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Professional Edit Types Explained by Briana Morgan

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I’m very excited about today’s guest post, because it answers a question many new writers face: Why are there so many different editing options, and which one do I need? What do I pay for?

When I first looked into getting an editor for Rise of the Sparrows, I had no idea what the difference between a line editor and a copy editor was, and several other writers I asked were just as confused. Briana Mae Morgan is my editor, and she’s offered to clear things up! We hope that this post will answer your questions, but if there’s anything else you’d like to know ask away! 🙂

Thank you so much for popping in, Briana. So, what are the different kinds of editing services writers can get?

What Are the Three Different Levels of Edits?

Editors are important. Writers of every category, genre, or skill level can benefit from using an editor. If you choose a traditional publishing path, you won’t need to worry about booking an editor, as that will be taken care of for you. However, if you’re self-publishing, you should try to find a freelance editor.

At some point, you’ll also need to decide which type of editing to pay for. Confused? So are a lot of my clients. That’s okay! Here’s a quick breakdown of the three most common types of editing, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.


In a developmental edit, an editor looks to fix big-picture issues, such as story structure, plot, pacing, dialogue, characters, and more. During a developmental edit, an editor isn’t concerned with things like sentence variation, flow, or spelling and grammar. Instead, the focus is on how the piece works as a whole.  Does the plot make sense? Are the characters fully formed and relatable? Does the dialogue sound realistic?

I can’t speak for other editors, but for me, if a client pays for a developmental edit, I also include a line edit and a copy edit as part of the deal.


Line editing is a little more in-depth than developmental editing. At this stage, and editor combs through the manuscript with a careful eye, paying special attention to any parts that read strangely or are hard to understand. In a line edit, the focus is on issues at a sentence and paragraph level. Are there many clichés? What’s the best word choice? How many sentences or paragraphs start the same way? How can that be changed?

Like a developmental edit, when I do a line edit, I also include a complimentary copy edit/proofread.


The copy edit or proofread is what most people think of when they hear the word editing. At this stage, an editor picks through every last word of the piece, double-checking the spelling, punctuation, and grammar. This type of edit is typically performed on a piece that has been edited at least once and is (more or less) ready for publication.

No matter what type of writing you do or what stage of the publication process you’re in, it’s likely that at some point, you’re going to need an editor. Whether you choose a developmental edit, a line edit, or a proofread, it’s important to know the benefits and the limitations of each. The next time you go to book an editor, hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of everything that is involved.

Thanks for hosting me, Sarina!

Thank you for taking the time to explain everything! ^-^ If you’d like to get in touch with Briana, you can do so via her twitter or via her website.

Has this answered your questions? Is there anything else you’d like to know about what an editor can do for you? Grab a cookie and don’t be shy – we’ll do our best to answer 🙂


For all other guest posts, take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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  1. Kathryn Evans Kathryn Evans

    This is a fab post – will share to the SCBWI page – thank you!

    • Thank you! I hoped it would make things easier for first-time writers 🙂
      (pardon my ignorance – what’s SCBWI?)

  2. Great post! Thanks for the clarification 🙂 It’s something I’ve been looking into more recently!
    Thanks Sarina & Briana for taking the time to share <3

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