As I’ve mentioned in the past, once you have completed the first draft of a novel, it does not mean that writing the book is over. Far from it, in fact. The first and second drafts of a book are when the scenes are coming together, and you are finding your story similarly to how an archaeologist would excavate “a fossil in the ground,” in the words of Stephen King.

So once that fossil has been unearthed, and you feel that your fledgling book is ready for another’s opinion … where do you go from here?

That all depends on a number of factors, and there are different editors for each one. As an indie author, you are going to want to figure out where your strengths are with your book, what your budget for editing is, and the amount of revision you feel is necessary and/or that you want to spend time completing. The three main types of editing are these:

  1. Developmental
  2. Line editing/copy-editing
  3. Proofreading

Developmental editing is the most in-depth style of editing, and it is going to (most likely) be the more expensive option. Some editors will combine services, but usually developmental editing is not one of them. That is because a developmental edit on your manuscript is going to look at the story as a whole—the scenes, the characters, any plot holes, whether it is compelling, what scenes/descriptions can be cut, what scenes need more description/action, etc. Developmental edits can be time-consuming because the editor is reading your manuscript not only from a typical “editor’s” standpoint (fixing grammatical errors), but as a “reader” who is determining whether it is an entertaining book that achieves what it set out to achieve (this will depend on the genre; for example, romance novels want to entice readers with sensual characters and chemistry, while a murder mystery’s goal is to instill fear and intrigue in the reader’s mind). You want to go with this option if you have a larger budget, a long timeline, and want the validation and expertise of a professional who knows what makes a book alluring to a potential reader.

Line editing is one step down from developmental editing—it is not as in-depth an exploration of the content of the manuscript. Line editing will mostly focus on the sentence structure, as well as to clean up/reword sentences or areas that need clarification. A lot of times editors will offer line editing with a proofreading option, so that any misspelled words or incorrect punctuation can be remedied as well. Sometimes (with Midnight Publishing, for example) editors commissioned for a line editing job will offer suggestions or thoughts regarding scenes in the manuscript that do pertain to the content. It won’t be as in-depth as a developmental edit, however if an editor notices a significant issue or feels a scene could be described in more detail/worded differently to evoke stronger emotions, etc. they will usually share that. This option is great if you are on a stricter deadline, have a smaller budget, and/or feel pretty confident regarding your grasp on the storyline, and mostly want assistance with word arrangements and to present a more succinct finished book.

Proofreading is the third option for editing, and it is going to be the least expensive. A proofread edit will solely focus on fixing spelling and punctuation errors, ensuring that terms are capitalized/referenced correctly, numbers are spelled properly depending on the style you choose (AP vs. Chicago style), and the like. Proofreading is a great choice if you have a smaller budget and want assistance in a clean, properly-formatted document, but feel confident regarding the content and sentence structure of the document.

The good news is, Midnight Publishing offers all of the above, and the even better news is that we are one email away from discussing your project. Get in touch at and start the process toward a clean, professional book you can be proud to publish.

Until next time, keep writing and keep dreaming!