Types of Editing
The definitions below generally apply to book manuscripts and other large projects.
Developmental Editing is assessing a manuscript in a "big picture" kind of way. This type of edit is sometimes done before a manuscript is completely written, but can also be valuable as an assessment of a completed work. In a developmental evaluation, I'll read your manuscript and produce a report that outlines its strengths and weaknesses. I'll also recommend major and minor overhauls to plot, pacing, and character development (fiction) or the organization of your chapters and content (nonfiction). In most cases, I won't be editing much directly within the text itself, though I'll probably be making comments out in the margin to communicate both constructive criticism and encouragement. One of the most important goals of developmental editing is to draw out your strengths so you can wield them in your revisions.
Stylistic or"Line" Editing is done at the paragraph and sentence level. I'll be smoothing out transitions between scenes and making sure the tone of your writing is where it needs to be in each section. I'll iron out any wrinkles in plot and character issues (fiction) and make sure that each sentence fits in with the overall work. Most importantly, I'll make sure that your writing is polished and ready to connect with your intended audience.
Copyediting is a thorough edit of the nitty-gritty details of English usage: punctuation, grammar, spelling, syntax, consistency, fact-checking, and so on. If your work is required to adhere to a certain style manual, I'll be editing for that as well.
Proofreading is a final read-through to catch any outstanding problems at the end of the editing process. By this time, the major and minor revisions should already be complete. This step is a final check to make sure no errors were missed or accidentally introduced in producing the final draft. In proofreading, I'll be making any necessary corrections within the text; there will few, if any, comments out in the margins.
For most projects, my editing falls into one of two categories: developmental evaluations (as described above) and comprehensive editing, which I will describe here.
The lines between the various types of editing are a little blurry. Even their names and definitions can vary from editor to editor. And even if you hire an editor to do only a certain type of editing, the lines continue to blur. Line editing is sometimes done as its own pass, but it also takes place during developmental and copyediting. If I'm copyediting your manuscript, my focus will be on those nitty-gritty details, but I'm still going to bring a gaping plot hole or obvious character issue to your attention.
My hourly rate doesn't vary much between the types of editing because charging by the hour not only compensates for your writing skill, content, and subject area; it also compensates for the inherent pace of each type of editing and how labor intensive it will be.
I'm certainly willing to do a single type of editing if asked to. For example: perhaps you've already had the developmental and line editing done, but you'd like a second set of eyes for the copyediting. In some cases, as with doctoral students, I will be following guidelines which limit my editing to certain areas anyway.
But for most completed manuscripts, a comprehensive edit is the way to go. Simply put, I'll be doing developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting all at once. If you're self-publishing a book, you'll still need a final proofreading pass once you've made your final revisions. We can incorporate the proofread into the same contract as the comprehensive edit or, if you prefer, or it can be treated as a separate project.
I also offer partial edits. Whether you're still in the early stages of writing or your budget isn't ready for a full editing pass, a partial edit to the first few thousand words of your document can give you the tools to hone your writing and self-editing skills. I'll do a comprehensive edit for the portion you've selected, packing plenty of literary coaching out in the margins.