What kind of editor do I need?
Not all editing is the same; so your first task is to decide what sort of editing help you need.
Here are the main options.
Manuscript assessor: An assessor will not (usually) offer editing services, but merely reads the MS to give you early feedback on any major issues, such as: Is it likely to find a readership? Is it too similar to existing books on this topic? Do you need to look honestly at your writing style? There are a number of professional MS assessors out there; get a few quotes because you’ll find their fees vary considerably. As ever, ask for credentials and/or go by recommendations. The New Zealand Society of Authors website (www.authors.org.nz) lists several assessors, many of whom have fulfilled the strict entry criteria for membership of the NZ Association of Manuscript Assessors (NZAMA).
Structural editor: A structural editor reads your book both as an editor and as a reader, and again asks the big questions, such as: Does the narrative flow evenly? Is this chapter too long and detailed – or is more detail needed in places? They may suggest major cuts, additions and rearrangements, tasking you to do more work or to rethink your book in a major way, so you’ll need to approach this stage with an open mind. (Though you can, of course, seek a second opinion.) There will be a stage, after they’ve edited, when you go through their changes and accept or reject them, or make revisions; they’ll then do a final tidy-up.
Copyeditor: If the structural editor wields a large blade, the copyeditor uses a scalpel: they will go carefully through your text, line by line, to ensure that there are no spelling, grammar or syntax errors. By the time your MS has been copyedited, it should be sparkling clean and ready to go into layout. Again, there will be a process for you to review their changes.
Proofreader: Once the text has been typeset and laid out, a set of proofs should ideally be read by a professional proofreader, whose job it is to look for anything the copyeditor and/or typesetter may have missed. Ideally they will be a different person from your regular editor, to ensure your text is seen by fresh eyes. The proofreader will mark up the proofs and return them with comments. Assuming you’ve contracted a designer to lay the book out, it will be then the designer’s job to input the proofreader’s changes. If you work with us, we will organise the proofread for you and ensure you get to review any changes.
Blurb writer: Blurbs matter! After all, when a prospective customer picks up your book in a store, they will take just a few seconds to decide whether to buy it. There’s a definite knack to writing blurbs. Some editors are particularly good at it, so this is another question to consider when assembling your publishing team.
What type of editor have you used?