Once you complete your short story, poem, or novel to your satisfaction, you might be eager to start sending out submissions. But since you’ve been focusing on the work for hours on end, making changes and checking for errors, you may have become “blind” to all the possible typos, plot holes, or grammar mistakes, and missed some. To ensure your writing is the best it can be, you should have an editor review your work. But which type of editor do you need? The experts at Writer’s Relief explain the 7 different types of editors so you can make the right choice for your writing.
Types of Editors: What They Do And Why Writers Need Them
Developmental Editor. These editors are most concerned with the overall shape of a story: the plot progression, characterization, tone, and themes of your book or short story. Developmental editors can help you keep your story consistent from beginning to end with minimal road bumps. If you’re writing a novel, you may want to enlist a developmental editor while still working on early drafts, as a second set of professional eyes can make sure you don’t flounder with plot points that just won’t line up.
Critique Partner. A critique partner can be another writer from your writing group. As fellow writers, critique partners will often be able to point out specific flaws in your writing style because they’ve faced similar challenges themselves. These editors will be able to give their best feedback after you’ve completed a full draft, but they may be able to offer helpful tips during the writing process as well. And of course, you’d be expected to offer the same sort of feedback on any projects your partner has in the works.
Content Editor. A content editor focuses on line editing: the content and flow of your work. Content editors address overall plot and character issues like a developmental editor, but also point out stylistic inconsistencies, awkward word choices, and sections that could be rewritten. Content editors check every aspect of your writing and offer the most feedback. You should have a completed draft before you hire a content editor and be ready to make changes.
Copy Editor/Proofreader. Many people use the terms proofreader and copy editor interchangeably. Copy editors are the proofreading nitpickers of the editorial world who focus on the nuts and bolts of your writing: grammar, formatting, word choice, and punctuation. These proofreaders look over content after it has gone through the other stages of editing.
Beta Reader. A beta reader is usually not a professional editor. When you’re ready to enlist the feedback of a beta reader, your manuscript should have already completed the professional editing rounds. Beta readers give you a layman’s opinion of your story or novel, which lets you know where your writing is strong and where it might still need more work to appeal to your audience.
Fact Checker. If you have a lot of specialized information in your book or story—especially if it’s nonfiction—you should have your manuscript reviewed by a fact checker. This type of editor examines the factual references, checks for inaccuracies, and verifies the information using external resources. Historical fiction and even science fiction can also benefit from having a fact checker look over the manuscript.
Acquisition Editor. The acquisition editor is the person you’re addressing in your cover letter when you’re making submissions to literary journals. Journal editors decide whether or not to publish your work, so they may seem different from the other types of editors. However, an acquisition editor may also suggest edits to your manuscript in order to make it a better fit for the publication. At this stage, you may not be as open to making changes to your work, but you should always consider the suggestions made by these editors.
Having a clear idea of what you need from an editor will make it easier for you to choose the right person to help improve your writing. Websites like Reedsy and the Editorial Freelancers Association are great resources for finding the type of editor you need. And if you’d like affordable, professional help proofreading your poetry, short stories, personal essays, or book, the experts at Writer’s Relief are here to lend a hand!
Question: Which type of editor do you work with most often?