If you’ve written a novel or a nonfiction book, you know you’re going to need an editor to ensure you’ve written the best book possible.

But what kind of editing do you need?

A developmental edit, sometimes called a content edit or story edit, identifies and helps you solve big-picture problems. In fiction, this might be poor character development or the lack of a strong central conflict. In nonfiction, this might be an argument that isn’t clearly supported or information presented in the wrong order. Typically, the manuscript is finished and the author has revised it to the best of their ability before a developmental editor begins their work. A typical developmental edit includes a manuscript edit with comments (called editorial queries) on the page to help you understand how to make your story stronger, along with a revision letter to help guide your revision process.

A subset of developmental editing is manuscript evaluation, which typically consists of a revision letter but no manuscript edits or queries. Because it is less time-consuming it is usually less expensive than a full developmental edit.

Book coaching can help you at any point where you’re stuck. If you need help developing a concept or fleshing out an idea, if you’re halfway through the first draft and can’t figure out where to go from here, if you’re not sure what to do once you’ve written “the end,” a book coach can help. They typically work one-on-one, on an hourly basis.

Beta reads and critiques are conducted by readers who simply provide overall feedback about what they liked and didn’t like about your manuscript. These are not intended to provide informed opinions by experienced publishing professionals; they are just intended to reflect what the reader experiences as they read.

Copyediting is a type of editing intended to ensure that a manuscript conforms to generally accepted grammar, spelling, and usage standards.

Line editing is a type of editing that helps authors improve their prose and to address certain smaller-picture problems like using awkward sentences, over-exposition, telling rather than showing, among others. This is a type of copyediting that is less concerned about making sure your manuscript adheres to a style guide and more concerned about polishing your words.

Proofreading is the final defense against error. A proofreader checks for egregious errors to make sure they don’t wind up in the published book. If you hire no other editor, at least hire a proofreader to make sure you don’t turn off readers with typos and other errors. These are very hard for writers to catch in their own work.

In traditional publishing, a manuscript usually goes through three rounds of editorial: the developmental round, the copyediting round, and the proofreading round.

Since independent authors rarely have the budget to do all three, they will often pick a developmental editor to help them address overall story problems and a proofreader to help them catch any stray errors that remain after the revision process. The developmental editor and the proofreader should not be the same person, as it is too easy for someone who has worked on the manuscript before to miss errors.

At DevelopmentalEditors.com, we have editors who can provide any of these functions. For more about what you can expect to spend, check out the rates page.