Once your book has been written, revised, and (hopefully) edited by beta readers, it needs to be thoroughly reviewed by a professional editor before you can even think about publishing. You may be good at catching your own mistakes, and your beta readers may have a keen eye for plot holes or overall readability, but a professional editor is extensively trained in all these areas and more, and can apply their expertise to all aspects of your book, large and small.
Every editor’s process varies, but when performing a full substantive edit, many prefer to read through the book once, withholding judgment on matters of grammar or style and reflecting instead on the story as a whole. They will assess its readability, its narrative arc, and the level of satisfaction it offers when finished (there’s nothing worse than getting to the last quarter of a fascinating page-turner and feeling it suddenly dwindle, whether due to weak plotting, an overly epiphanic moment, or unsustainable pacing).
Once they have an idea of the author’s vision for the book, how the book actually went, and how the book should go, an editor will typically begin reading through again, this time taking their time with the language and performing a full copyedit (correcting mechanical and grammatical errors and ensuring stylistic consistency) in addition to noting specific craft needs. The editor may give the manuscript several more passes, or may write an evaluative critique at this point, making prescriptive suggestions addressing plot holes, characterization, thematic concerns, rhetoric, and the like.
Now, what most editors suggest is that you get your book a developmental edit first, focusing just on these larger craft issues, before focusing too deeply on the language. Chances are, you’ll need to make substantial revisions once you get their edits back, and may end up cutting or rewriting huge swathes of your manuscript. And then, of course, you may need to start the whole process over again…
Interested in learning about how BookFuel can help you edit your next book? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out!