Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Editing, Content Editing, Proofreading, Copyediting, Beta readers

Many people do not know what these terms mean, so I am going to make them the topic of today's blog.

Generally, a novel (or any written work) goes through at least one edit, it is formatted,  and then a proofread is done. There are, however, two different types of editing: traditional editing, which covers spelling, grammar, and punctuation; and content editing, which actually changes words and sentence structure to make the novel flow better. In addition, a content editor may tell the writer that certain parts of the novel do not make sense and need more explanation or why some parts need to be removed. A proofreader does traditional editing and makes sure that the novel is formatted the same throughout (for example, they will fix it if you accidentally used "body text" style with size 24 font on the chapter 6 heading instead of "Heading 1" with 14 point font that you used for the rest of your book.

Sometimes newer authors have a content edit done and then a regular edit afterward especially if they are uncertain about their writing style. Other new authors do not want to lose their "voice," and so they only want a traditional edit. Sometimes authors want to have two or three traditional edits done on their work by different people.

All editors should be familiar with "track changes" in MS Word and the "comments" feature. However, if you want the same editor to do multiple types of editing and/or proofreading, they should submit it to you at the end of each process. This is because it can get kind of messy and becomes very difficult to do a good job unless the changes done are accepted and notes are cleared. I will talk about this in my next post. Some of my employers want me to submit a document with the feature on and a second one with all the changes accepted, but I recommend writers go through and check each change themselves unless it is a content edit (sometimes employers do not even want me to use the track changes feature for this).
Beta readers are people who will voluntarily go through your work and give you tips about the story. They are good for picking out inconsistencies. They will fix grammar and spelling as well. In exchange, you need to list them in your acknowledgement section of your book. I will have more on beta readers in a while.

Copywriting is basically writing advertising, but copyediting is just another word for editing. A copyeditor and an editor are the same.

In general, non-fiction costs more to edit because of the references. Content editing and proofreading are more expensive than just editing for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

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