I love to read and write. Those two things have been a part of my life for, well, ever! I was making up stories before I could even read, but once I learned how you could always find me with my nose in a book. When I'm not writing in the technical world I write within multiple fiction and non-fiction genres under my own name and the pen names Gwen Snow, Rowyn Thorson, and Axl Hawke. I..
Copyediting is next in our series! This type of editing is the most common among independent authors and is the type most people think about when they start talking about editing. You’ll see this spelled one of three ways: copyediting, copy-editing, and copy editing. All three are valid.
What Is Copyediting?
This is the edit that looks at mechanics. So, we’re looking for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, clarity, fact-checking, and all the nitty-gritty mechanical details. If an author only budgets for one type of editing, it’s this one.
When you get your manuscript back it may or may not be covered in red. This really depends on how good you are at self-editing. If you’re good at it, you won’t see outrageous amounts of red. If you’re not so good, no big deal because your copyeditor is there to help with exactly that.
It’s important to remember that any editing can be very subjective. Even when we have style guides with all kinds of rules. Annoyingly, many of these rules have exceptions and those exceptions tend to be subjective. English is a hot mess of a language.
In a copyedit, your editor will create a style guide unique to your story. This will contain the spelling and descriptions of your characters and places/locations to ensure consistency. This will also contain specific words you spell differently on purpose or that are just “your style.” This might also contain various spellings of various different aspects of your story. Your editor may or may not give this to you. You can certainly request it. Sometimes, it’s helpful to give to a proofreader.
What Copyediting Is Not
This is not the place to address major plot points, questionable character motives, description, and any other developmental-type edits. These kinds of concerns can cause major rewrites so you don’t want to worry about those in a copyedit. Bringing these issues up at this point could make you want to rewrite your whole story. Then what’s the point in copyediting?
If those are items you’re somewhat concerned about, discuss with your copyeditor. They may be willing to do a bit of developmental editing before launching into the copyedit.
I do not copyedit dialogue. Not exactly. We speak in so many different dialects and accents with all kinds of slang that I’m not gonna “fix” those unless you want me to. Your character’s dialogue is showing the reader how they speak, so it should be reflected accordingly. I don’t know too many people who actually speak with perfect grammar anyway.
For American editors, the primary style guide is The Chicago Manual of Style along with The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. These will differ depending not only on which English you’re using (US, UK, CAN, AUS), but also what type of writing (fiction, academic, scientific, etc.).
Line editing is the second round of editing you might consider having done on your manuscript. Where developmental editing was my favorite type, line editing is my least favorite to do as an editor.
What Is Line Editing?
This type of editing checks for clarity, flow, sentence structure, and point of view. Your editor will literally go line by line to ensure each one is where it needs to be and that each word is the right one for that sentence. They may suggest you move lines around or they may rewrite lines to eliminate wordiness. Ultimately, they are trying to ensure each line flows smoothly into the next. All while maintaining your author voice!
There may or may not be copious amounts of red on your manuscript when you get it back. It is not uncommon, though, for it to be covered in red. Don’t panic. Give yourself a few days to process and review. When you’ve had time to look over the edits, contact your editor with any questions you have about their suggestions.
What It Is Not
This depends on who you talk to. Often times, this editing does not include copyediting. Your line editor may find and note glaring mechanical errors, but that’s not exactly what they’re looking for. This editing could also result in some rewrites, so you don’t want to get too deep into mechanics here. But your editor may consider line editing something they do inside of copyediting. It really depends on them.
Why I Don’t Offer It Anymore
I felt really exhausted with this kind of editing. I found I was rewriting the story and struggling to keep the author’s voice and that’s not what I’m here to do. I was not enjoying it, so I don’t offer it anymore. There are some editors who only do line editing. Some people love it!
As always, make sure you know how your editor is defining these different types of edits.
For my post on my favorite type of editing, click here!
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. This post will be the first of the main four types of editing. Developmental editing is my favorite type of editing. So, let’s get started!
What Is Developmental Editing?
This is commonly known as the “Big Picture” edit. You may see this type of editing referred to as substantive editing, content editing, or a manuscript evaluation. This is where your editor is looking for scene building, character building, plot, climax, plot holes, flow, and point of view. They’re checking to ensure you’re meeting the standards for your chosen genre. And if you’re not, is that an intentional decision or a lack of understanding?
When you get your edited manuscript back, do not panic! It may be covered in red, but that’s okay! Your editor is supposed to question things and help you get to the best story you can. They may suggest you move chapters around, that you move scenes around, that you cut entire chapters or scenes or characters. Developmental editing can result in major rewrites! Try to keep an open mind!
I think developmental editing can be the hardest for authors to accept because we are so attached to our stories. We may not be able to see that we have scenes that do nothing for the story or characters that do nothing for the story. A developmental editor is gonna help you see those kinds of big picture edits.
If you find that you are really upset by your editor’s suggestions, take a step back. Give yourself a few days to process those emotions. It’s okay to feel that way. Once you’ve had a chance to process, come back and try to see what your editor was getting at. If you still don’t understand, call or email them and ask why they made the suggestions they did. Communicate!
Why I love It
Developmental editing is my favorite because it is so creative. As an editor, I love helping authors take their stories to the next level. I enjoy offering input and guidance into scenes and characters. As a writer, I love this editing because I can’t wait to see what my editor will say. Sometimes I feel really validated when they agree with my chapters. Sometimes I feel upset when they recommend getting rid of scenes. And sometimes I’m just blown away by their suggestions because of how brilliant they are!
What Developmental Editing Is Not
Developmental editing is not copyediting! Your editor is not looking for mechanics here. They are not looking for grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, or any of that mechanical stuff. There is no point in copyediting during a developmental edit becasue you could end up rewriting major parts of the story. Make sure you understand what exactly you’re hiring your editor to do.
What To Tell Your Editor
When you’re looking for a developmental editor ensure you know how they are defining developmental editing. That’s important. Next, tell them exactly what you want to get out of this experience. Tell them about any concerns you have regarding your story so they can focus on those areas. Are you concerned about character descriptions, a certain chapter, or a certain scene? Tell them!
Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Pubishers by Scott Norton
I want to start this series with self-editing because this is really the first step in the editing process. There is no right or wrong way to self-edit. Everyone is different and everyone has their own way of doing it. Comment below with your own self-editing tips!
So, for me, the official self-editing starts after my third draft:
Step 1: Let It Breath. I mean put it away and don’t look at it for a while. For me, this is for two months. I need time to forget as much of the story as I can. When I come back to it, my eyes are fresh and it’s almost like looking at a manuscript from a client. Almost…
Step 2: The Big Picture Edit. I try to make sure my hook is right. I look for character development and scene building. Does a particular chapter need more description? Does this character serve a purpose or could I cut them and the story wouldn’t notice? I do whatever rewrites I feel I need and I put it away again. But not quite as long. Maybe a few weeks.
Step 3: The Copyedit. I try to find all my missing words, spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and all that mechanical stuff. I say “try” because as I edit, my brain starts remembering the story and I start missing things that need to be fixed. My brain knows there should be a comma there so it puts it in, even though it actually isn’t. Again, I make my changes and let it sit for about a week.
Step 4: The Proofread. I go through my manuscript one last time. I look for anything I might’ve missed in the previous rounds and make those changes. Once I’m satisfied, I send it off to my editor.
What do you do when you’re done with self-editing? Do you send it to beta readers? Editors? Drop a comment below!
*Spellcheck and Grammarly are helpful tools. While they won’t catch everything, or they’ll even suggest incorrect fixes, they certainly can help improve your mechanics. If the paid version of Grammarly isn’t in your budget, the free version of Grammarly is still helpful.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
The Elements of Style by William Strunk
The Writer’s Guide to Character Emotion by S. A. Soule
Write Naked by Jennifer Probst (especially for romance writers!)
This post is to kick off a 10-part editing series I’ve been working on.
What’s the deal with book editing? Have you started to wade into the world of editing and found that you’re a bit lost and confused? Don’t sweat it. Even editors can have an interesting time trying to navigate this world. If you ask 20 different editors to define the different types of editing, you’ll get 20 different answers. My goal with this series is to help alleviate some of that confusion. It’s important to note that the information you will find in this series is based on my experiences, thoughts, and opinions. What works for me might not work for you. The way I edit might be different from other editors. And all of that is okay!
This series is geared toward self-publishers and indie authors. But those of you looking to traditionally publish will get insight into some of the editing phases your manuscript might go through with a publisher.
So, here is my outline for what I plan to discuss:
Part 1: Self-Editing
Part 2: Manuscript Evaluation
Part 3: Developmental Edit
Part 4: Line Edit
Part 5: Copyedit
Part 6: Proofread
Part 7: How To Find An Editor
Part 8: Editing Costs
Part 9: Free Resources
Part 10: Books
I’m also working on building a YouTube channel to coincide with this series! Stay tuned. If you have anything you’d like to see, please tell me in the comments!
This depends entirely on you. Some people use them. Others don’t. Reasons why one might consider a pen name include, but are not limited to:
You share a name with a popular author
You don’t like your real name
You name is very popular or very common
An author is already using your name
You want to differentiate between genres
You want anonymity
You need a buffer between your professional and personal lives
Your name is difficult to pronounce
Your name is very long
There are endless reasons why you might choose to use a pen name. If you’re a school principal who writes erotica, you may not want your name attached to it. If your name is Stephen King, you won’t want to be using the same name as the famous horror novelist. If your name is super long it may not fit on a cover. The list goes on.
I use multiple pen names. My top reasons are:
I want to differentiate between multiple genres.
People can’t pronounce my last name.
People can’t spell my first or last name.
My real name doesn’t fit well with fiction (in my opinion).
I have no issue with my pen names being associated with my real name.
When deciding on a pen name consider the following:
Is someone else already using it? Google it and check Goodreads. Try to make it unique.
When it comes to legal stuff your pen name is yours, but there may be some catches. If you self-publish you, retain your rights. If you ever go traditional, you probably won’t be able to use that name with the publisher. If you publish traditionally, read the contract carefully. They should only get rights to that pen name, not to any others you have or will create. You will most likely still use your real name to sign contracts and collect checks. If complete anonymity is your goal, this can get much more complicated. Be honest with your publisher about your names or desire to use a pen name. They may even supply you with one.
Finding a pen name that works can take some time. I created lots but found them to be in use by other authors or porn stars. That’s why it’s important to do a little research before landing on one! It can be discouraging to see someone else has your name. I know. But keep at it and you’ll find one you like.
If you’re trying to get serious about your writing career, then a website should absolutely be on your list of things to do. But what the heck should it look like? What should I have on it? What the what? No worries, I’ll help get you sorted.
To get started, you need to choose a platform. There are a number of them and you can’t go too wrong with any of the major ones. The big players in this game are WordPress, Wix, and Weebly. You also need to decide if you’ll be hosting it yourself or having them do it. Check out WordPress for Beginners to get a better understanding of this difference. For reference, I operate this writing blog on WordPress.org and host it on Bluehost. This way, I have more control over my own site. I operate a health and fitness blog on WordPress.com and WordPress.com hosts it. Both have worked just fine for me, but WordPress.com could close my site at any time for any reason.
Getting through this part is pretty quick and easy. I had my two blogs up and running in one day. It’s designing and maintaining it that takes up most of your time.
Once you have your platform picked out you need to choose a theme and start designing. The basic design will depend on your overall goal. I think writer websites can be split into two basic categories, freelancer or author. You can swing both if that’s what you’re after (I do). But let’s focus on one at a time.
If you’re aiming for a freelancer site, you might consider these pages:
Use keywords about your niche
Specify your niche!
Make it pop! Why should a potential client keep looking at your site?
Photo. A professional photo goes a long way. Just sayin’.
Don’t talk about your childhood or hobbies. Clients don’t want to see that. They want to see why they should hire you. Showcase your previous experience, skills, projects, awards, etc. They don’t need to read that you’ve been writing since before you could walk.
Content Creation? Copywriting? Editing? Proofreading? What is it specifically that you do?
This is a great place to showcase samples of your work. You could also have a separate samples page if you’d rather.
You can always adjust as necessary. You’ll also want to include links to your social media accounts. Having an email sign-up button is also very beneficial to get readers back to your blog again and again.
If your goal is more of an author website, try this:
You might include upcoming books, current projects, a mini bio, or upcoming event.
Include any pen names you might use
Keywords can also be useful here
Your longer bio can have anything you want, really. Include hobbies, likes/dislikes, education, awards, etc. People do want to get to know you here so don’t be afraid to make it personable.
Links to your published works and have pages for your upcoming books. Every book should have its own page.
Try to pick a theme (writing tips, book reviews, etc.), but don’t be afraid to mix it up once in a while with a personal story or promotion piece.
Again, you can adjust as necessary. You’ll also want to add your social media accounts and an email list. I know you might think an email list is outdated (do people actually read those emails?). But studies continue to show that an email list gets your information out there and in front of your readers. Even if only select people actually open the email. I guess it can’t hurt to have it. You can start with the email sign-up widget provided by your platform, but you may want to consider upgrading to a paid service eventually.
Other pages you might consider for either version could be:
Author Media Kit
Disclaimer (depending on what it is you do)
Your website will morph over time. Be patient with yourself. Web design takes some time to get. That’s why there are people who do this for a living. I’ve revamped by blogs multiple times. I continue to learn as I go and so apply what I learn as I go.
Another aspect of a website is photography. Where can you get those awesome professional looking photos for your blog posts and header photos? Check out Unsplash. They have stock photos available for use by anyone, royalty free. No purchase required. Shutterstock is also a great place to find photos but requires payment.
I’ve realized that I can do all the research I want about building a website, but until I actually try it I don’t really get it. All that stuff I researched before starting, like you might be doing now, is only now starting to click. And I’ve been at this for about five months at the time of this initial post. If you can pick it up more quickly, good on you. If it takes you a bit longer, don’t sweat it. You will get this. The key is to not give up!