What Types of Book Edits are There?

When looking to get your book edited, it’s important to know what types of book edits are out there so you can decide the best course of action for your manuscript. Here’s a comprehensive guide on the different types of edits available, when you should pursue those edits, and the different paths you can take.

Why is editing important?

If you’re planning on self-publishing your book(s), you have probably given the advice to invest in a professional editor. Those authors are 100% right. Hiring a professional editor is one of the most important things you can do for your book and your career. It may seem like a promising idea at first to publish your book and then hire an editor once you’ve grown your fan base. However, if you publish your book before getting a professional edit, any negative reviews mentioning poor edits and lots of typos will follow the book for the rest of its life. Unless you completely un-publish the book, re-title it, and get a new cover, the reviews will always be there. Instead of risking your reputation, it’s best to find an editor you know and trust from the beginning. When you have a good relationship with your editor, you can trust they will edit your book to be the best it can be.

What types of book edits are there?

There are four distinct types of edits, though some say there are only three. These edits are developmental edits, copy edits, line edits, and proofreading. Each one of these edits is important in its own way and should have its own role in the editing path. You need to put time and/or money into the process and it’s up to you to determine what you’re going to spend where.

You need to put time and/or money into the process and it’s up to you to determine what you’re going to spend where. Click To Tweet

Developmental Edits

A developmental edit is the most influential edit your book will need. This edit looks at the plot and structure of your novel. Your editor will look at the manuscript for the flow of the narrative, plot holes, inconsistencies in the rules of the world, believability of the story, and so much more. This is the very first edit your manuscript should receive. This edit will also be the longest, as your editor will read through your manuscript two to three or more times. While there are some actions you can take in the prepping stage to help the developmental edit be less stressful, you will still want to take the time to have a developmental edit of your book.

Copy Edits

Copy edits are what many people think of when they picture edits. A copy edit looks at your manuscript from a more in-depth place than the developmental edit. Your editor will go through the book line-by-line and look for consistency in your writing style, do some light fact-checking, grammatical errors, and may point out things like potential plot issues or troublesome sentences. A copy editor focuses on the copy of your book. This is a very structured type of edit that some people think you can use editing software in place of an editor. While there are things an editing software can catch, there are plenty of things an editing software can miss. The English language has far too many rules for even the most advanced editing software to comprehend. While it’s not a bad idea to run your manuscript through Grammarly or ProWritingAid, it should never replace the help of a professional editor. Even editors should hire an editor to prevent easily avoidable mistakes from slipping through.

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Line Edits

I like to think of line edits as the poetry of editing. These edits are like copy edits in the fact that line edits focus on the story line-by-line. However, instead of looking at the manuscript from a more structural point of view, a line edit looks at how the words flow together and the reading experience for your reader. I’m sure we’ve all read a book or story where the sentences might be grammatically correct, but it sounds like a bot wrote it after someone forced it to read a thousand romance novels. A line editor combs through your manuscript and makes sure the words flow together so the reader is never pulled out of the story by clunky sentences. There are ways you can make sure your book is written in a natural-sounding way, such as reading it aloud to yourself or having a program read it to you, but even then, it can be easy to miss something in a longer piece of work when you’re the one who wrote it.


Proofreading is the last edit your book needs to go through before publication. You should do this edit on the fully formatted version of the manuscript, either in a Kindle reader, as a PDF, or in a proof copy. This edit, or readthrough, looks at the formatting of the book, checks for extra spaces between words, and catches misspelled words that spellcheck would miss, such as form instead of from and shell instead of she’ll. While this sort of editing is the “icing on the cake” so to speak, it’s an edit that writers often skip because the author either believes their copy editor caught all the mistakes, or they’re too tired to read through their story for the fifth, sixth, seventh, or nth time. However, skipping the proofread can leave in little errors caused by formatting and there are many readers who will stop reading a book after the fifth typo.

What types of book edits does my manuscript need?

Now that you understand the type of book edits your book can go through, you may be wondering which one you need. The short answer? All of them. A book needs to go through all steps of the editing process to make the book the best it can be. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to hire an editor for every edit. What? An editor saying I don’t need an editor? Hear me out. Being an editor and an indie author, I know how expensive it is to get a book professionally edited. Because of that, there are a few different tips and tricks I recommend to my clients to save them money on the edits.

  • Find a critique partner or two – Finding a critique partner to work with is one of the best ways you can save money on edits. A critique partner is someone you trade manuscripts with to get another writer’s opinion on the story and point out any issues with the plot or characters you may have missed. There’s no money involved when working with a critique partner, but there is a lot of time, so you’ll want to plan for that.
  • Employing beta readers – Beta readers are the next thing you can do to save money on an editor. Beta readers are like critique partners in that they read through your manuscript and give suggestions. However, unlike critique partners, beta readers don’t always have a background in writing, so they need guidance with you supplying questions after every couple of chapters. Beta readers are usually free but take time, requiring you to send chunks of your manuscript to betas and collect and organize their feedback. There are also professional beta readers you can hire to read your manuscript and give you feedback, just keep in mind they do cost money and you’ll want to hire several to get a range of reader opinions.
  • Editing software – As mentioned before, there are many editing software companies out there that can help you edit your manuscript for most of the basic edits. Remember, editing software doesn’t fully replace a copy editor, but it can help polish your manuscript so you’re not paying extra to have an editor work on a manuscript in need of more love.
  • Proofreading Squad – Having a group of friends and family members read your book is a terrific way to prevent typos from slipping through. You’ll want to ask people that are good with grammar and it’s common courtesy to give them a free copy of your book for their help.

Are you ready for an editor?

So, now you know the different types of book edits, how do you know if you’re ready for editing? While there are several indicators to help you determine whether you’re ready for an editor, you’re the only one that can truly answer that question. If you’re worried about reading the comments your editor leaves, let them know ahead of time. Editors aren’t “out to get you” and don’t want to make you feel bad about your writing. We want your book to be the best it can be, and we want you to feel more confident in your writing after working with us. Feel free to reach out to an editor and ask for a sample edit or ask them questions.

No one can tell you what to do with your book, it’s up to you to decide on the path you’ll take. If you have any questions about book editing or the writing journey, feel free to reach out to me either here or on my Instagram. Be sure to share this article with your friends and check out my editing services if you’re ready to make your book the best it can be.