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Editing 101

What kind of editor do you need? Editing is not a one-size fits all. Your writing will need a specific type of editor, depending on the status of your project. There are four main types of editing: developmental, copy editing, and proofreading. Included in this list is a book shepherd, a relatively new level of editing in the world of self-publishing. Let's review the different types of editing services.

Developmental Editor

This type of editing is big picture. You may have a concept for a book, but aren't sure where to go from there. A developmental editor can help you organize the project through small writing goals that result in a finished project. A developmental editor will work with you to make sure your project is viable and aligns with your publishing goal. If you have a finished manuscript, the editor will read and provide feedback on a big picture level, looking carefully at narrative arc, character development (fiction), story structure and readability.

Copy Editor

This service focuses on line by line instead of big picture evaluation of a manuscript. A line editor will look for clarity, focus, and tone. Problems such as run-on sentences, passive voice, cliches awkward wording and grammar are also identified during this editing process. After the line editor has completed her process, you will still need a proofreader to catch all those pesky physical errors.


This is the last chance to catch all the typos, misplaced apostrophes, missing commas, as well as layout issues such as extra spaces, mismatched margins or page number errors. This is not the time to catch anything other than a physical error.

Book Shepherd

This is not a technical term, but this type of consulting has gained momentum as self-publishing has increased in the past several years. The publishing process is more accessible now, so book shepherds have taken on a role of guiding those outside the publishing world through the process. Everything from obtaining an ISBN to helping with front matter and uploading the manuscript to an online publishing platform is included in this service. A book shepherd can help make sure your book looks professional, with the right paper weight, binding and cover that fits your budget.

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