I often hear the words marketing, publicity, promotions, public relations, advertising, and sales all used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. It’s one thing if you’re simply speaking with a couple of friends, but if you’re working with people inside any of these industries, using the wrong word can spell big trouble and lots of confusion. It’s important to understand the nuances between word definitions. In a future post, I will define all the terms I just mentioned above, but for now, in this post, the magic word that can be very confusing if not used correctly is “editing.”
I hear the words, “My book is being edited,” all the time. I always have to ask follow up questions because there are different types of editors with very different jobs to do, so it requires further investigation to understand where the person really is in the process. And, by the way, if you’re looking for an editor, you will save a ton of time and money if you hire the right kind of editor for the right job, so here goes.
Basically, there are four different types of editing:
- Substantive (often used with fiction) or Developmental (non-fiction):
This is the type of editor who looks at the bones of your work: Is anything fractured or broken? In fiction they look at character development, do you have any holes in your plot, unclear character motivation, does it flow and make sense? Are there certain elements of the work that need to be moved to a different location?
2. Line editing: Many publishers have omitted this one, dividing the work between the substantive and copy editors instead. However, they are still around and their job is of style. Can this sentence be rephrased because it’s awkward as is? Is there too much jargon in this text? Is the writing too formal or informal for the target market?
3. Copy editing: When a friend asks another friend to look something over and edit it, usually they are asking for copy editing. Some call it proofreading, but it really isn’t as you’ll see below. Copy editing is about checking for typos, grammar, punctuation, and consistency.
4. Proofreading is looking at the book after it’s been laid out. After developmental and copy editing, the book goes to the typesetter or designer and the physical layout of the book is made. It is usually far from perfect. Sometimes there are pages with one word on them, or the space between headlines and text is off. Charts and graphs and other illustrations have to be checked they appear correctly. This is one of the final phases of the book process and is not where one would make substantial changes to the book.
So there you have it. It’s a brief explanation but I think it does the job. It’s important to understand the different types of editors there are so that you are sure you’re looking for the right person. Your work as an author is important. Make it really shine by hiring the right editor for the job.
To your success!
P.S. Editors work on more than books. If you’re writing website copy or a press kit for your business or other products, a great editor can make all the difference.
P.P.S. I think great editors walk on water. I have seen more than a few good manuscripts that were made into huge bestsellers because the editor got hold of it and worked their magic. Don’t underestimate the value of a fabulous editor.
Speaking of having great skills, have you taken the How Media Savvy Are You Assessment yet? Find out how skilled you are for media (and what areas could use some improvement.)
To your success!