The editing process isn't about determining whether or not you are a good writer. Think of it as spring cleaning. An editor dives into your work and clears out all the junk and bad habits so that your house is livable. That stack of pizza boxes that's been blocking the television? Gone. So, as you approach this step don't fear the dreaded red pen. Think to yourself: the more red, the better. Because once it's all said and done your writing is going to shine!
Keeping with the cleaning metaphor, think of the copyeditor as Mrs. Doubtfire. She's walking around the living room with a white glove, whisking her fingers across every surface, determined to find dust. She looks behind the refrigerator, under the sofa, and in dark corners that you forgot existed. The copyeditor's job is to nitpick. She focuses on the minutia of writing. She's not going to remodel anything. You won't come home to find you now have an extra bedroom but you will be able to eat off the floor. Here's a basic list of what a copyeditor focuses on:
Complicated sentence structure or wordiness
Overused words and phrases
Spelling and grammar errors that spell check misses
The narrator's (or character's) voice is consistent throughout the novel
And much more
The role of story editor is sometimes played by very skilled beta readers, agents, and publishers. They usually get first crack at the writer's manuscript and their job is to hone in on the big picture. For writers who like to debate, this is where your tails will start wagging. Because story editors will come into the house and rearrange your furniture. They'll suggest adding an addition over the garage or turning your basement into an in-law suite. They couldn't care less that you suck at spelling. Their job is to vet the reader's journey. They focus on:
Flushing out character arcs
Filling any plot holes
Keeping the dialogue snappy (or poignant)
Keeping the exposition snappy (or poignant)
Making sure the beginning hooks the reader's interest
Making sure the ending leaves the reader satisfied
Making sure the reader doesn't get lost on the way to the climax
Making sure each scene (and chapter) is necessary to move the plot forward
Making sure the protagonist's motivations are clear
Crafting clear and vivid descriptions
And a lot more
It's not uncommon for story editors to start working with a writer before the manuscript is finished. If you're having a hard time getting through the third act or you don't know where to start or you're struggling with outlining your novel, then this service is a good idea. The end result is a tighter story with that I-can't-put-it-down effect.
Send us an email, telling us which kind of editing you're interested in, and attach a document with either (a) the first 500 words of your novel or (b) a tentative outline of the first act. We'll give you feedback for free!