Different Types of Freelance Editing Explained (so you know which one to choose)

This post is Part 1 to my professional editing series. Part 2 will be all about finding and choosing the perfect editor for your needs, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for that!

There’s a lot of confusion and stress surrounding professional editors. A lot of writers are confused by the editing options, the prices, turnarounds and all the extra tidbits.

So I’m going to try my best to demystify some of that today. We’re going to learn all about the different types of editing, and figuring out which option is right for you.

Any good editor will make specific suggestions. You should never get something back from them like “This chapter is boring,” or “Your word choice is very repetitive.”

Types of editing: We’re going to start with the biggest and work our way down. These edits should be done in this order, i.e. a developmental edit should never be done after a copy edit. Even if you skip one or two of these edits, proofreading should always be last, copy editing second-to-last, line editing before that and developmental first. There’s larger rewrites required for developmental editing, so it doesn’t make sense to erase all typos if you’re going to change a large chunk of your writing.

(Also called Content or Substantive)

If you’ve looked at editors and their prices, you’ll see that this is typically the most expensive edit. That’s because of how labor intensive it can be for the editor.

This type of editing focuses on developing the plot and usually has larger editing suggestions than any other kind of edit.

The editor looks at things like structure, story flow, character development, setting, organization, conflict, point-of-view, and voice. Developmental editing looks at the big picture of your story and isn’t meant to polish a manuscript - it’s meant to shift the pieces and fill in the holes so your foundation is sound.