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What Are the Different Types of Editing, and Which Does Your Book Need?

Editing is one of the most important steps in the publication process, helping to ensure that your book is as wonderful as it can be before it goes to print. But there are different types and stages of editing. Often, new authors find the editing landscape confusing. What are the different types of editing, and which does your book need?

Step 1: Developmental Editing

Developmental editing, also called structural editing, focuses on just those things: developing the structure of your overarching narrative. Developmental editing is about the big picture of your manuscript. It should be the first step in your editing journey.

What kinds of narrative elements will a developmental editor focus on?

  • premise

  • plot

  • pacing

  • theme

  • characterization

  • point of view

  • writing style & tone

It’s important to note that developmental editing is NOT the same as ghostwriting, in which a professional is hired to write your story for you. Instead, developmental editing leaves creative control with the author. A developmental editor will read and analyze your manuscript before writing a developmental letter. A developmental letter!? What’s that?

A developmental letter includes:

  • commendations for the things in your manuscript that are working well

  • constructive criticism outlining the areas in need of improvement

  • guidance and advice to help you make the necessary changes to your manuscript

  • tips, tricks, and examples to show you how to revise and rewrite effectively

After developmental editing, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools you need to make changes to your work and prepare it for the next step in the editing process.

Step 2: Line Editing

Line editing focuses on sentence-level changes and restructuring. This is where your editor will focus on the ways in which you communicate your ideas. Is this essential? You bet it is! Line editing is an important of preparing any book for publication.

In line editing, changes may be made to improve:

  • flow

  • clarity

  • grammatical structures

  • rhyme or rhythm (where applicable)

At the line editing stage, your editor will be responsible for the changes that are made. Most editors use Microsoft Word’s tracked changes feature or something similar, so you’ll be able to review and ask questions about any alterations that are made to your writing. Line editing is sometimes combined with the next step of the editing process, which is . . .

Step 3: Copyediting

When you hear the word “editing,” copyediting is probably what comes to mind. A copyeditor’s job is to focus on the small stuff, enforcing the rules of writing. Copyediting is a very important step in making sure that your book is as neat, tidy, and error-free as possible when it is published.

Your copyeditor will make changes to correct:

  • grammar

  • spelling

  • punctuation

  • facts (if applicable)

By the end of the copyediting stage, you’ll have a manuscript that is ready for book design and formatting. Any major changes will be finalized, and you’ll be getting closer to holding your finished book in your hands!

Step 4: Proofreading

What? There’s another stage!? Yes, there is! After copyediting, there’s a delay in the editing process as your book moves through the design and formatting processes. Once these are done, it’s time to come back to the editorial process for one last check.

Proofreading is an opportunity for an editorial professional to catch any last errors that might have popped up since copyediting (perhaps your designer misplaced a comma or misspelled a word, or maybe half a sentence went missing in a computer glitch). But proofreaders do much more than just check text. What else do they do, you ask? Well . . .

Your proofreader will be looking for:

  • spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in the text

  • correctness of copyright information

  • incorrect page numbers or contents page entries

  • chapter titles, headers, and footers

  • margins that don’t line up

  • spacing errors

  • font or print inconsistencies

  • words or lines that are awkwardly or unusually placed

  • missing or faulty images or illustrations

  • overall book layout and design

Proofreading is the last step in the editorial process, which means it’s also the last chance to spot issues before your book is printed and published. That’s why it’s so important!


Did this blog post teach you something about the different types of editing? Which stage of editing do you look forward to most?

At Wildflower Books, we offer a range of editing and proofreading services. We specialize in children’s fiction, from picture books and YA novels, and have helped many authors create fantastic books. If you’d like to learn more about your editing options, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email today!

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