.st0{fill:#FFFFFF;}

E2A 011: Demystifying Different Types of Editing 

 July 27, 2021

By  Scott A. MacMillan

Your manuscript is written, and now a second pair of eyes is vital. Especially when those eyes are looking through the lens of a professional editor.

Even the best-of-the-best work with editors to take their writing up a notch and get their work ready for publication.

Professional editing isn’t a nice-to-have…it is a must for ensuring your book builds your authority, rather than tearing it down.

In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host Scott MacMillan looks at the 5 types of editing that will take the manuscript to the next level and prepare you to publish the best book possible.

Episode Links

Editing types

Entrepreneur to Author™ Select

Episode Transcript

Scott A. MacMillan:      

You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, episode number 11

Mike Manz:                 

Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now here's your host, Scott MacMillan.

Scott A. MacMillan:      

Well, what do you think? That manuscript of yours is that much better after yourself edit, isn't it? I know it wasn't easy. Nothing worthwhile is. In fact, you may have found it really, really hard. You had to put your ego aside and get small on details. You had to be honest with yourself, brutally honest. And what about the feedback you got from beta readers? That was an exercise, wasn't it? You put yourself and your work out there. You thought your manuscript was pretty solid, but self-editing and input from beta readers exposed some cracks. In fact, more than a few cracks. And that's entirely normal. Honesty is hard, but boy, was it helpful. All that honest input really hit home. You had to listen, process it, take it in. And sure, not all that input may apply, but most of it sure did. Okay. Much of the sloppiness that crept into the original draft has now been cleaned up.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

It's a pretty tidy document, pretty slick, well tidier, and slicker. But we're not done yet, are we? Now it's time for the professionals to step in. A professional editor is the next stop on our authorship journey. Professional editors have seen the movie or in this case, have read the manuscript, many, many, many manuscripts. There are a few different kinds of editing that a professional will use to improve your manuscript. Many tools in the editor's toolbox. Rest assured all of them combined will result in a much better end product. But all those different editing types, they can get confusing, but I'll demystify all of it for you right here. I'm Scott MacMillan and welcome to this edition of Entrepreneur to Author.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Yes, this episode is about editing, professional editing, but before we go any further, fast forward a bit and consider this. Before your book can be designed and published, you need a locked manuscript period. That's a manuscript that is 100% finished. One that will not change. And a professional editor will help deliver that locked manuscript. And there are a few steps needed to get us there. Okay. So the types of professional editing we're going to talk about in this episode are all designed to turn your manuscript from its current state into a published ready, locked manuscript. Also, we'll discuss how a pro will retain your ideas and authentic voice while taking the document up to the next level. So let's dive in.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Now, first things first, there are five different types of editing. Well, there are actually quite a few more, but for our purposes, we're going to focus on these five, developmental editing, structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Let's start with developmental editing. This type of editing really focuses on the big picture, much like your 50,000 foot self-edit, it ensures that your structure and content support your goals, but also your ideal reader and the journey that you want to take them on.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

The editor's job in this situation is a bit like that of a coach. Most of us have had a coach of some kind. It might've been in the classroom, or playing field, or hockey rink. Coaches, good coaches make a huge difference in learning. And a good editor can have that same kind of influence. In developmental editing, changes aren't made directly to your manuscript, but rather in broad commentary and editorial notes. And there will be plenty of that shared. Feedback on content structure, overall flow, and usually a recommended outline, which may differ from what you had going in. This feedback from the editor is invaluable for evolving your manuscript, but with developmental edits, it's the author who's expected to make all the changes. Depending on the length of the manuscript, this type of edit normally takes a week or two. You'll then have to budget your own time to review and act on the recommendations that your editor has made. That is developmental editing.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Next up, we have structural editing. In terms of purpose, the structural edit is very similar to the developmental edit. It too looks at the overall structure of your manuscript and its content. But in a structural edit this time, the editor will make most of the changes directly to the manuscript rather than pitching it back to the author. The goal here is to make your book as effective as possible for your readers, and for you, and for your business. The structural edit is also usually the best place to start for those of you writing a book for the first time. Now it's important to remember the editor has the reader in mind. With that mandate, the editor will take the manuscript apart and then reassemble it to make sure that it delivers what the reader needs in light of your stated goals.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Now, one word of warning. In a structural edit your word count will almost certainly drop. Now, why is that? Well it's because the editor will be looking for redundancy, repetition, unnecessary tangents, and digressions, but don't worry about all those lost words, it's part of the editing process and the manuscript will be much better for it. The content that's taken out will be replaced by new and improved material that your editor feels is needed instead, which brings up the one area where your editor is not likely to make the changes for you. That's new content. The editor isn't the writer after all, that's your job, but you can bet that your editor will provide you with detailed recommendations on what to add, the points to hit on, and so on. You can expect a full structural edit to take about three to four weeks, again, depending on the manuscript length. And you'll then have roughly another four weeks or so to review the edits and add any new recommended content.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Next up is stylistic editing. Now terminology gets a little bit confusing here. This is sometimes called a line edit, especially in North America, in some regions it's called a copy edit, which is particularly confusing because that term means something else in other regions. And we're going to get to that. But anyway, don't get caught up on terms. What's important here is what's addressed in this edit. It's similar to your 10,000 foot self-edit that we covered in episode 10. While the structural edit looks at your book as a whole, a stylistic edit, we'll look at individual paragraphs and sentences to maintain consistent tone and voice. And of course the language you use must be appropriate given your intended reader. In a stylistic edit, your editor may also ensure that your voice is authentic and consistent throughout. They're also going to keep a careful eye out for readability issues to make sure that everything flows as best it can. So sentences and paragraphs are going to be reworked for clarity.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Now experienced writers sometimes jump directly to a stylistic edit. However, an editor can tell you if your manuscript is ready to forgo the structural edit, but frankly, that's rarely the case. A stylistic edit doesn't take as long as the previous two approaches, especially if you're working with the same editor, usually a week or two. After which, you'll have another week to review the changes and make any final tweaks, which should be pretty minimal at this stage. Okay. So we've covered developmental editing, structural editing, and stylistic editing. The next one is copy editing. This is what most people equate to proofreading. The goal of a copy edit is to ensure your writing is consistent, accurate, and correct, especially as it relates to the mechanics of writing. Your editor will certainly correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

They'll apply a consistent grammar rule if more than one approach may be technically correct. Your editor may correct attribution of sources and formatting of citations though this often depends on the editor and the nature of the book. At this point, a copy edit will not usually look at the overall readability or writing quality. It's very much a different mindset that the editor needs to get into. And that's why having a structural edit and a stylistic edit first is so important. Depending on the length of the manuscript, a copy edit will take a week or two to complete. At this stage, if you're working with a publisher, the manuscript will normally go to the designer for layout at the same time that it comes back to you. That's because there should be no more content changes from here on other than factual errors, typos, and the like, which we'll hope to catch in the final stage of editing. And that is proofreading.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

As I said, when most people say proofread, what they really mean is a copy edit, but the fact is a pure proofread is a much more technical review that takes place after your book has been laid out and type set by your designer. It's considered the final review before going to print. The real purpose of a proofread is to catch any final typos and to give the print ready file one last look before sending it to print. A proofread is literally the last line of defense. It's not a substitute for a copy edit. Now a quick sidebar about typos. It's nice to think that after all of this, there could never be any typos remaining.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Now, unfortunately, you're still going to find typos even in big name titles by big name authors. Now, how could that be? Well, consider this. Take a 50,000 word manuscript. Even if it's 99.99% error free, that still leaves five typos. So what do you do? Well, you catch as many as you can. You accept that some may remain and then you fix them when they're found. Okay. That being said, there really should be very few remaining technical issues to catch at this point. And a final proofread normally takes a week to complete. After which, the book is considered ready for publication. So there you have it. Those are the five types of editing, developmental, structural, stylistic, copy editing, and proofreading.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Now the question is, which type of editing do you need? Well, let's start with this. Unless you're a very experienced writer, your manuscript should get a structural edit, a stylistic edit, and a copy edit before it's sent to the layout designer. After the layout is complete, then you may also want to have a final proofread before printing and distribution. Keep in mind different publishers approach the process of editing differently. Some expect your manuscript to be print ready from the get-go. Others will do a final proofread for you. Maybe even a copy edit. Others may check off all the boxes and cover all the necessary editing types.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

When you're working with an editor, make sure you understand the details of the services being provided and the process that your manuscript will undergo. That way, you know what level of service you're getting for the money that you're spending. If you're a first time author, working with an experienced editor can be intimidating. So having a little context about editing types and having done some self editing yourself, that's going to help you know, what to expect, but nevertheless, it still is a new experience. So I want to share five handy tips for working with a professional editor. The first, is choose the right editor. Here are a few things to think about when shopping for a good editor. Look for someone who has experienced editing the kind of book that you're writing. For example, if you're writing a, how to book, it's wise to choose an editor who's familiar with that type of the book. Ask for qualifications, professional designation in writing, editing, English or something like that certainly does help.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

References are also a good thing to ask for. The editor or the publisher that they work for may have testimonials that they can share. Don't be afraid to ask for those. You might also ask for samples of their work. It's a very effective way to understand the before and after of a manuscript. Okay. So choosing the right editor is important. Now the second tip, communicate your goals. Editors are good, but they're not mind readers. So be clear, share your strategy with your editor. Otherwise, your editor can only focus on delivering editorial quality. Another tip to remember when working with a professional editor is understand their process. Knowing the steps that the editor will take will give you a better understanding, but it will also let the editor see that you are vested in it from start to finish. Ask the editor, what they expect from you in terms of effort and deadlines.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

Now the fourth tip is do the work. This is a collaborative effort. Yes, the editor edits, but you're still on the hook for some of the hard work too. For example, when the editor sends your manuscript back to you with track edits and questions, you're expected to go through those and answer any questions that may have been asked. You could accept or reject the changes the editor has made. Make sure you answer any questions the editor is asked and also write any additional content that your editor suggests. After all, they're editing your manuscript to make the book better. It's also wise to track your own changes and add comments of your own. Clarity and transparency are crucial in this process.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

And my last tip is trust the experts. You're going to have to leave your ego at the door to some degree. You're going to have to accept some critical feedback. And it may not sit well at first, but remember, your editor is an editor. They're not hired to coddle you. Sure, constructive criticism is good and it should be delivered with tact, but you have to be willing and able to understand that again, the editor's job is to make your manuscript better, to make it resonate with your readers, and to prepare it for that next big step, publication.

Scott A. MacMillan:   

When you're ready to move your manuscript into professional editing, remember this, even the best of the best rely on professional editors to take their book across the finish line. Of course, they do. Regardless of the genre, the best authors would never, ever consider publishing a manuscript without the careful and considered attention that an editor provides. For those of us who are entrepreneurs and not writers by trade, professional editing is all the more crucial. It's necessary to help deliver credibility, developmental editing, structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, proofreading. Professional editing is critical. If done back to back, keep in mind a professionally edited manuscript will take about 10 weeks from the time you submit it until the time it's ready to go to the designer for layout. That includes your time to review and make revisions. The bottom line is this. A critical eye and professional editing polish will make your book shine. And will benefit those who invest the money to buy it and the time to read it. Now is the time, time to write, time to publish, and time to grow. I'm Scott MacMillan. Until next time.

Scott A. MacMillan


Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

Scott A. MacMillan Signature

related posts:

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get in touch