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4 Types of Editing & How To Choose Which Your Book Needs

Read Time: 2 min

Note: Melissa no longer offers these services. This post remains as archived content for your reference.

One of the most common questions I get as an editor is about what different types of editing there are and what each one entails.

New clients aren't always sure what level of editing they need and don't know how to make that decision. Before you can decide between the different types of editing you need to understand which each one includes.

Below are the four editing services I offer and a brief description of each. I'll focus on how to choose between them in an upcoming post.

Authors can choose from:

  • Content Editing
  • Copy Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Book Proposal Assistance

In addition to these, I also offer a special "sales" package, for authors who need help developing copy for their book's sales page.

*A Quick Note: I believe firmly in your role as the author, and any and all suggestions are just that—suggestions. I believe in discussing ways to improve your work, but always keep in mind that preserving your artistic voice and expression are paramount.*

What is Content Editing (aka Structural Editing)?

Content editing involves:

  • An in-depth read through of your manuscript
  • Extensive commentary on your plot line, character development and pacing

Particular attention is paid to the introduction (an area authors often have the most trouble with) to ensure it captures a new reader's interest and draws them into the story. It may include suggestions to rearrange the order in which information is presented to the reader and/or recommendations on where you expand a plot point.

What is Copy Editing?

This is what most people think of when they think of editing–it includes:

  • Checking for consistency, grammar, typos, misspellings, verb tense, etc.
  • Reviewing the the piece paragraph by paragraph and suggesting ways to make it stronger

It involves looking at the piece line by line to ensure each word is essential to each sentence, each sentence important in each paragraph and each paragraph important in the work as a whole. Copy editing includes re-working sentence structure for clarity, and reviewing scenes with an eye for detail—ie. if Jack just turned his back on Josephine, that she doesn't then knock him to his back with a kick to the balls or that someone with blue eyes in the beginning of a piece doesn't end up with brown eyes later on.

What is Proofreading?

A much less invasive version of editing, proofreading involves:

  • Checking for grammatical correctness
  • Adherence to a style guide
  • Consistency in terms of style.*

*For example, ensuring internal dialogue that is initially show in italics, is always in italics or that if an author uses a serial comma—the comma before the word "and," which is used in some style guides but not in others—that it is consistent throughout the work.

What Does Book Proposal Assistance Include?

As part of my Masters in Publishing program, we spent an extended period of time discussing book proposals—what to include, what not to include and how to judge books by their proposals. When I assist an author in putting together a book proposal, all of this knowledge is at his or her disposal.

  • We begin with a basic "how-to" session and conversation
  • Then I review and edit the authors book proposal, making suggestions to help strengthen it

I am also happy to help authors customize individual proposals to particular houses. However, I am not an agent and book proposal assistance does not include assistance actually pitching the work (although I am happy to offer suggestions for how to find an agent or publishing house to pitch).

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