What Type of Book Editing Do You Need?

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/44/d609236839/htdocs/urbanfictioneditor.com/wp-content/plugins/q-and-a/inc/functions.php on line 252


In the current era of e-publishing and self-publishing, more people are writing and publishing that ever before―but not all of them understand the importance a good editor can make to their writing. In fact, some are tempted to skip an editor altogether, or just have a friend (who was always good in English) read and critique their work. Don’t do it! Your reputation (and perhaps even your money) is on the line. After all, you wouldn’t hire a techie friend to diagnose your transmission would you? Then why take the risk that your hard work might leave you stranded if not technically sound?

Most people have heard of editors and vaguely know what editors do, but not everyone knows that there are different types of editors who provide different services. It might help if you think of a professional editor as a surgeon or mechanic who is paid to help to polish and pull your fledgling book together into a fit, well-groomed masterpiece.

Just as there are heart surgeons and brain surgeons, there are editors for everything that ails your manuscript. You just have to know what kind of editor you need. I’ve written this post to help you figure that out.

Copy Editor

Five reasons why a copy editor is essential:

1. Homonyms confuse you.
2. You’ve never heard of an em dash.
3. Punctuation is not your strong suit.
4. You don’t know when to use a single quotation mark (‘) or a double one (“).
5. This is your first book.

A copy editor’s job is to give a manuscript a basic review, to make sure that it contains all the elements of good writing, including proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, and subject-verb agreement. These elements are also part of what is called syntax, which means the proper arrangement of words and punctuation in a sentence. The “five Cs” of copy editing are: clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent. Put another way, a copy editor will make sure that your writing reflects each of those “C” words, and contains no technical errors. Errors in a book make it less authentic and believable. Every manuscript should, at the very least, be reviewed by a copy editor.

Example: A copy editor recently received the following text: “ I’m tired, I don’t want to go out to dinner tonight ”. She said “ But you have too! Their going to be here soon! “ He said.

The editor corrected the text as follows: “I’m tired. I don’t want to go out to dinner tonight,” she said.

“But you have to! They’re going to be here soon,” he exclaimed.

The following text took a bit longer to correct:

Liz was expecting company at 11:00, but everything was ready at 10:30, so she went next door to visit her neighbor for a few minutes. At 10:50 her sun, Been, called her sell phone. He sounded a bit breathless.
“Mom, your too friends are hear. They brought in the male and there baring gifts two. Won is in a bade mooed and said she bald all the weigh hear. She feels udderly horse today butt she looks okay to me, even though her car was toad last weak. The other lady said I’m a deer and wants to make peas with you because she wasn’t fare to you and she aloud me to hold the flours she brought. Sew Mom, could you pleas come home now? Things aren’t making scents and I’m getting a little tents.”

Liz went home rite aweigh.

If you do not know what is wrong with the above paragraph- get an editor right away! Hint: There are 30 errors in this homonym example.

Line Editor

Four reasons why you might need a line editor:

1. You want to add vibrancy to your writing.
2. You write overly long sentences.
3. Sometimes you struggle to find the right words to use.
4. You’re not familiar with a thesaurus.

Screen shot 2013-06-23 at 12.01.07 AMA line editor’s job is to make sure that you, as a writer, are putting out the best quality product possible. This type of editor is the difference between being a writer with a good idea and a professional author. He or she will go over each sentence to make sure it’s ready for publication. This person is all about words―their magic and their power. She understands that words paint pictures in the mind of a reader, and that word selection can make a story vivid or dull. A line editor will search out and correct grammatically fractured sentences.

This includes legal issues, such as noting instances where permission to use material may be needed from an outside source. Like copy editors, a line editor will also check your work for grammar, punctuation, spelling and word usage, and will also note areas that are recommended for changes.


One line editor received a manuscript in which the main character “advised” everything he said whenever he spoke, as in the following: “I’ll pick you up after school,” he advised. The editor encouraged the writer to explore the many different words we have to convey the word “said.” Examples are: growled, yelped, cried, snarled, shouted, exclaimed, announced, reported, proclaimed, stated, answered, responded … you get the picture. Each of those suggested words added more vividness to the writer’s sentences, and allowed the reader to form a more colorful picture of the character’s mood when he spoke.

Here’s another example. What would you do with it? “Yesterday was one of those days I should have stayed in bed. I was late to work because my alarm clock didn’t go off, so I missed the 9:00 meeting and since I wasn’t there, I was assigned to plan the office party next month and OMG, I just hate doing that―I’m not good at those people things; then at lunch I got mustard on my tie and as I was trying to wipe it off I dropped my hot dog and would you believe that a dog ate it so I was hungry all afternoon, and then to make things worse, my boss yelled at me because the copy machine was out of paper, like that’s my job; see what I mean―I just should have stayed in bed.”

The run-on sentence above should be at least 5 sentences. I would make it 6, but 5 is the minimum.

Content Editor

Four reasons why a content editor can be your best friend:

1. Your story has multiple sub-plots, but it isn’t clear how they are related to each other.
2. Your characters are underdeveloped.
3. Your tenses or voices change throughout your writing. At times you write in the present tense and in the past tense at others, or the story is told in the first person by one character, but switches to another character’s perspective in the third person.
4. You’ve overlooked a plot twist that could add a new dimension to your story.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 2.00.06 PMA content editor looks over your manuscript with a professional eye and a fine tooth comb―very much concerned with the big picture. She is able to look past any shortcomings and envision what kind of book this manuscript can become. This type of editor looks at the theme of your book, how characters and plot intertwine, writing style and dialogue―assessing whether they work together cohesively. If inconsistencies are found or elements of the plot stray, the editor will recommend changes for the writer to make, and if accepted, will read them again after revisions to make sure the intended goals (in the changes) for the manuscript were met. Flagging course deviations from style, clarity and plot is the primary goal of content editing.

Example: A character in a story overcomes many hardships and obstacles, but the story ends without telling the reader how those events shaped her values, and what ultimately became of her later in life. A good content editor will spot this omission and encourage the author to add this information to satisfy readers.

See if you can identify the problem in this example: “Nothing scares me. Put me in a dark, creaky room with thunder booming outside and I’m asleep in five minutes. Last Halloween, I’m getting ready to go to a party, and my costume is a not-so-scary scarecrow. I walk the three blocks to my friend’s house when I realized I was being followed. I turned at least three times and saw a tall man in a hat following me. My blood ran cold and I walked faster. When I reached my friend’s house, I pounded frantically on the door, and turned around, only to see the man right behind me. But it’s all good―it’s my friend, Alan. He’s at the party, too, wearing a straw hat just like I am. He said he had been trying to catch up to me.”

Hint: The Halloween paragraph has 4 tense changes.

Developmental Editor

Four reasons why a developmental editor could be a lifesaver:

1. You have a detailed story idea, but you’re not sure how to present it in the most compelling way.
2. Your writing started out with enthusiasm, but halfway through it feels like it is running out of steam.
3. You find yourself getting sidetracked by plot “tangents.”
4. English is not your native language.

This editor does a thorough, in-depth edit that is structural in nature. Material can be added or deleted, clarified or reorganized. Issues of style, voice and plot can also be fixed. Developmental editing also includes rewriting content where necessary, research to support elements in the manuscript, and attention to terminology that fits the topic and complexity of the piece―fiction or nonfiction. This level of editing can be particularly helpful for writers whose native language is not English; the editor assists with revisions to conform the language to the typical phrasing of native English speakers.

The writer also receives an editorial review letter that explains the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript, in great detail, and the recommendations that are proposed to improve it. Sometimes, the developmental editor gets involved in the planning stages of a book, before writing has begun. This has some obvious advantages, especially if the author is relatively inexperienced. No matter what point in the writing process a developmental edit begins, it is highly desirable that the author and the editor work closely together. It’s important to remember, too, that the editor’s job is to make the resulting book cohesive, engaging and plausible―the best book it can be.

Example: Here’s a good illustration of an author and an editor working together. An editor once worked on a manuscript written by a novice runner preparing for his first marathon. He had done a good job of outlining how he learned to love running, how he decided to run his first marathon, and how he developed his running regimen in preparation for the big day. He even presented tables of his running times, his daily mileage, and his nutritional preparation (liquids, protein, and so forth). His writing was progressing nicely until he had to take a business trip to California, which interrupted his daily regimen. He decided to take his family with him, and wrote not only about how he incorporated his running along the oceanfront (relevant), but how much his son loved playing in the ocean, and how nice their rented condo was (not relevant). He even included photos of the condo in the manuscript (very not relevant). He had veered off track, into territory that was not likely to be interesting to his readers. However, when this was pointed out by his editor, he saw the point and revised the manuscript, mentioning only that he was able to continue his marathon training regimen in California, and that his family had accompanied him and enjoyed themselves.

Every manuscript needs at least a copy edit because we just don’t see our own errors. And then there are others where the writers have a good story to tell but they’re not “wordsmiths.”

Like it or not, your book is a product. The whole reason you’re writing a book is for people to read it and readers are tough customers, sharp consumers, who know quality when they see it. They won’t care how much your gram gram’s dumplings meant to you unless they can relate to her. In essence, you must sell readers your grandma, one word at a time and there are a plethora of literary techniques to achieve this.

That’s why a good professional editor is your best partner. An editor’s job is to have your back, one page at a time, and make your book the best book it can be, while never forgetting that the big picture is to make your book interesting, meaningful and dynamic for the end user―the reader. And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

How to Write Your Book in Just a Couple of Weeks

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/44/d609236839/htdocs/urbanfictioneditor.com/wp-content/plugins/q-and-a/inc/functions.php on line 252

images-1There are several good reasons why should you write your book in just a couple of weeks.  First, let’s be frank, shall we? Does it really matter that your book took 5 years to write? Honestly, who cares? Stephen King churns ‘em out monthly, and we still can’t get enough. You are certainly welcome to tell people that it took you a year, or even two, to write your masterpiece, but if your book sucks, that erroneous information won’t compel anybody to keep reading it.

Furthermore, if you don’t write it fast, chances are very good that you won’t write it all. In this the Age of Information, someone (just like you) gets tons of ideas every day, and with so many emails to answer and useless gadgets to learn how to use, time is speeding up and it’s getting harder and harder to pen things down, to focus and go the long haul with our literary aspirations.

UntitledNot to mention, at the end of the day, some folks are just talkers while others are doers. If you call yourself a Writer then by all means be a doer-writer. It is infinitely more satisfying to have people at parties comment on you PUBLISHED book, than to hear yourself drone on and on, again and again, about The Book you are eternally working on. You know what I’m talking about. Only published authors command this coveted indulgence.

I am sorry to have to burst your romantic bubble this way, but the fact is, creativity does not have to be grueling and drawn out. It can be lightening quick, engaging and compelling, too. Truly prolific authors know this. Productivity is creativity in motion.

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 1.51.01 PMNow, there are many long, hard roads to getting The Book (finished and bound with your name on it) in hand and there is only one short route to it. The myriad of long ways involve the stress and heartache of trying to figure out what to write about while waiting for that illusive muse to bring it on, or writing a series of lengthy book proposals to swamped publishing houses and sitting back to wait for that long line of rejection letters to pour in (because you’re an unknown writer) and, worst of all, if you don’t become completely demoralized and lose interest by then, you may take years to finish the original manuscript, if you ever finish it at all.

This article is all about the short way to write and publish your book. It’s about the straight line between two points. If you know anything at all about your subject matter, it should take you a couple of weeks to write your book – in your spare time. I did it and you can too. In fact, many life-altering books were written on airplanes for that matter.

Step 1
I have said this many times before and I will say it again. You have to make an outline. No, you may not skip this step; the whole thing will not work without it. There are many great online articles on how to do this. In the interest of time, remember you must write it fast, I suggest you read my previous post on How to Write a Book outline in Just a Few Minutes mentioned in the Resources section of this article.

Step 2
So Many Books So Little TimeOnce you have the outline in place, change each subject of each Chapter list into a question. For example, if Chapter 4 is entitled: 4. When Cats Bite, and the subjects for each Chapter are:
b. Breed
Change these to:
a.What do hormones have to do with cats biting?
b. Which breeds bite more often?
c. How can you discipline your cat to stop biting?

Step 3

Then, start writing by answering these questions. If you did your outline well, the writing part will be fun and easy, just like a game of Connect the Dots. Just take a few moments here and there throughout your day to write quickly and fill in all the spaces listed in your outline. You will be amazed at how much writing you can do if you start by carrying a printed copy of this list around with a pad and pen, and answer one question, each time you find yourself sitting in a waiting room or standing on line somewhere. Becoming adept at a technique of free writing, without thinking (seriously), will allow you to right as much as a page in 5 minutes. This way you can have 200 pages done in 40 hours! That’s 4 weeks of writing just 10 hours per week, 2 hours per day, with weekends off! This way, when you write, your mind and the subject matter is always fresh and you don’t become frustrated or overwhelmed, which would put your entire project in jeopardy.

Step 4
Don’t bother editing it until you’ve written the whole thing!! No kidding. If you persist in doing these cosmetic-touch-ups while writing, before you have committed all your ideas to paper then, 9 times out of 10 your book will never be finished. When you are done, just give it a  quick grammar and spell check. Then reread you writing over and over again until you feel safe enough to send it to a professional editor who will then polish it and shape it to the finished product.

Step 5
Now back to the romantic stuff: contact an online Self-Publishing Company and go to press! As soon as this part is taken care of, you can start organizing your book tour of local bookstores and radio station and get back to plugging your book with friends at parties. It is not uncommon for conventional Book Publishing Companies to want to “pick up” a book that has moderate sales success at local booksellers and Amazon. If you know you’ve got what it takes, go for the self-publishing. No one need know the difference and you can have the chance to prove your mettle through online sales and reviews.

Tips & Warnings

* Keep your day job, please. You’re going to need a lot of patience and dedication, many followup novels, and/or a solid speaker’s platform to become a full-time author.
* Do not write and edit. If you do, you’ll never be done.
* Ask yourself this question: If you choose to ignore this advice, will your book be done any time soon?
* I went from earning $25,000 annually to over $300,000 (Yep, that comma is in the correct place) within 18 months of writing my Best Selling Real Estate Book. I wrote it in just 2 weeks and had the first printed copy in hand 3 weeks later. No joke. I did it and so can you.

For a detailed directions on writing a winning book outline read part 1 in this series:

* How to Write a Book Outline in Just A Few Minutes