What Type of Editing do I Need?

Types of Editing

pencil-1979pxWhat Type of Editing Do I Need?

If you’re an author, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone along the way say something about getting an editor. You may have a sneaking suspicion that your work could probably use a little polishing. Are there paragraphs that just don’t feel right? Parts of the story line that feel rushed or too slow? Did you get a C in high-school English? Yes, you need an editor. Depending on your writing experience, you can use one or all four edits on your book, and those edits can be done by one person or four different people. Stephen King has an editor, you should too.

So, what are the different kinds of editing available and which do you need? Here’s a breakdown of editor services.

Developmental Editing

When you are stuck anywhere in a story, whether you are at the initial stages of creating an outline, or you are at the end of writing the rough draft, but the pieces aren’t lining up, you need a developmental edit. A developmental editor will review the whole story for you and tell you where there are holes in your plot, where your characters aren’t developed, where you’ve left story lines dangling with no conclusions. They will make suggestions on where and how to fix your story. In short, a developmental editor will help you develop your story.

Substantive Editing

When you are finished with your manuscript, you may consider a substantive edit. An editor will help you put your story into its final form. They may change points of view, look for inconsistencies in your character’s behavior, rearrange your paragraphs, and rework your dialog. You want your story and your characters to be believable. This is the outcome of a good substantive edit.


Once you’ve completed your “final” manuscript, you want to have an editor do a copyedit. A copy editor will read each sentence and fix grammar, punctuation, spelling, and voice. If you give them enough latitude, they will rework tangled sentences and paragraphs. They will also check your captions and footnotes for accuracy against your text. You may get the work back with ideas to improve or delete parts of your work. Your book should be close to finished after this step.


Proofreading is the final step in editing. When you a sure your work is finished, a proofreader will go over your manuscript one sentence, one word, one comma at a time and make sure it is all correct. If you have photos or charts, they will also review those. They will correct any errors overlooked in the copyedit. They will also check all elements of design, including headers, font styles, and page numbers.



Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

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