If you go to ten different editing Web sites, you are likely to get ten slightly different definitions of the different types of book editing. Although the general definitions are the same, each editor has different comfort levels with different types of editing, and each editor draws the dividing lines between them at slightly different places.
At Speculations Editing Services, I offer several types of editing. The terms that I use are particular to me and my style of editing. I edit short stories, novellas, novels, and even partial manuscripts. I will be happy to look at your work whether you intend to self-publish as an indie author or submit your manuscript for publication through an agent or publishing company.
A manuscript evaluation includes one or two read-throughs of your manuscript. I will then provide you with a short (5- to 10-page) editorial letter that covers the whole picture of the novel and what is working and what might be hampering the story. This is a big-picture evaluation on a basic level.
Developmental editing is also about the big picture, but during this process, I will evaluate each element of your story in detail. I will read through the manuscript at least twice, once to get an overall feel for the tone, theme, and flow of the story and as many times thereafter as it takes me to develop a comprehensive (10- to 20-page) editorial letter for you.
My editorial letter will cover aspects such as theme, audience, structure, plot, characterization, point of view, setting, and tone. I will point out the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript and give you ideas for eliminating the weaknesses and making the most of the strengths. I will give you a detailed analysis and guide so that you can work with your manuscript to make it stronger, more engaging, and more entertaining. I will help you make sure that your goals for your manuscript (whether complete or partial) align with what you have written on the page.
Because I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the English language (as any editor well should be), any copyedit that I provide is a deep copyedit of the manuscript. Using Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature, I will edit your manuscript from the top down and will address issues related to overall consistency (“Are his eyes blue or brown?”), style, flow, sentence structure, consistency in point of view and characterization, and so on by making actual changes to the manuscript or querying you for more information when an immediate solution is not clear. I will also check and make changes to your manuscript to address issues such as grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and correct word choice (e.g., there vs. their). You will have a chance to review all of the changes, and then I will do a final pass of the manuscript to catch any stray issues or new errors that were introduced by either one of us as changes were made.
Proofreading is the very last stage of editing before a work is published. Proofreading is not “light copyediting.” Proofreading happens after the manuscript has been fully copyedited and formatted for publishing. This is the final once-over that is done to ensure that minor errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language (such as consistencies in the use of British versus American English) do not slip by.
Disclaimer: Before any editing occurs, I will generally ask to see a sample of your manuscript to evaluate the type of editing that I would recommend for your work (please see my Rates and Processes page for more information). In the end, the choice is yours as to which level of editing (if any) that you choose. I may recommend a developmental edit, but you may choose a copyedit instead. Please understand that I will only do the work that has been requested at the appropriate rate. Copyediting will not improve your story’s structure, and developmental editing will not fix the grammar and spelling mistakes in your manuscript. Ultimately, you are responsible for the content of your work and its “life” after editing.