by Katie McCoach
The main focus of this contest is providing authors a chance to work with an editor to prepare the best possible version of their book for self-publishing. If you win, you’ll be working with an editor for several weeks on the content of the novel. And the grand-prize winner will receive copyediting!
Developmental editing, also often considered content editing, is editing that focuses on creating the best story possible. The editor will work with the author to strengthen the author’s big-picture story, as well as help them develop their craft of writing. This is the first stage of editing.
Editing of this nature usually involves things like critiques or manuscript evaluations to address big-picture items. It also often may be paired with substantive editing (also considered line editing).
These edits look at the writing style, voice, pacing and flow, characters, readability, intended audience, genre, narrative, plots and subplots, etc. These edits are designed to help an author tighten their manuscript. Does the protagonist grow or change from beginning to end? Are the characters’ actions believable? Does the plot feel forced or organic? Are the characters’ goals and motivations fully developed? Is there internal and external conflict? Is this actually a romance novel or is it women’s fiction?
This is also where writing mechanics such as backstory, Show Don’t Tell, POV, dialogue and more are addressed.
The next stage of editing is copyediting. Copyediting is the final stage of editing before a manuscript goes to typesetting. A copy editor provides one of three level of edits: light, medium, or heavy. During these edits, a copy editor looks at things such as grammar and word usage, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, numbers, clarity, missing words, basic fact checking, querying anything questionable, and more. They typically work with Chicago Manual of Style, which is the standard style of copy in the book publishing industry.
The final stage of editing is called proofreading. This is NOT copyediting; proofreading and copyediting are very different things. Proofreading involves one of two things: checking the final copyedited manuscript with the typed proof copy (the hard copy or electronic galley), or reviewing the final copy (without the edited copy to refer to). It used to be the former, but as the publishing industry has changed the latter happens more often. The role of a proofreader is to make sure no typographical errors remain or appeared when the work was typed as the final copy.
Copyediting is the last look at a manuscript before it’s sent to production. Proofreading is last look before the book is distributed.
Keep in mind with all levels of editing that the goal is to help you create the best product for publication. And, a good editor doesn’t try to change your writing voice. A good editor helps you enhance it.
Where do you find an editor?
You can find an editor through word of mouth, social media, and online marketplaces.
A great place to find editors, and many other book professionals at that, is Reedsy. Reedsy is an online marketplace of professional editors, designers and marketers, created to help authors reach their publishing dreams. Reedsy is also super selective about the professionals they add to their marketplace—they’ve only accepted the top 3% of applications—so you can feel confident that you are working with high-quality folks. (Side note: Reedsy has teamed up with ShoreIndie to host a webinar with tips for polishing your back cover copy and opening pages, this Saturday, May 20th at 12pm EST.)
Another good online marketplace to find editors is the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) site. Authors can use this site to search the directory and find an editor based on the services they offer, their specialties or genres, and to see editors’ resumes. Another way an author can use this site is to post a job ad. This is free for the author to post and it is sent as an email to all the members who’ve subscribed. Any interested editor is free to contact the job poster and submit a proposal for the job. Sometimes authors are overwhelmed by this because they may receive a hundred responses and could have trouble narrowing it down.
Searching blog posts/articles that include links of recommended editors, or posts by editors full of helpful tips. Google is actually quite useful, as well as social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. And of course, something like this wonderful contest!
And finally, of course one of the best ways to find editors is through word of mouth. Ask writers and authors, especially those you trust and admire, who they worked with. Even try asking some editors that you do find for names of other editors they recommend, especially if maybe you two aren’t the best match. The publishing world is smaller than you’d think, and many editors have gotten to know each other over the years. I have a solid base of well-recommended editors I refer potential clients to if the genre is outside of my wheelhouse, or I’m booked up too far in advance.
For a general guideline of editorial rates, refer to the chart on the EFA Rates page.
What should I do before hiring an editor?
Send them the BEST version of your work so far. Just because you are hiring someone to evaluate your manuscript or check for errors doesn’t mean you should send them your first draft. You should have gone through your manuscript content-wise first—work with a critique partner and/or beta readers—then after revisions, go through it with a fine-toothed comb and fix all the errors or strange wording that pops out at you. This not only helps you grow as a writer, but it also gives the editor a chance to focus on other, deeper parts of the book instead of spending valuable time fixing the obvious. Wouldn’t you like to get your money’s worth?
Get a sample edit. This is usually a sample edit on 500-1,000 words of your work. This benefits you and the editor because you get a chance to see how the editor works, determine if you two are in sync, and it gives the editor a chance to see what’s involved, estimate the amount of time the project will take, and provide a quote.
Discuss expectations. Be sure that you both agree on the work involved, and if you are unsure of anything or have questions ASK ahead of time. Adding something on later will cost the editor more time (which they may not have because of the way the booked their schedule) and it will cost you more money.
Do you have additional questions about the editing process, or how things will work in the ShoreIndie contest? Ask below!
is a developmental editor working with authors of all levels. Her motto
is, “Let’s create your best story!” Her specialties are romance, young
adult, new adult, sci-fi, fantasy, and memoir. She is an active member
of Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and Los
Angeles Romance Writers. She’s a featured editor for Revise & Resub
(#RevPit contest) and #ShoreIndie contest (2017). Katie was also a
participating editor in Pitch to Publication (2015, 2016), and has
judged the 2016 & 2015 Golden Hearts Awards and 2014 Stiletto
Contest. She is based in Los Angeles. Find her ShoreIndie Contest MSWL here.