Thoughts about editing

The decision to publish my book has brought with it the realisation that it will need editing. The problem is, now I’ve read up about it, it doesn’t seem as straightforward as I thought.

Working with an editor wasn’t something I had initially planned (or thought of if I’m being honest), and when I did, the cost was something that immediately hit me. However, I’m the sort of person that likes to do things properly and so I decided it would be money well spent.

One of my biggest concerns is where do you start? There seem to be many different names and job descriptions for editors, and I’m now wondering if I’ll need more than one? The main descriptions I have come across are:

Developmental editors: People who take a big picture view and look at structure, plot development and flaws, character development, continuity etc. My dilemma at the moment is whether I need one of these. My story (although containing a lot of fiction) is essentially based on a true story and so in terms of timeline and plot, it wrote itself. Having said that, I’m sure there will be loose ends tie up, continuity errors, or characters to round out and so maybe it could be useful? If I do go down this route, when do you involve them? I’ve now done a second draft of Book 1 and most of Book 2, and so is it too late?

Line editors (or substantive editors): Apparently they also review the manuscript as a whole, although in less detail. I imagine you just get an overview critique of your work with this form of editing, but if anyone knows better, please let me know. If my assumptions are right, maybe I should go with this option rather than the developmental editor?

Copy editors: I think this is the sort of editing I initially had in mind. Someone to make the novel readable, correct the grammar and style, and generally make it feel more professional. If I went with a copy editor would supplementing them with a line editor be enough?

Proofreaders: I had originally thought I would proof read the manuscript myself, as I have a good eye for detail when it comes to spelling and formatting. I’m now wondering if I need help, however, as I am less good at placement of things like commas, semi-colons and the dreaded apostrophe. I’ve read that some copy editors also double as proofreaders, and so perhaps that’s the way to go?

I’d be interested you hear your thoughts. What’s the minimum you think is necessary to do a good job, or do you think that going with the minimum would be doing a disservice to the book?

If you want to know more about the Ambition & Destiny Trilogy, visit my website here.


About Val McBeath

Born and raised in Liverpool (UK), I live in Cheshire with husband, youngest daughter, and cat. In addition to family history, interests include rock music and Liverpool Football Club. Prior to writing, I trained as a scientist and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years. In 2012, I set up my own consultancy business and now split my time between business and writing.
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