Which Service Do I Need?

There are many kinds of editing services you could get, here’s some information to help you figure out what you need most.

But first, let’s talk about the stages of editing a book often goes through after the first draft is written:

Editing Processes in Book Publishing

  1. Manuscript Evaluation or Developmental Edit: A manuscript evaluation is high-level report (3-5 pages) on the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. A developmental edit is also a high-level evaluation of a manuscript, but it supplies more detailed feedback. A developmental edit produces a detailed report (6-10 pages, often with chapter breakdowns) and also inline comments and suggestions throughout the manuscript itself. A manuscript evaluation is kind of a one-and-done thing, but a developmental edit tends to evolve into more of a relationship between author and editor. I provide a report similar to the one you get in a manuscript evaluation (but with more detail), but I also provide inline comments all throughout your manuscript, and suggest fixes if possible. I might do a DE, then the author (you) reworks the manuscript, gives it back to me for another review, etc. If you get a manuscript evaluation from me, and then want to proceed to a developmental edit, I’ll give you a discount on the DE service.
  2. Line/Substantive Edit: After any high-level structural or strategic issues are worked out, the book moves to the line editing stage, which focuses on writing at the paragraph and sentence level. The editor now evaluates how good the actual writing is, and whether it is communicating information clearly and effectively. I’ll ensure the content transitions smoothly between chapters, sections and paragraphs. I’ll find any “clunky” language and smooth it out. I’ll look for repetition of ideas or language. I might tighten rambling sentences.
  3. Copy Edit: This level of edit checks that your manuscript has no grammatical errors or typos and that it adheres to whichever style guide is relevant (for most publishing, it’s the Chicago Manual of Style). The term “copy edit” is somewhat subjective, and the depth of the edit can go from light (just fixing errors and ensuring CMOS compliance) to heavier copy edit (changing word choices, tightening sentences, some rewriting). NOTE: Anything heavier than a light copy edit becomes a “line edit” in my opinion.
  4. Proofreading: This is the last step in editing before publication. A proofreader will review book page galleys to make sure there aren’t any grammatical mistakes, typos, or formatting problems. A proofreader will NOT address any structural issues or writing mechanics issues. They are simply fixing errors. NOTE: Sometimes people sometimes ask for a “proofread” when they really need a copy edit.

How to Figure Out What Service You Need

Do any of these situations sound like you?

I’ve written an entire book, but I don’t know if it’s any good. 

You need someone to look it over and see whether it fulfills its objective, and what kind of editing it will need. So you can start with either a manuscript evaluation or a more detailed developmental edit.

I have a good idea for a book, and I want to write it, but I don’t know where to start!

Book a strategy call with me. I can talk you through your goals for a book and figure out whether even writing it would be a worthwhile project. If it is, you can hire me for book coaching, so we can move you on to creating an outline, and getting you writing!

I started writing my book, but I’m stuck. Help! 

Maybe you could use some book coaching. We’ll start with a state-of-the-book call, and then we can do as-needed calls, or you can buy a package of weekly calls to keep you moving and accountable. It’s surprising how just having an accountability partner can keep you motivated.

I have a good idea for a book, but I’m not a writer. I need someone else to write it. 

Ghostwriting is the answer for you! In the process I use, I interview you, get the calls transcribed, and then shape the material into a book. I love this model, because it captures your unique language directly = it will sound just like you!

I’ve written my whole book, and I’m happy with the structure/plot/theme, etc., but I want a fresh pair of eyes to look at it to tighten up language and find any writing mechanics issues I can’t see anymore.

Awesome! You can hire me to do some line editing/copy editing.

NOTE: Before I agree to do a line/copy edit, I’ll ask for a sample of your book (or ideally, the whole thing). If I see that it’s not ready for a line/copy edit due to bigger structural or other issues, I’ll let you know. For example, one potential client asked for a line edit of their children’s book, but once I reviewed it, I found that it was not written for the age group she was targeting.  

I’ve written a book, but I’m not a writer. I want to make sure it makes sense and reads smoothly.

Did you develop the book from an outline? Did you collaborate with someone with book positioning experience on it? If the answer is yes, you may only need a line edit.
If not, you can hire me to do a manuscript evaluation before proceeding with a line edit.

I have a bunch of blog posts and other content that I’ve written, but I’m not sure if I can make a book out of it.

You can book a strategy call with me to review your material. We can go through it and see if there’s enough to make a book. If not, I can give you help in filling in the holes (and deciding what we can leave out). When we’re satisfied, we can collaborate on structure and make an outline.

I’ve written my whole book, I’m sure that the structure is solid, and information is clear, but I want it prepared for publication, and I think I need it to match some style guide?

Mainstream book publishers expect a manuscript to adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style (also known as CMOS, now in 17th Edition). While a good editor will ensure a manuscript doesn’t have grammatical or spelling errors, a copy edit that ensures the manuscript follows the CMOS is another level. CMOS has rules for things like:

  • When numbers must be spelled out
  • What should be capitalized
  • Punctuation formatting
  • How media mentions must be formatted (e.g., book titles must be italicized)

NOTE: If you’re planning on pitching your manuscript to a major publisher, it doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% CMOS compliant. Any publisher that agrees to pay you to take on your manuscript will want to run it through their own editing department. That said, you should have put your manuscript through at least once round of line/copy editing so it looks polished.

OMG I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS BOOK FOR MONTHS AND I KNOW IT NEEDS HELP BUT I AM SO SICK OF LOOKING AT IT I’LL PAY ANYTHING TO HAVE SOMEONE ELSE GET IT TO A GOOD PLACE PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME!

Book doctoring is what you need (sometimes called “ghost editing” or rewriting).

You’ve been working on your book for months, maybe even years. You just can’t look at it anymore. Sometimes you’ve just had enough and want to get it off your plate. In the other types of editing, I make suggestions and then you, the author (or ghostwriter), do the work of fixing things, but with this type of service, you just give the manuscript to me, and after we have a chat about your goals for the book, I’ll review it and implement the fixes.

But before I do any doctoring, I will need to do a manuscript evaluation or developmental edit first, so I know what I’m dealing with. Your book might be better than you think!

Things I Can’t Help You With

  • Making your book a best seller. I will help you produce the best book possible, but making it a best seller involves factors beyond my control, like how fervently you market and promote it, and the whims of the market.
  • Finding you an agent
  • Querying agents
  • Telling you how to write a book for fiction genres. I can edit what you have and make it sound good, but I can’t tell you what the best anti-hero is for a fantasy genre book.