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The Phases of Editing



You've finished your rough draft! Now what?

Here's a quick guide to the editing process. For more detailed info about any of these stages, contact me here.



Beta Reading

Developmental Editing (also called Structural, Content, or Constantive Editing)

More Beta Reading

Line Editing

Copy Editing


It is important to note that proofreading is distinct from editing. Editing involves a broader and more comprehensive review of the content, including aspects such as organization, clarity, tone, and overall effectiveness. Proofreading, on the other hand, is the final step that focuses specifically on fine-tuning the technical accuracy and correctness of the written material.


Consider finding a few beta readers if you haven't already. Preferably people who are familiar with memoir or with your theme/subject. I'd avoid family and friends as they often lack the specific expertise, and they can be biased in your favour - unless you want someone to read for accuracy of, for example, the setting, if they were there at the time you're writing about. Beta Readers pick up any gaps or inconsistencies while you're looking for the right editor. If you're battling to find beta readers, try here (The Writing Gals). There are many guys in the group now; it's not just gals I'm sure there are also other groups out there - just make sure they're well-recommended. When the beta readers are done, decide where their feedback is appropriate, and make some changes (always be open to changes).

When you're done with any self-editing, run the manuscript through a grammar checker of some kind - free ones are fine; it's going to be professionally edited.

If you haven't already, figure out what kind of editing you need!! Developmental editing is for when it needs big-picture changes, making sure it's ready to go wrt structure, themes, pacing, settings, development of characters (even in memoir), chapter breaks and order, and so on. It could involve rewrites. Your beta readers will have given you an idea of whether this level of attention is needed. Line editing is done at a paragraph level. Smoothing out awkward paragraph and sentence structure, fixing wordiness, and getting rid of redundancy, unimportant information, and cliches. Ensuring the best use of words for the tone and context, and making language quickly and easily understood, all while preserving your voice - the way you write that's unique to you. Copy editing is for grammar, word usage, consistency issues, and punctuation. Proofreading is the final check for spelling, typos, and punctuation.

Now think about what you can pay! Good editing doesn't come cheap, and honestly, it's an expense that's important to your book's future, so well worth it, but it doesn't have to be exorbitant. Can you do all the editing you want immediately, or should you do it over a few months, delaying your launch in favour of a more finished result in a more affordable time frame?

Many editors are booked weeks or months in advance, so bear that in mind!

Then, get recommendations for editors, like you're doing here. Consider people the SPSers have used; check out the SPS Rolodex. Reedsy is good, too. Find out if the editors you're looking at have a professional presence - websites, Facebook pages, references. In other words, are they well-established? If possible, get sample edits from several people in your price range. Most editors I know do these for free - anything between 200 words and 1,000. See how they work, how they communicate with you, do they keep to agreed timeframes, do they respond quickly, and do you feel the two of you could have a good working relationship? Whittle it down, and you're ready to go 

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