Publishing companies offer all kinds of editing options, and it’s essential for authors to know what
each option means so that they know what to expect.
- Proofread: The editor looks for spelling mistakes, typos, and errors in grammar, type, and style. They also review the formatting of the manuscript, including running heads and feet (book title, author, chapter name and page numbers) subheadings, bibliography, resources, footnotes, and endnotes, as needed.
- Copy edit: In a copy edit, the editor focuses on the 5 Cs of writing: clear, correct, concise, complete and consistent. They perform minor rewrites, make corrections to usage, adjust awkward sentences and sentence fragments, and remove redundancies. Copy editing includes proofreading, but takes it a step further into a critical analysis of the topic, flow, organization, and consistency.
- Substantive edit: The editor adds or changes wording, sentences, and paragraphs in a way that substantially improves the work, to create a robust, must-read manuscript. The author is consulted before making significant corrections, such as massive restructuring, or anything that might change the meaning of the text. The editor works to make sure that the author’s voice remains intact. Substantive edits are followed by a proofread.
- Developmental edit: The editor helps the author develop ideas into a manuscript, or develop a manuscript that’s already written into a coherent, readable work. The editor and the author work together closely throughout the process with phone calls and emails, to ensure that the author’s voice and style remain throughout the book. Once the manuscript is complete, it’s followed by a copy edit and proofread.
- Rewrite: This can either be a complete rewrite of a manuscript or ghostwriting a new manuscript. Again, the editor and author work together very carefully, and the author must provide as much information as possible to the editor. The editor may obtain new material that they’ve researched or developed, or received from the author. A copy edit follows rewrites and must be proofread.
Publishing companies may suggest a type of edit for your manuscript or ask you to decide, but either way, you now have a better understanding of what each kind of edit means for your manuscript.