The internet is afloat in advice about the different types of editing your book could use: developmental editing to optimize the story, line editing to polish the writing, copy editing to steer the usage and style, proofreading to catch remaining errors … I’ve got one of those articles on the types of editing on my site, too.
The problem is that most people assume the right editing package—the “best” one—means as much spit and polish as they can afford. They think the best editing is all the editing they can afford and then some.
But that’s not the way it works. The right editing approach for your book is all about your personal publishing goals.
If you can afford a good editor who can give your manuscript the works, of course, your book will almost certainly emerge the better for it. I encourage new authors who are still learning the ropes of storytelling, writing, querying, and selling books to give themselves as many opportunities to learn and improve as they can. But full edits covering every stage of the manuscript aren’t practical for every author and every budget.
How then do you know what your book needs and what it can do without? The answer lies in all the decisions you make before editing. Here’s what to decide—and what not to decide—before deciding on professional editing.