Professional editors do many different jobs for writers. What do you think an editor does? You might be surprised at how many different skills editors have. Some editors specialize in just one or two areas, while others do many different types of editing.
Substantive or structural editing reorganizes a manuscript and makes it more clear and concise. The editor may simply make suggestions to the writer, or may offer actual examples of how to re-do the manuscript. Usually an editor prefers to return the piece and let the writer work on the suggestions, which is why it is very helpful if you submit well ahead of any deadline. Otherwise, you might feel the editor has made changes you don’t agree with, but you have to accept.
Stylistic editing makes meaning clearer, eliminates jargon, and makes language smoother. Stylistic editing may include things like making the reading level more suitable, or helping the writer create better tables and charts.
Copy editing is editing for grammar, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style. It also checks that facts are consistent, and may include design elements such as placement of art. Copy editors may ensure that the author is consistently using Canadian (or British, American, etc.) spelling, help the author with setting up research citations correctly, edit captions, and edit cover copy and information on the bibliographic page at the front.
Fact or reference checking editors make sure facts are accurate, and that the writer has given credit to the correct sources of quotations.
Some editors specialize in creating indexes for books or long articles. Indexes can include names, places, subjects, concepts and more from the work.
Proofreading is another type of editing. A proofreader receives your manuscript after you have had it edited, and then have revised it to the best of your ability. If it has already gone to the typesetter, the proofreading will include the back and front covers, pictures, title page, table of contents, and more. The proofreader goes through the entire work one last time to look for any remaining errors such as spelling or punctuation, check that the page numbers are all correct, make sure that every picture has a caption, with the goal of making the manuscript completely ready for printing. If the proofreader finds too many minor errors, or has concerns about something more major, it may be sent back to the writer for improvements. This is why you as a writer want to ensure the manuscript is as well done as possible before the proofreader receives it. If errors are minor, the proofreader will make changes, or will send a list of needed changes to the typesetter, before it goes to the printer.
There are editors who specialize in the typesetting and production of a work. They may produce a mock-up from proofs, and copy fit illustrations. They may coordinate typesetting and design in the mock-up and assembly stages, bringing together design and content, working with designers, artists, typesetter, and printer. A picture research editor will locate suitable photos and artwork, as well as maps, diagrams, charts and other illustrations, and will work with graphic artists, photographers, and others. They will also prepare labels, captions, and sources for typesetting.
Other types of editors include developmental or project editors who will coordinate a project from proposal to final manuscript, with input from a team of others who are also working on the project. A rewrite editor will create a new manuscript or parts of a manuscript on the basis on content and research supplied by an author. The editor may also do research and write original material. So editors of course need to be good writers and readers as well as editors.
Because there are many different types of editing, it is important that you find an editor who is qualified and experienced in the type of editing you need. Be as specific about your needs as possible; a good editor will be happy to refer you to other editors if necessary.
Pen and Paper Mama Services provides a variety of editing services, including substantive/structural, stylistic, copy, fact checking, indexing, and proof-reading. Depending on the subject matter, rewrite editing, research, and writing of original material may also be available. If your needs are outside my areas of expertise, I will certainly refer you to other qualified editors.
Pen and Paper Mama Services also offers tutoring in the basics of self-editing, a useful skill for writers, which can provide savings in the actual time and costs of editing. Writing instruction and assistance is also available. Contact me for further information.