What type of editing could benefit your readers?
There are four levels of editing that a manuscript goes through: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Keep in mind that all manuscripts don't necessarily need all levels of editing, so I do recommend a manuscript evaluation before you start the actual editing process. Beta reading is also a valuable tool to gauge interest in your story.
Beta Read—A beta read is not an edit—think of it like a test drive for your book. You might find that multiple beta readers can help you determine things like this: Does your story hook the reader from start; does it hold the reader's attention through to the end? Are your characters relatable? Are there sections that are unclear? Are there sections that should be left out or could be added? Multiple beta readers often provide authors with valuable feedback that might better prepare your manuscript for evaluation.
Manuscript Evaluation—Reading your entire manuscript allows me to identify any potential issues with your story, and provide you with my professional advice on how to address things like plot and story line, theme and structure, conflict and tension, character development, story continuity, point of view/voice, and dialogue and pacing.
Developmental Edit— A developmental edit addresses the big picture. Getting it right provides you with a solid infrastructure on which to build your story. Your story line is built on a plot curve curve, or you can think of it as a narrative arc. A good story has a plot supported by a clear theme, an exposition, rising action, a pinnacle, falling action, and a resolution. It's important you make the theme crystal clear early on, and make sure that your main character has changed in some way by the end of the story. Click to learn more about the elements of a developmental edit.
Line Edit—A line edit focuses on use of language to communicate your story to your readers. It's purpose is not to identify errors, rather, to ensure clear, fluid language that is pleasurable to read. I will draw your attention to things like overused or extraneous words or sentences, run-on sentences, redundancy, loose dialogue, scene transitions, tone, phrasing, consistency, and other tweaks to help your manuscript sing.
Copy Edit—Misspellings, repeated words (the-the), homonyms (book-book, quote-quote), homophones (then-than, new-knew, flew-flu). . . . Sometimes it's really hard to see the forest through the trees when you've spent as much quality time with your words as you have.
Proof—The minutia—capitalization, punctuation, spacing—things that will make you cringe if you see it in print, and potentially discourage publishers and readers. Proofreading is the last step prior to self-publishing or searching for an agent.