Need an Editor? You Better Shop Around

Looking for an editor? Don’t hire the first one you meet. Shop around.

There is no one-size-fits-all editor. Hire a professional suited to your field/genre. When interviewing candidates, clearly communicate the required services. Editorial terms vary. However, a general breakdown follows.

Manuscript Review: Examines purpose, audience focus, content development, readability, style, tone, voice, need to rewrite, structure, cohesiveness, flow, and word choices. (In fiction, also examines hook, characterization, point of view, conflict, plot, setting, time frame, awkward passages, and detail.) A critique does not involve proofreading, copyediting, line editing, developmental editing, or rewriting. It is an overall review of the text so the writer can address major issues to shape the manuscript.

Developmental Editor: Addresses format, logic, structure, style, tone, voice, cohesiveness, clarity, flow, text to rewrite, information gaps, and unfocused copy.

Heavy Copyeditor: Performs basic copyediting. Addresses style, tone, voice, readability, logic, structure, cohesiveness, flow, consistency of content, elimination of ambiguity, triteness, wordiness, jargon, redundancy, appropriate word choices, context, and smooth transitions.

Basic Copyeditor: Addresses grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, mechanics, cross-references, and order.

Proofreader: Checks basic grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and mechanics. Cross-checks table of contents, tables, lists, and other matter.

Note: A manuscript review is a wise investment, especially if you’re a first-time author.  It’s a reality check on how much work your text requires before you turn it over to an editor.  Revise, revise, revise.

Question: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Question: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.
The Paris Review Interview, 1956

Credit: Tetra Pak


    1. Catherine Hamrick

      Isn’t that quote great? I could not resist it. Thanks for taking time to read. I am 6 weeks behind in all my reading (massive project). Hope to catch up with everybody in October. Hope all is well in your world. Take care.

  1. exiledprospero

    Rather than having brilliant minds focus on inventing, let’s say, a time machine ( a half useless invention, as we can all travel in time–it’s just that we do it moving forward), they should turn their attention to producing a self-editing word processor (nonsense in–brilliance out). Calling it the Hemingway would be nice.

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