By MJ Moores, OCT. Author. Editor.
Years ago, when I first started pursuing writing with the focus for getting published, I didn’t know there were different kinds of editors.
Now, my Creative Writing minor in University taught me the difference between the various types of editing: Content/Substantive, Line/Stylistic, Copy Editing, and Proofreading (no, the last two are not one-and-the-same, trust me). And those are important, key basics to grasp but …
The kind of editing I’m talking about is query-level manuscript editing vs. publishing house editing.
At the crux of the idea, they’re the same. Both types look at the key phases of editing I listed above; however, they do it in two very distinctive ways and for different purposes. As a freelance editor who has been through the traditional gamut with one novel, and currently works for a local small publisher, I have experienced and edited for both types, on both sides of the coin.
And trust me, they are different.
Here, you hire an editor to help you get your manuscript into shape for querying agents and publishers.
With a focus on manuscript formatting (as opposed to book formatting), it is the editor’s job to look at any one (or all) of the key forms of editing: Content/Line/Copy/Proof. You, the author, look at your budget and hire a reputable editor (after getting a free sample-edit completed on your first 10 pages or first chapter up to 3,000 words) who will make suggestions on how to improve your story.
Some freelance editors state upfront that they are brutal and refuse to “baby” authors with hand-holding and suggestive phrasing.
Some freelance editors are innate teachers who genuinely want to guide authors toward a better understanding of their chosen genre and the writers’ craft.
Some freelance editors are not what they seem. They might have a basic understanding of the elements above but have not mastered the idea of individual author styles, what agents and publishers are looking for, etc. They tend to follow the grammar rule book to the letter at the cost of the originality of the story and independent nature of each character.
Regardless, whichever kind of editor you choose (and your sample edits will help you find the one best suited to you), ultimately it is up to you – the author – to accept these suggested edits or not before submitting your final draft for query.