So, why should an author hire an editor? After several rewrites and re-reading, an author can easily get so close to his own writing that he is not be able to see his own errors. Some may not even be aware of the mistakes they are making because they are not familiar with style guides or grammar rules. For example, there are several different style guides and while most agree on the basics, there are acceptable word usages and punctuation that make writing a book different than writing for the Web.

Additionally, we see so many typos and grammatical errors on the Web and in books that are self-published (or brought to market by publish-on-demand companies) that after a while, these mistakes become so commonplace, many people view them as acceptable. To an avid reader, these errors are sure signs that the book was either written by an amateur or by someone who did not care about preserving the foundation upon which good books have always been built. That is not the image an author wants to portray.

Devoted readers are accustomed to a high standard of quality in the writing, layout, and physical properties of a book. They will not tolerate blatant errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar, nor will they be inclined to backtrack to locate what they missed when they are confused by what an author has written.

Another reason authors should have their books edited is because an unedited or poorly written book is a legitimate reason for a publisher to reject it. It is difficult enough to get a book accepted by a conventional publisher without having to further reduce your chances with a book that an agent can’t “sell” to a publisher or acquisition editor.

Below are two types of editing services we offer.  Please use our contact page if you have any questions.

Reader’s Critique

The purpose of a reader’s critique is usually to guide the rewrite. This is a common kind of editing that I see freelancers offer. It’s basically self-explanatory. Editors offering reader’s critiques will discuss what works for them in the book and what doesn’t. They typically provide margin notes and summative comments. The purpose of a reader’s critique is usually to guide the rewrite.


Proofreading is a different animal than other forms of editing because it does not typically require sizable rewrites and changes but instead consists of shining up a well-written and already-edited manuscript to ensure accuracy, credibility, and precision of language. Proofreaders generally only correct technical errors and minor style flaws, but usually no more than 5-10 errors per typed manuscript page. Specifically, proofreaders often check for:

  • Errors in punctuation
  • Spelling mistakes and typos
  • Misplaced and dangling modifiers
  • Occasional awkward phrasing

Substantive Editing

In substantive editing (also known as developmental editing and comprehensive editing), the editor considers a document’s concept and intended use, content, organization, design, and style. The purpose is to make the document functional for its readers, not just to make it correct and consistent.

Substantive editing is almost entirely analysis-based, whether at the document level or at the paragraph, sentence, or word level. Decisions require judgment, not just the application of rules, and therefore should be negotiable with the writer.

Contrast this work with copy-editing, most of which is rules-based and concerned with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics of style and the internal consistency of facts and presentation. Both types of edit are essential; they just focus on different issues.

A substantive edit deals with the overall structure of the publication:

  • Does it all fit together into a coherent whole?
  • Is the order of presentation logical (from the target audience’s point of view)?
  • Is all the necessary information included, and unnecessary information deleted?
  • Are the retrieval aids (table of contents, internal headings, index) useful? Do they contain terms that are useful to the target audience?
  • For online materials (such as CD-ROM or Web sites), are the navigation aids logical and useful in context? Can users easily find the links they want?

Substantive editing may involve restructuring or rewriting part or all of a document.

A related edit is the language edit, which is concerned with how ideas are expressed. For example:

  • Sentence complexity and use of active or passive verbs
  • Conciseness
  • Clear, logical development of ideas
  • Use of jargon or technical terms appropriate for the intended audience

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