What kind of editor do you need?

When most people think of an editor, they picture a buttoned-up, librarian type. Some may be, but I maintain we editors are bad asses. We know words, how to structure them, and what our authors need, and when.

While working on their books or blogs, writers hear from friends, “You ought to hire an editor.” I wholeheartedly support this kind of friendly advice. But what kind of editor is best? (Raise your hand if you didn’t know there was more than one kind! It’s okay…no judgment here.) I suggest you hone in on exactly what kind of editor might be best for you right now. Let’s do some recon by answering these questions:

  • Do you have a fully written manuscript?
  • Is your book still an idea or a scattered collection of notes?
  • Have you written a blog for over a year and want to use your posts as the basis for a book?
  • Have you had your dangling participles checked?
  • Has your book been edited and is in the publishing pipeline?

Now that you’ve identified where you are in the publishing process, let’s explore the major types of editors you’ll encounter.

Manuscript evaluation

If you have at least a full first draft of your book, you may want to hire a manuscript evaluating editor. She will review your draft and provide high-level feedback for you to consider as you work on the following drafts until you’re ready for publication.

Developmental editor

You need a developmental editor if your project is just an idea or a scattered collection of inputs. A developmental editor can help you shape your book (or blog), by evaluating what you already have and making suggestions to move your project forward. She breaks down the process into small steps to keep you out of overwhelm.

A developmental editor can also support your blog writing process by helping you determine your ideal reader, create categories, and brainstorm compelling topics that will attract your ideal clients.

A subset of developmental editing is book coaching. A book coach serves many of the same functions as the developmental editor but adds accountability and cheerleading to the process. If you’ve ever written a book, you know those two aspects are crucial to getting ‘er done!

Line editor

Just as it sounds by its title, a line editor reviews your manuscript line-by-line. She checks for point-of-view, tone, pacing, and word choice. Sometimes the line editor can’t help herself, and she tackles grammar and punctuation at the same time, although this is outside the line editor’s role.


Your copyeditor’s role is to get down and dirty with your grammar, style, and punctuation. She’ll use either The Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook to ensure your work is up to snuff. You can help your copyeditor by purchasing and using E.B. White’s The Elements of Style. Many people believe that copyediting and proofreading are the same functions. Not true, my friend! (Although they’re very similar.)


A proofreader is the type of editor who reviews a hardcopy proof of the publication. For a book, proofing occurs with the book’s galley version, a draft publication. Giving an actual proof copy the once over catches many printing or publishing glitches, like dangling words or sentences. Once a book has been proofread, the publication process continues to publishing—and there was much rejoicing!

Next Steps

I hope this post illuminates the types of editing available to you—and shows how valuable editing is, in all its iterations. If you’re somewhere in this pipeline and would like to talk about your publication (book or blog), book a virtual coffee date with me and let’s chat.



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