In previous posts, I mentioned a developmental editor. But this type of editor is needed much earlier in the process when you need help with the overall story structure. At this point in your writing and editing process (step six), you need to hire a content or line editor.
In researching the definitions of these two types of editors, the distinction seems to be blurred. The gist of both are they look less at the overall flow and structure and more at the line-by-line construction.
By strict definition, line editors look at your word usage. They can help you find inconsistencies with point of view or tenses. They can help you find better words for your descriptions or better ways to write your sentences.
Content editors might provide help on a broader scope, but not as broad as a developmental editor. They might notice plot holes or point out flat characters or scenes. They could let you know when some scenes are too slow or when you accidentally fall into telling rather than showing.
Ideally, you’d like an editor to do both line and content editing. Honestly, in looking at the services of several editors, I found they described their line editing to include features of content editing and vice versa.
When searching for an editor, be sure to read the specifics on their services and ask them if they will do a sample for you. Submit a sample to a handful of editors and review the results to see which feedback fits better with what you need.
This type of editor is not cheap, but it can make a world of difference. I am at this state with my second novel. And while I feel my writing is spot-on, I am amazed with all the things my line editor found in the sample I sent her. In some ways, her red lines and comments were daunting. But I loved how much better my writing came out with her suggested improvements.
Whether you’re going to submit your novel to a literary agent or self-publish it, a content or line editor is a great investment. Let your writing get the attention of a literary agent or give self-publishers a good name by publishing something that will knock their socks off. Make your novel the best it can be!
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations when it comes to content or line editors? I’d love to hear from you.