The 5 Types of Fiction Editing, Explained by an Editor [infographic]

Jan 30, 2023 | Types of Editing

After starting my freelance copyediting business, I quickly noticed that indie authors have one burning question…

What type of editing do I need right now to take the next step toward publishing? 

They are often confused about which type they absolutely need and when they need it. Are there any that are optional

Now, as an editor, I recommend getting all five types of fiction editing steps done, and done specifically by a professional. But, that’s not in everyone’s budget. 

So, let’s take a look at the infographic above, which shows the 5 different types of fiction editing and what they can do for you.

As you can see, a professional manuscript critique or a beta read is a great way to start. Gather feedback from a reader’s perspective about the overall essence of your novel, including things like plot, themes, character likeability, and setting. 

The next phase would be developmental, or substantive, editing. This should be done on an early draft (not the first) by a professional who can expound on these ideas and guide you through the big-picture elements of your manuscript, including all of those mentioned above. The stage should be done when it’s not too late to accommodate significant changes, whether from budget or schedule demands. 

Once you are happy with your story, it is time to focus on the details. This is where a line editor and a copy editor come into play. They both work at the sentence level to assure that your point is coming across without any distractions. This can include everything from writing style to punctuation errors to consistency in character attributes.

 Lastly, once your manuscript is in its proof stage, a proofreader checks for last-minute issues, errors left undiscovered by the copyeditor, or formatting and design problems.

Blurred Lines of Fiction Editing

In the infographic, the steps are numbered in the order in which they should be carried out. Obviously, you’ll want to take care of the big picture before you get to the details. 

There are many different types of editors, and when searching for an editor, you’ll find many that do many different types of editing and others that do only one. One thing to remember when choosing an editor is that we all have different variations in how we carry out our edits. One editor may offer line editing mixed in with developmental editing, while another blends it in with their copyediting. 

Ask your editor to define their role as they see it. But, remember, a proofreader should never be combined with any other type. It should always be performed as its own separate step.

Now you know what all the 5 types of fiction editing are and when to do them! What type of editing do you need next? 

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