the reader. This means taking a few days/ weeks break from your manuscript and returning with fresh eyes. Then, once we do this, you must read the whole manuscript without editing.

That's right, put your red pens down and grab a blanket because to edit your work, you must know:

  • How it flows

  • Are there any major or minor plot holes?

  • Are your characters relatable?

  • How is the format and structure?

This will enable you to decide which edit to start from and to understand which edits you need. This is because there are several ways you can and will edit your drafts. It takes time so you need a coherent plan of how you will edit with several questions and points for you to follow. This will ensure you are staying focused and not just editing with no plan. This will not work.

So, without further ado, here are the different types of edits...

This is exactly what the name suggests. It looks at the development of the story. This means that a developmental editor will ask questions which you can view by clicking here.

Developmental editing is the 'big picture' editing. You can do this before you write the book and this is where the initial concept and the story outline are discussed, planned and edited to fit with the structure. Editors will look at the organisation, presentation and the 'bigger picture' concepts such as flow, consistency, dialogue, plots and subplots.

Essentially, this edit will look at all the aspects of a manuscript which make the book.

This is the most common type of editing. Some editors distinguish three different levels of intensity which are 'light edit', 'medium edit' and 'heavy edit.' This is self- explanatory and refers to the work that is completed during the copy edit.

However, some editors prefer not to use these distinctions and split their editing into two parts, the baseline edit (light) and the line edit (heavy). Baseline editing concentrates on grammar and punctuation, whereas line editing focuses on clarity of sentences and ensure the consistency of style.

Please see the checklist sheet here for a printable and questions you should ask if you're editing yourself.

This is the one that confuses most and has sparked debates amongst the editing world. Some believe that proofreading is the first form of editing to occur. This is not the case.

Proofreading is the last check for errors before the manuscript goes off for publication. This process is to check the 'proofs' of a text before an author makes their work public.

I (and many authors and editors) prefer to edit with a pen and paper. This, I feel, is the most effective way. When I and most people read a manuscript on a computer screen, I skim over the errors without even realising it!

Though, because of computer advancement, there are a lot of online software which can make editing easier for many authors who are not trained in editing. This isn't always advised because a computer can still miss mistakes.

A proofreader will not edit changes in grammar, style, consistency or fact checking. This is not part of the job description (even though I fall into the bracket that will edit if something is amiss, oops!)

So, a proofreader will check for final errors before the publication.

Please see the checklist sheet here for a printable and questions you should ask if you're editing yourself.

I'm guessing if you are reading this then you're planning on self-publishing your own work. This means you are the publisher. Editing correctly is critical. Even if you are editing yourself, don't jump straight into it. Make sure you have read your manuscript carefully and you have a strict plan going forward.

Don't fall into the trap of editing wrong and having to go back again and asking a professional editor to fix this for you. This is timely, and if you're on a deadline, costly! We do not want that for you!

If you have questions, then please comment on this post and I will get back to you!

Until next time, my fellow book-lovers!

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