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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Guest Post: The 3 Steps Of Editing, Heidi Angell - WriterlyWednesdays 16

Please join me today in welcoming Heidi Angell to my blog. She has many talents from author to editor and today she is sharing her insight into editing.

The 3 Steps of Editing
From Rough Diamond to Jewel
by Heidi Angell

Our lovely host Tasha asked me to write about editing. She specifically asked about the difference between copyediting and proof reading. I decided to cover the three steps of editing that every editor should be offering because going across the internet I found that it must be very confusing for a writer. There are so many terms to describe “editing services”. Why are there all these terms, and what are you really getting? (Sometimes the “editors” don’t know either, which is where it gets really scary!)

When professional editors break these down, they are doing it to charge extra. Each of these are necessary steps in editing, and a good editor will include all of it into a price quote. (That is what I do.) But it is very important that you clarify that, because you may find your work is not being properly polished if you do not. Then you end up spending a small fortune, not to mention risking your reputation, if you don’t know better!

Let’s start at the beginning of the editing process to keep everything straight.

The first step is general editing (Also called content editing, revisions, story editing, substantive editing, re-writes, etc.). This is where the editor goes through the story and fact checks, catches plot holes, recommends what needs to be cut, re-written, added, etc. A lot of authors work in peer groups and get this done for free there, but a good editor will still check this as they are going through. Let’s use the analogy of your book being a diamond in the rough: This is where you are carving that diamond out of the bedrock surrounding it.
After the editor sends this draft and you do your cleaning up, then they go to the copyediting stage (also referred to as line edits, stylistic editing, second edits, or for lazy editors “editing”) This is where the editor will go line by line to make sure the sentence structure is correct, the grammar is correct and the meaning is clearly conveyed. They will recommend word changes, writing in active voice, or removing sentences that are repeating information already conveyed. 9 times out of 10, when you get an editor who says they “provide editing services” this is what they are referring to and unless you clarify you will get nothing more.  This would be clearing the last bits of bedrock away and cutting the diamond.
The last step is proof reading. There is a lot of difference in what this covers across the internet. The gyst is that proof reading is a last read through to catch typos. A lot of editors do this pre-layout, but IMHO (and in traditional publishing) it should be done after layout to catch any “missed bits”. The benefits to doing this after you complete layout is that the proof reader can look at the product as if they were the reader. They can catch not only misspellings, homonyms that spell check and sometimes your editor miss, and punctuation; they can also “double-check” layout, catching all the “writerly bits” as well as spotting funky layout on the page, widows and orphans, and the general appeal of the final product thereby making recommended fixes.

They can catch and polish up the final product to make sure that you are presenting the shiniest diamond out there. IF you do it pre-layout, it is like using a buffing cloth and then tossing your diamond in the bin to be set. Doing it post-layout is like buffing off the diamond after it has been set, getting all the last scratches and fingerprints right before you put it in the display case. A much shinier final diamond, right?
What are your editing questions? Let us know in the comments below, and I will be happy to answer.
About the Author

Heidi Angell is an author, editor, layout editor, book designer and jack of many trades. She is here to be the Angel on your Shoulder for all your writing needs.

Authors - win a month's stay in a castle for NaNoWriMo 2016 via Derek Murphy (book designer and author).

Click to Enter (Ends Dec 14th)

(occasionally you see a page not found, but wait a second and it will redirect you to the right place - I think sometimes the server is overloaded)


  1. This is really useful information, thanks. It's good to be able to translate tasks into terms. :)

  2. Tasha, thanks for having me. Sophi, you're welcome. Glad I could help!


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