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What Type of Editor Do You Need for Your Book Project?

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You are in the midst of writing your book. You have gotten into the process, utilizing all your enthusiasm, will power, organization skills, and chutzpah to plow ahead, envisioning a book with your name on it.

Maybe you11717359_s‘ve written 10, 50 or even 200 pages.  You’re more or less proud of your effort so far, but you know that what you think is good versus what is publishable are two different things.  You begin to wonder: “Maybe I should get an editor involved in helping me.”  The question is: what type of editor do I need to get my manuscript to the finish line?  You know you want to hire someone who is a professional in the field, a person whose years of know-how and expertise will transform your words into a high quality book that will dazzle your readers and build your professional reputation. This article is to help you understand the different types of editors and what role they can play in helping you.

Developmental Editors (DE)

As the name suggests, a developmental editor’s skill is helping you develop or improve your “intellectual property” (IP) when your ideas are all over the place.  There are two main instances when you want to hire a developmental editor:

1. If you are starting out and believe you have a great idea for a book, but don’t know how to turn your idea into the actual chapters, hire a DE. This type of editor, if highly experienced, has the expertise to help you figure out the flow and what chapter organization makes the most amount of sense for your book, given your market. The DE can talk with you about your ideas and select a meaningful “paradigm” for your book’s organization. The DE can then help you figure out the specific arrangement of your chapters as well as help you outline your book.

2.  A DE is also useful when you have written and rewritten your chapters many times and feel that you have just not found the right organization for your book. You may have reams of pages but  you know that your writing gets off the trail here and there, or you find yourself repeating ideas or “forward-referencing” a lot  (e.g., “I’ll tell you more about that in Chapter 5.”)

In both cases, hiring a DE will help you map out the purpose of your writing and help you craft your chapters to suit your topic and your audience in the best way possible. An experienced DE will help you ask yourself the hard questions about your content—what is your ultimate message? Is it meaningful? Have you proved your thesis? Do you have enough content to make a book? A professional DE is often compared to being a “book doctor” or “book coach” in showing you how to transform your content expertise and natural writing talent into a publishable book.

The Line  (Rewrite) Editor (LE)

A line editor is a professional language person who can help you strengthen the power of your words. This type of editing is all about your writing— the paragraphing, the use of headings, the actual language you use. A LE moves through your manuscript, reading line by line and rewriting as needed to spin your words into gold.  Think Rumpelstiltskin. Some line editors almost become like ghost writers for you if they rewrite a lot of manuscript to strengthen it and make it sing, so that it is better than your originally written content.

Consider hiring a line or rewrite editor if you feel that your book is well-organized but it needs a lot of rewriting and fixing up to make the ideas come across with greater power and clarity.

The Copy Editor (CE)

This is the editor you need when you are in the final stage of completing your manuscript and you believe it is well organized and well written. A CE takes the ball (the manuscript) to the goal line for you, making sure your grammar, punctuation, and stylistics are spot on.  A high quality book must be free from typos, missing words, punctuation mistakes, misused words, and grammatical errors—and you need to do this done before your manuscript goes into production. Copyeditors may do some line editing as well, but in general, their job is not to rewrite the manuscript but simply to clean it up.  A good copyeditor will help you get rid of excess verbiage and wordy sentences that bog down readers.  They specialize in making sure your formatting is consistent, your chapter titles and headings are strong, and that your manuscript has all the components needed for final page layout and publishing. An attentive copyeditor should also read your manuscript for sense and may therefore ask you some questions about content they do not understand. He or she may also do fact checking if you ask them to confirm your facts. Overall, this type of editor is all about the professional polish you want to put on your book that will land into the hands of your potential clients or customers.

Do You Need All 3 Types of Editors?

Each one of these editorial roles is vital and useful. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which types of editor will serve you best. It’s good to get a development editor involved if you are just starting out in your first book and are feeling confused and in need of support and some expert hand holding to craft that book you have always wanted with your name on it.  If you are confident about your organization, and you believe you can write a good “rough” draft, you may want to hire a line editor or rewrite editor to improve your manuscript.

A good thing to do is to write one chapter and hire a rewrite editor at that time so you can learn from him or her as you work together. While this editor rewrites your material, you can see how they can improve it and your own writing of the rough drafts of following chapters can improve.

Many people believe they can skip using a copyeditor, but you will be amazed at the difference between a manuscript that has been through a professional copyedit versus one that has not.


Publish to Get Clients can help you with all three types of editing. We are highly experienced in developmental editing and working with authors at the very beginning of their projects and with authors who are uncertain if their chapter organization is working. We also have worked with many authors as rewrite / line editors and we have a team of highly experienced, super-talented copyeditors.  Contact us at any time with your questions.

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One Response so far.

  1. Wendy Basey says:

    These are excellent descriptions.

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