No matter if it’s your first or fiftieth manuscript, books require comprehensive editing before publishing for everything from plot flow to precision grammar. (Comma, or no comma? That’s always the question). To end up with a quality edited manuscript, it’s important to avoid taking shortcuts. And using a line editing service is a key step in transforming your manuscript from a style sheet to a paperback.
Although line editing can overlap with copyediting and developmental editing, it truly is its own science. Providing many benefits, line editing helps the entire editing process—and your entire manuscript—flow together. Keep reading to learn how line editing services can enhance your manuscript, line by line.
In the world of book writing, several types of editing services can help writers chisel a manuscript into a masterpiece. Getting a line edit for your manuscript can significantly help express ideas and keep your writing style consistent. Because line editors analyze the language in your manuscript sentence by sentence, line editing services are naturally thorough.
However, before firing a manuscript off for editing, it’s important to know what to expect so you get the most of out of the experience.
Line editing is a specialized form of editing that looks at what words and sentences really mean and how your manuscript uses them. Often, line editing services examine sentence structure, syntax, and tone to maintain the style and flow throughout the manuscript. Professional editing companies, like Elite Authors, typically offer line edits for a per-word fee. This stage of editing prepares a manuscript for the later publishing stages, like copyediting and proofreading.
Like engineers who design cars versus engineers who fix them, the different types of editors have different yet equally important jobs. And you want to hire the right person for the task. For example, developmental editors take a broad and imaginative approach to creating a story. Copyeditors, on the other hand, zero-in on grammar and spelling. In between the two, line editors manage to take a broad yet detailed approach at the same time, fulfilling a unique role in the process.
A line editor focuses on the structural details, inch by inch, while simultaneously maintaining the pace and style throughout the entire story. These subtleties can be difficult for writers to pinpoint. After all, they have the bigger picture to consider when publishing a manuscript. With help from a professional line editor, however, your protagonist’s southern accent is sure to keep its twang until the very end.
As the name implies, a line editor really does examine each line of a manuscript. Line editors check how each sentence uses language and how it relates within the paragraph.
Line editing, though very much concerned with overall style, does not focus on the wider elements of storytelling. That’s for developmental editing. Rather, a line editor combs through the words, sentences, and paragraphs on each page and revises as necessary to uphold their structure, meaning, tone, and style. As line editors go, they’ll be on the lookout for mistakes and inconsistencies. While they may also correct grammar, this is not the focal point of their work.
Line editing typically occurs in the middle of the entire manuscript editing process. Imagine editing as an ice cream cake. First, you have developmental editing: the cookie layer that creates a solid foundation for the cake. Next is line editing: the rich layer of ice cream. Finally, copyediting and proofreading are the toppings and the “Happy Birthday” written in icing.
But, in practice, how is line editing different from other forms of editing? What sets it apart? This section explores the answers to those questions and helps you prepare for a line edit.
While a line edit may revise an obvious grammatical error here and there, that is not the focus of the work. A copyedit will take care of that job later.
Copyediting keeps law and order in a manuscript. For example, it ensures that each word uses the right spelling and each sentence uses correct grammar. Plus, it makes sure the entire manuscript adheres to the publisher’s style guidelines. Copyeditors pursue perfection so that proofreading, the final step in the editing process, can be swift.
Conversely, a line editor’s role is more in depth, so it should occur before copyediting. In line editing, an editor works to uphold the tone, style, and meaning throughout the manuscript. Line editors are most concerned with how your sentences flow together. And they’ll make sure your words and sentences effectively communicate your meaning and match your (or your characters’) way with words.
Both line editing and developmental editing cover aspects of writing development, but in different ways. Developmental editing, also called substantive or content editing, helps writers create their narrative. A content editor pitches ideas for plot and character development that focus on the big picture.
Once a writer nails these details down, a line editor can get to work. Focusing on the subtleties of syntax and flow, line editors perform a comprehensive review and provide quality control. They make sure your writing stays true to the overall motif and style, and they sharpen any edges where this is not clear. This can lead to multiple editing rounds.
When hiring a line editor, one of the most important things to consider is timing. How far along in developing and writing your manuscript are you? Because editing is a linear process, a manuscript receives the best results when it follows this process. If possible, complete all developmental editing before you continue on to the next phase.
To prepare for a line edit, a manuscript needs to be complete with a clear story line. Performing a line edit is like deep cleaning a newly constructed home. There’s not much point cleaning every inch of it if you haven’t even put up drywall yet! Similarly, line editing is not as useful if a manuscript has incomplete chapters or if you anticipate making any major plot changes.
While this article has introduced and explained what line editing is, you might still have some concerns about how the service operates. As a multistep, back-and-forth process, editing can be confusing to navigate, especially for new writers. To help clear up any doubts, below are answers to some commonly asked questions about line editing services.
You can expect a line editor to question the syntax and diction of your work. This may seem frustrating; however, it is their job to check the cohesion and flow of your manuscript. Through diligent analysis, a line editor makes suggestions to improve the content of your manuscript based upon your objectives. Therefore, you can expect to rework parts of your manuscript, usually though minor alterations.
But if you feel you need help growing your manuscript, developmental editing should be your first step.
During your initial meeting with your line editor, you need to “get on the same page,” so to speak. Be sure they understand your desired tone and the voice of your narrator and characters. For example, if your manuscript is a period piece, you may want discuss sixteenth-century English diction with your editor. You should also extensively discuss your vision for your characters, themes, and story line so that the line editor can make revisions that support these.
The writer-editor relationship, like many relationships, is built on communication and understanding, so it’s important to thoroughly discuss all thematic components.
Depending on the provider, line editing services typically charge by the hour or by the word. Like a mechanic charging labor fees, uncertainty is always the issue with hourly fees. Elite Authors uses per-word line editing rates, so there is transparency in how much you can expect to pay for an edit.
Because line editing services are more intensive, professional editing companies generally price line editing at a higher rate than copyediting. By the same logic, editing companies generally price developmental editing higher than line editing. These are standard industry practices.
If you have just written your last sentence or need help reworking a section of your manuscript, it might be time to find a book editor. Like tools in the box, editors have a variety of specializations and skill levels. So finding an editor who complements your manuscript can be a daunting and time-consuming task. However, it doesn’t have to be.
This section covers the main things you need to know to find and hire an editor, no matter what type of editing you need. Find out what characteristics make an editor stand out, and learn a few tips to make your book editor search a cinch!
Thanks to the massive portal of the internet, there are many routes to finding available book editors. By doing an independent research, reading reviews, and studying editing companies’ websites, you can gain an impression about the type of person or company you would like to work with. Performing a basic Google search is a good start to seeing what is out there.
During your investigation, consider whether to use a freelance editor or an editing services company. Both are suitable; however, one might be more beneficial to your specific situation. For example, Elite Authors employs a fleet of top-line editors capable of performing everything from developmental editing to proofreading, so you don’t have to worry about finding a new editor every step of the way. If your manuscript requires multiple types of editing, this is a convenient and reliable way to prepare your book for publication.
Another great lead to finding a book editor is through your friends and connections. Oftentimes, getting feedback and suggestions from those you know in the field can lead to a positive connection with an editor. Plus, this is a great way to network for future writing projects.
The first step in hiring a book editor is to make direct contact with a potential editor. Briefly discuss the basics of your manuscript. Then, if you are interested in hiring them, ask to see a short sample of their work. This is a normal request to make, and it can help you feel more assured that your money is well spent. After all, quality editing does not come cheaply.
Getting price quotes from a few different editing services or freelancers is also a great way to make sure you’ve found the best fit for you and your budget. Once you make a decision, be sure you understand all the terms and conditions based upon the price. The last thing a writer wants is a red-marked manuscript with no end in sight and mounting editing fees. To avoid this stress, both editor and writer should understand the expected amount of work before agreeing to collaborate.
To begin, you want to hire the right editor for what your project requires—do you need a line editor or a copyeditor? Narrowing the field in this way can really help tune the edit to your manuscript. If your budget and deadline allow, look for an editor with experience or specialization editing your type of manuscript. For example, if you’ve written a murder mystery tale, an editor with a true-crime portfolio may be a better fit than a romance novel editor.
Just as books are diverse, so are people. In an ideal world, you’ll get to work with someone in your genre. But more importantly, a book editor should be someone you feel you can effectively collaborate with. After all, challenges are prone to exist in any creative endeavor. Plus, finding an editor you click with can spark further creativity.
Most importantly, and as with any purchase, you want to look for quality. Look for an editor that demonstrates a solid work portfolio and the professionalism to work within deadlines. By hiring someone with a proven history of success, you set yourself up for future success too.
Now, it’s time to reflect. Consider your manuscript and what it needs. Would it benefit from a line edit or a developmental edit? Or is it ready for a copyeditor’s eagle eyes? If you are unsure, that’s OK too. Elite Authors provides personalized assistance to get you prepped and on the road to publication. Start your journey today with a free quote—all you need to do is supply the details.