You’ve finished a book! Congratulations! That is a major accomplishment. Take a moment to celebrate! We’ll even do a victory dance with you.
Now what? For most writers, the logical next step is to find an editor. Here are two questions writers often ask when looking for an editor:
- Is there anything I should know before sending my book to an experienced editor?
- What kind of edit does my book need?
Salt & Sage offers several options for authors needing help with a brand-new book: reader reports, developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading.
But which one(s) should you choose and when?
Perhaps you’ve written a romance, and your mom loves it, but maybe you’re not sure if anyone else will. Or maybe you’ve written a suspense novel but are wondering if the ideas are good enough to develop further. Some writers want more feedback on their initial book draft before investing time and money in a developmental edit. A reader report is a fast way to get some basic feedback on your overall plot.
A reader report can be compared to consulting a party-savvy friend about throwing a cool get-together. Your friend will tell you which ideas are amazing and which might need work, send you decoration ideas for your theme, and help you figure out whether you need a chocolate or cheese fondue fountain. It’s the same with a reader report: you’ll get kind, honest, general feedback about what’s working, what needs work, whether your book fits with its genre, and advice to help it fit even better.
Once you have a finished book that you’re ready to take to the next level, it’s time for a developmental edit. Our comprehensive developmental edits address elements such as setting, description, plot holes, continuity, characterization, subplots, chapter structure, etc. Developmental editing is for both fiction and nonfiction.
If you were throwing a big, fancy party that you wanted to be the talk of the town, your developmental editor would be the party planner. Just like a party planner makes sure the catering, music, and entertainment all balance each other perfectly, a developmental editor helps ensure that your book’s unique elements are balanced in order to give readers a satisfying experience. (After all, it wouldn’t do to run out of cake at a party.)
What type of manuscript needs a developmental edit?
• A manuscript that only the author has read
• A manuscript that only friends and/or family have read
• A manuscript that has a lot of plot elements/multiple subplots
• Any manuscript an author isn’t certain is covering all the basic areas of storytelling
Here’s a common question: “I’m satisfied with the structure of my book. Can we skip the developmental edit and go straight to line editing?”
It’s your book, so you get to decide. But we don’t recommend skipping a developmental edit unless you have been studying the writing craft for several years and have one or both of the following:
• A successfully published author mentor along with several readers in your genre
• A critique group with successfully published writers
Writing is a skill you continue developing with each book. Since a well-told story has so many moving parts, it’s essential to have an expert assist you to make sure those parts are all there and working properly. We at Salt & Sage would love to help you with this, but honestly, it doesn’t matter whether you choose us or other industry professionals. What does matter is that your book has what it needs. After all, you’ve worked so hard. Your story deserves to shine!
If your book receives a line edit when it needs a developmental edit, you run the risk of having a polished book that is missing critical story elements. That can be a problem when you want the story to resonate with readers. For this reason, we recommend developmental editing for most manuscripts. Even authors with several published books under their belts hire developmental editors to make sure they haven’t missed anything critical.
We know that developmental editing—while worth every penny—can be costly. To help our clients, we have two options to choose from:
Light Developmental Edit
• A highly customizable edit that focuses on four essential keys of storytelling and writing
• A more affordable edit to help you level up your writing
Deep Developmental Edit
• Like taking a college-level course with your manuscript as the textbook
• Focuses on eight critical areas that will make your storytelling and writing glow
Once your developmental edits are done and your story structure is in place, it’s time to smooth out the rough edges. This is where line and copy editing come in. We combine both in our line-editing package.
Line editing is what happens after the party’s over and the cleanup has begun. Like wiping frosting off the chandelier and coaxing Uncle Bobby out from under the sofa, line editing helps put the details of your manuscript to rights.
A line edit addresses sentence structure and flow, grammar, passive voice, misused/often-used words, paragraph length, style, dialogue tags, spelling, punctuation, and other things unique to your manuscript. This is where we help you polish your prose while keeping your author voice intact.
“All right,” you might be thinking, “then what’s the difference between a line edit and a proofread?”
We’re so glad you asked.
Proofreading is the final step before submission or publication. If proofreading were part of our party scenario, it would be that last look around the room to make sure that Uncle Bobby had gotten into the cab instead of crawling back under the sofa, that no one had stuffed cake behind the potted plant, and that all the lights were off before locking up.
Often, when fixing issues found during a line edit, even experienced authors accidentally delete a period, create a comma splice, or insert the same word twice. A proofread is designed to find minor mistakes and typos and is priced accordingly. If your manuscript hasn’t been line edited by either an editor or a highly skilled critique partner/mentor, it will need one before it’s ready for a proofread.
There you have it! We hope this post has helped you understand the differences between our basic editing options. If you still have questions about which type of edit is right for your project, please send us a message and/or request a consult. We’d love to party with you!
Rebecca Blevins is an editor at Salt and Sage. Read more about her here. __