Pat Iyer

By Pat Iyer

What Kind of Editor Do You Need?

What Kind of Editor Do You Need? 150 150 Patricia Iyer

Some writers, those who have just begun the process, know that they need editors. Others, who have a little more experience, may question that need. “I know how to spell and punctuate,” they say. “I have good grammar skills.”

Editing, though, involves much more. Think about your home and car. How much of the work needed for maintenance and repair do you do yourself? For how much do you hire professionals?

An editor, in any of the categories I describe below, has a professional ability to make your  manuscript shine.

To simplify these descriptions, I’m taking the example of a nonfiction book, although these forms of editing can also apply to fiction, blog posts, marketing materials, and other forms of writing.

At What Stage is Your Project?

 Have you ever started this kind of project before?

  • Do you have an idea you want to develop?
  • Do you have a rough draft?
  • Have you finished a manuscript?
  • Do you feel stuck at any stage of the writing?

Developmental Editor

In the early stages of a writing project, consider a developmental editor to lend structure or organization. Say, for example, that you want to share the lessons you’ve learned in building a business. Maybe you can’t decide whether to have the lessons unfold in within the context of telling your life story (autobiography) or to tuck the autobiographical elements within the format of each lesson.

A developmental editor can help you make these decisions and also break your information into individual elements so that they can be best organized.

This kind of editor may work with you from the beginning to the end of the project.

Content Editor

This editor will evaluate your manuscript and make suggestions for changes that can be minor or major. This may involve fine-tuning the smoothness of flow from one topic to the next. If you’ve inadvertently repeated a story in Chapter 11 that you told in Chapter 2, the content editor should catch that. He or she gives your book a macroscopic (looking at the larger aspects) polish.

Line Editor

This editor provides the microscopic polish. She or he looks for clichés, poor pacing, run-on or overly long sentences, overuse of passive voice, incorrect word usage, and other errors. This kind of editing may include grammar and punctuation.

Copyediting and Proofreading

From my viewpoint, most of the differences between these forms of editing are too minor to be noted. This editor works on punctuation, grammar, and spelling.

A proofreader has an additional role worth mentioning. For a print publication, proofreaders check the overall appearance of the pages before printing, looking for unintentional space, missing titles, mis-numbered pages, and related issues. If they see typos and other errors, they will mark them for correction.

You  may end up needing all of these professionals in the course of your publishing journey in order to ensure that your book is as good as it can be.

One well-qualified editor can provide more than one type of editing.

The editor will save you from embarrassing typos, improve your work, and make you shine.

Pat Iyer is one of the original 100 C Suite Network Advisors and is an editor and ghostwriter. Contact her through her website,