What Are The Different Types of Book Editing?

    So you’ve written a book! Great job. Writing a book is an ambitious endeavor. However, finishing the first draft of your book is often just the beginning of the real work. The next step is book editing. The phrase “book editing,” however, does not just describe a single process. There are different types of book editing that your book will undergo. The different types depend on what part of the writing and editing process you are in. In addition, different types of books can require different types of editors. For example, it is unlikely that the same person can edit both Harry Potter and Taking Charge of Your Fertility. These books have different subject matters and will need different experts! Let’s look at the different types of book editing and editors so you can understand the editing process and what is expected of you as a writer in better detail.

    What Is the Book Editing Process?
    Before we go into detail about the different types of book editing and professional book editors, it is important we understand the book editing process first. A book begins with a writer, who creates the first draft. The book is then ready for the first round of editing, known as developmental editing. This stage will help refine and organize your ideas and writing. After developmental editing, your book will undergo substantive editing. Substantive editing includes suggestions to strengthen arguments or plots, reorganize some paragraphs or sections, ensure logical flow, content enhancement, and presentation to make the book easier to read overall. Once this is complete, it is time for copyediting, where the editor fixes any awkward phrasing, grammar and looks for typographical errors. A copyeditor may also fix the spellings and capitalization. Finally, right before publication, your book will undergo proofreading. This is the final step to locate any last errors, ensure consistency in your book, and make it flawless before it goes to print.

    You may notice that some of these steps seem to overlap or be similar. What is so different about copyediting and proofreading, for example, if both the copyeditor and proofreader check your grammar and spelling? The truth is there is some overlap between all of these steps, and sometimes even performed by the same person when you hire professional book editors. The best book editors will ensure that your final draft is smooth, flawless, and says exactly what you want to say. Let’s examine the finer details of the book editing process.

    First and Second Drafts: Developmental and Substantive Editing
    Once you finish your first draft, it is time for developmental editing. Developmental editing is where the editor “develops” your book. They offer feedback on major and important elements of your writing, including the structure, plot, setting, characters, timeline, and different story arcs. Academic book editing also involves this step, but it looks a bit different. Developmental academic book editing will focus on the bigger structure of your book. But it will also include research, fact-checking, suggested topics, and an analysis of your content as a whole. 

    There is an intermediate step between writing the first draft and developmental editing. This step is known as an editorial assessment. It is optional and can be used for both fiction and academic book writing. If you are working on your book and want some preliminary feedback, you can ask professional book editors for an editorial assessment. They will read what you have written so far and give suggestions on ways to construct your story or progress with your argument. Think of it as friendly general feedback and suggestions for where to go from there. 

    The next step of the book editing process, once developmental editing is complete, is substantive editing. After you, the writer, have incorporated the suggestions of the developmental edit, you present your second draft for substantive editing. In academic book editing, the substantive editor points out logical flaws, incomplete or incoherent arguments, sections that need more or less data, and some organizational changes if necessary. They will also do significant rewriting, wherever required, to add clarity. They may delete sentences and rearrange paragraphs. A substantive editor works hard to make sure your book is readable, flows smoothly, and makes sense. After the substantive editor is finished with book editing, it is time to move on to the second and final stages of book editing: copyediting and proofreading.

    Third and Fourth Drafts: Copyediting and Proofreading
    Copyediting, also known as line editing, is where your book begins to take its final form. A copyeditor or line editor will review each line of your book carefully for any grammatical, spelling, or typographical errors. Copyeditors often focus on “cleaning up” awkward phrasing or bad grammar. They try to make sure that the book reads well, all the words are used correctly, consistently, and that the format of the book is proper. The best book editors will have your book looking great after this step. All that will be left for you, the author, to do is make final corrections and confirm that the book is ready to go.

    Once copyediting is done, the book is ready to be proofread. Proofreading aims to carefully make sure that there are no spelling errors and the use of words is consistent. A good proofreader will notice if you wrote “copyediting” throughout the book but “copy editing” on page 25. After your book has been proofread, it is ready for publishing!

    How long is book editing? The process can take a long time- sometimes several years from beginning to end. But the best book editors can make sure there is a quick turnaround and that your book is ready for publication in as little as a year. It is important to understand the book editing process well so that you can keep your expectations realistic. This will also help you know what to ask for and expect from your editors at different stages of the process. When looking for great academic book editing or the best book editing services, fortunately, there are many great publication and editing services available online to help you make your dreams of being a published author come true.