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5 editing terms indie authors should know

Are you an author planning to self publish? Does some of the jargon associated with editing confuse you? Then this blog outlining 5 editing terms indie authors should know will help!

As an indie author, you need to know exactly what editing terms, phrases and descriptions mean. This blog explains and demystifies those terms.

For example:

  • What does developmental editing include?
  • How is line editing different to copy editing?
  • What is a Frankenstein edit?

The answers to these questions will become clear!

5 editing terms indie authors should know

1. Sample edit

A professional editor should always offer a sample edit before they agree to edit your full manuscript. In addition, you must review the sample edit carefully before you decide to book them as your editor. Some editors offer free sample edits, usually between 500-1,000 words. However, others may charge a set fee for sample edits (which may be then deducted off the cost of the full edit should you choose to work with them).

A sample edit ensures you as the author:

  • Know what level of editing your book needs
  • Feel the editor is a good fit for you and your book
  • Understand what is included in the editing service
  • Feel reassured the editor understands the book’s genre expectations
  • Are given a transparent price and timeframe for the editing work involved
  • Are able to evaluate the impact the edit could have on the whole manuscript

A sample edit also ensures the editor:

  • Feels you are a good fit for working together
  • The book is ready for professional intervention
  • Feels their skills and knowledge (and specialisms, if relevant) can benefit the book

Some editors may ask for a sample from the beginning of the novel. Some may ask for a sample from the middle. However, others may request your full manuscript and edit a section of their choosing. It depends on the editor. If a professional editor refuses to complete a sample, you should seriously question whether they are the right editor for you.

2. Line/copy editing

Line editing and copy editing are usually interchangeable terms. However, different editors may still mean different things when referring to each. Always ask what is included in the editing service they recommend you need.

Generally, line or copy editing usually focuses on:

  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar corrections
  • Consistent formatting e.g. how dates/times/numbers are written
  • Character name/description/distinguishing feature(s) consistency
  • Correcting incorrect words, adding missed words and deleting duplicated words
  • Removing writing clutter (How to cut the clutter for page-turning prose will help with this too!)

3. Developmental/structural editing

As with line/copy editing, developmental and structural editing are usually interchangeable terms. As a result, different editors may have a preference for one term or the other. Again, make sure you are clear what developmental/structural changes your editor will address in your manuscript.

Generally, development/structural editing usually focuses on big picture issues such as:

  • Plot order
  • Major plot holes
  • Pace of the book
  • Plausibility of events
  • Loose/unnecessary story threads
  • Adding, swapping and/or removing scenes if necessary

4. Track Changes

Track Changes is a function within Microsoft Word. It is standard practice for editors to work through manuscripts in Word by making changes to the body text in the manuscript, as well as add comments/suggestions using comment bubbles in the right hand margin. After the edit, you can then accept or reject the changes as you see fit. You always have the final say.

5. Frankenstein edit

Last in this list of 5 editing terms indie authors should know, a Frankenstein edit is requesting sample edits from several editors in order to stitch together a full manuscript edit for free. Needless to say, this is not good practice! Even if you think your book only needs a light line/copy edit, it is impossible to ensure consistency throughout a full manuscript if different editors have edited different sections. As a result, it could cause a lot of problems! Individual editors will have their own style of editing based on their individual training and experience. In conclusion, avoid a Frankenstein edit!

I hope 5 editing terms indie authors should know has been helpful. If it has, check out my other related blogs:

How to cut the clutter for page-turning prose

10 self publishing terms indie authors should know

What are the basic differences between editing and proofreading?

Alternatively, please contact me to request your free 1,000 word sample edit or to ask any questions about the editing process!

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