Why It’s Easy to Miss Your Own Mistakes
As the writer you know what you mean to say and how it’s supposed to read. Consequently, that’s what your mind will see on the page or screen when you proofread and edit your own work. It’s called mental overlay and it’s something everyone does.
A key ingredient to top quality writing is having a second (or third) set of eyeballs reviewing your material. Someone who actually can’t help but notice the important elements you may have overlooked. Someone whose secret mission is to enhance and perfect your message as best as humanly possible. That way your audience is presented with the absolute best, most professional, credible content around.
Understanding the Different Levels of Editing
There are different levels of editing. You can think of them as points along a spectrum ranging from “micro” to “macro.” When you understand these different levels of editing, you can choose what’s best for your project and your goals.
Publishing houses, editors, writers, professional groups, and other resources use the industry terms in slightly different ways, which means it’s important to be clear about what you’re looking for and what you’re expecting. This way your editor can do the absolute most to transform your good book into a great book, or your great book into an awesome book.
Read through the different options below.
Line editing involves much more than “spell check.” A line editing project includes work to find and correct errors related to appropriate word choice, verb tense, plural / singular, basic punctuation, sentence spacing.
You can think of these projects as the most detail-oriented form of help with your manuscript.
She has taken a full year to write her new book. I can already tell its fantastic because I just read the forward.
She has taken a full year to write her new book. I can already tell it’s fantastic because I just read the foreword.
• “Its” needs an apostrophe because “it’s” means “it is.”
• Forward is a direction of motion, a foreword is the preface or introductory note at the beginning of a book.
Copy editing can be thought of as an “intermediate” level of involvement with your manuscript. Copy editing projects include more work to find and correct errors and inconsistencies related to syntax, overall grammar, and minor structural aspects (like paragraph structure). Copy editing makes sure your sentences are clear, correct, and concise.
Copy editing projects also include the work described in the line editing section.
I’m an economist and even the people who know me best don’t fully understand what my job entails. Just the other day I was explaining what I do to my closest colleagues.
I’m an economist and very few people understand what I do, even my closest colleagues. Just the other day I was explaining what my job entails.
The second sentence implies that the person speaking “does something” to her or his “closest colleagues.” (Hmmm…I wonder what that might be?) 😉
Developmental editing is the most involved level of attention your work can receive. Much of the work takes place at a “higher level.” In other words, it’s more of a “big picture” approach to your manuscript. This includes help with overall content structure, how the information is presented, sequence and flow of information, relevance to target audience, making sure ideas are fully developed, and making sure the work is consistent in terms of tone and point of view.
You can think of developmental projects as being very co-creative. They can begin at any phase of writing – from the inception of an idea, to a rudimentary outline, to a complete manuscript that you’re eager to see evolve. This also means developmental projects can sometimes include an element of project management, as we work together to establish a production schedule, writing deadlines, and other goals.
Once the developmental process is complete, your work then goes through another follow-up phase of copy editing to insure outstanding quality.
There are two general options for developmental projects.
Option 1 – Developmental editing with markup:
I guide you through the process of writing and re-writing, based on the structural and other recommendations I propose.
The word “markup” comes from the world of printing. It literally means to “mark up” a body of text with comments, corrections, and suggestions.
Your document will be returned to you full of recommendations for ways to improve and enhance your work. Your next step is to then make those changes in the document yourself.
Option 2 – Developmental editing with copy writing:
I actually do the writing and re-structuring work myself, again based on the structural and other recommendations I propose.
Rather than doing the markup process, I do the writing, re-structuring, and other work for you.
You will receive two documents. One will track all the improvements that have been made, and the other will be a “clean,” fully revised document with no markup or tracking.