Your job as the author is to identify your book’s weaknesses and to pick the best editor for your book. For this reason, the below author problems and opinions are meant to help guide you to the publishing professionals who are most likely to help you strengthen your book. Remember, it is up to you as an author to evaluate your manuscript to decide the best course of action for your publishing journey.
Problem: Beta readers commented on areas of pacing needs. Ie: it felt rushed, it dragged, or it kept stopping and starting.
Problems with pacing are usually best directed to developmental editors. If you’re stuck on finding the flow of your book it could mean that there is too much detail, too much showing, or sections that would be better in other parts of your book.
Therefore developing your story with a developmental editor can help you diagnose and fix what your readers are trying to express. Also, they can help you to build your story so that it improves reader experience.
Conversely, a line editor may be a good choice if you’re sure story doesn’t need developmental edits. However, my recommendation would be to interview both types of editors to find your editing match. An editor who offers both services could be a productive option for your book as well.
Problem: Commas make no sense, And I have no idea what American English versus British English is.
You want a copyeditor.
A copyeditor looks at all the technical sides of language. Copyediting is ideal for authors who (for good reason) don’t know where the commas go, have no idea what a semicolon is for, and have no idea why on earth people even use a colon outside of a clock.
A copyeditor streamlines your punctuation, adopts authorial style, and ensures a grammatically accurate book. Language grows and changes. Hence why a copyeditor’s job is stay up to date on the nuances and changes in grammar and language.
Problem: My characters all sound the same.
Developmental editors or line editors will help you with this.
First, you could seek out a line editor, the editor who focuses on stylistic language choices. If you think you have strong characters, but you’re having a hard time distinguishing their voices stylistically, go with a line editor.
Second, you could seek out a developmental editor. A lack of distinct voices could be a sign you’re lacking some character development. Furthermore, your story may need more structure to fill in character gaps. A developmental editor will help you with building your characters so they feel real when readers encounter them.
Third, you could seek an editor that provides both services as a package deal. Many freelance editors offer packages to better serve authors who are looking to stay within a budget and get the most bang for their buck.
Problem: My word count is too high or too low.
Line editors or copyeditors are your go-to for word count problems. Genre standards dictate ideal word counts. They provide good boundaries for authors to make sure they’re not straying too far from reader expectations.
First, they’re going to cut extraneous details, redundancies, and repetition. A line editor is going to have more suggestions on how to improve these. Whereas a copyeditor could edge on the side of caution and not cut too much.
Second, if you’re looking to increase word count, both are going to offer suggestions of places where your language is too vague. This feedback gives perspective on where brevity has lead to a lack of understanding. It could also lead to inspiration for more detailed scenes and reader engagement.
Problem: I don’t know what is wrong with my manuscript.
This problem is more about getting to know your book and the teams that aid authors in publishing their books. Start with getting low-cost feedback from beta readers, critique partners, or alpha readers.
If you have done this, go through their feedback and see if there are any common threads. Keep in mind, where there’s smoke there’s fire. Therefore if multiple readers picked up on something there is likely more of it. Let’s say you have addressed those fires, now what?
While you can use that feedback to see what is left to edit. Maybe it’s time to reach out to a few types of professional editors. In effect, you likely need an editor who offers packages with mixed editing services to make your book as strong as possible.
Help! My Problem isn’t listed on here.
To clarify, this is not an exhaustive list of problems that authors have. Nor is it all of the ways in which professional editors can help them. In other words, be upfront and honest with your editor about any questions you have or any known problems with your book. Don’t expect your editor to see the problems you see or to know what you want edited if you haven’t expressed it directly. Also, be sure to do your homework whenever you’re hiring someone. Above all, make sure what they offer is what you’re looking for by requesting sample edits, references, or both.