Have you reached the stage in your writing project where you think it’s time to hire an editor?
If so, then it’s helpful to know that editors fall into three basic categories: proofreaders, line or content editors, and development editors:
- Proofreaders check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and punctuation, as well as sentence order and flow.
- Line or content editors check these qualities and read for content—whether the writing flows well and makes sense, and whether any major element is obviously missing.
- Development editors may do some proofreading and reading for content, but they focus mostly on the work as a whole and the major issues and subtleties therein—such as character development, plot, point of view and structure—with an eye toward positioning the work for publication.
To determine which type of editor is best for your project, ask yourself these questions:
- What is my budget for polishing the manuscript?
- Have I done as much as I can to complete the work?
- Do I suspect something fundamental may be missing or underdeveloped?
If your budget is tight and you’ve done significant revising, a good proofreader may be sufficient. If you’ve revised and polished the work but want to make sure it shines, a line or content editor may work fine. If your work is complex and/or you suspect an important element may be missing or underdeveloped, you may need a development editor. This is especially important because unless you fill the gaps, you may get glowing rejections that are still rejections.
Whether you opt for agent representation, independent publishing or going directly to a book printer, be prepared for the same considerations. Literary agents still get involved in editing on occasion or if they like your work will request an R&R, revise and resubmit. But no one has time to do the work the writer should do. Independent publishing and book printers also have editors available, usually for a separate charge, so you’ll still need to know what kind of editor to work with.
Regardless of the scenario you’re considering, it’s helpful to do a cost analysis of each option before selecting one. A good source for more information is Preditors andEditors.