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    Why does an author hire a line editor?

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    Line editing is a type of editing that is often overlooked. Mostly because writers don’t quite know what line editing is and how it can improve their book.

    Many writers are also worried that line editing would take away their voice. However, good line editors would never change the story so drastically that it wouldn’t sound like the author anymore.

    In this article, I’ll explain what line editing is, how it compares to developmental editing and copyediting, and where you can find professional line editing services (spoiler: I also offer line editing services).

    For previous articles in this series, see:

    why hire a line editor for your book
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    What is line editing?

    Line editing is literally line-by-line editing.

    Meaning: the editor will go through your work line by line to check for issues in flow, word choice, ambiguity, and the parallelity of the sentences.

    In addition, a line editor will look at the paragraph level to fix issues with flow within the paragraph. Often, there will be repetition issues here, where an author repeats a certain word too many times.

    Line editing will also make sure that your text will fit with your target audience.

    So, if you’re writing a book targeted to YA, you want to make sure they’ll understand what you’ve written. This often requires sentences to be clearer and with easier words and sentence structures than if you’d have an adult audience.

    They’ll also track inconsistencies. For instance, if a character has red hair on one page but black hair on the next.

    Line editing vs developmental editing

    So, how is line editing different from developmental editing?

    There is some overlap here. As said, they also track inconsistencies when it comes to characters and the plot.

    But unlike developmental editing, the focus of line editing is really on the paragraph and sentence level.

    Developmental editing is much more concerned with the larger picture. While a developmental editor often also looks at writing style within scenes and will likely mark sentences that don’t flow well, they don’t necessarily fix these issues.

    Line editors do.

    And what about altering an authors voice?

    Line editing does not mean changing the way the story is written.

    Words are only swapped out for other words if it doesn’t fit with the target audience or if it’s repeated too much throughout the sentence or paragraph. And, of course, if it’s clear the author meant to use a different word.

    Since there are generally more than one way to fix a sentence, line editors likely offer multiple solutions for a sentence or paragraph.

    And as with all things: all changes are suggestions.

    As the author, you’re never obliged to accept all the changes an editor makes. It’s still your book.

    Line editing vs copyediting

    Like line editing, copyediting also takes place on the sentence level.

    And they also have some overlap. Copyediting also takes the parallelity of verbs into account, and if the syntax of a sentence is wrong, it’s likely to have a disruptive flow as well.

    However, line editing focuses more on the stylistic choices and the meaning or purpose of the sentence. Copyediting focuses more on the actual grammar, spelling, and syntax.

    For a better understanding, let’s look at a line editing example.

    Ming’s daugther painted her room the color black-with-white stripes.

    Now, a line editor would focus on this:

    Ming’s daugther painted her room black-with-white stripes.

    As you can see, a line editor would remove “the color” because it’s redundant in the sentence. We don’t need that word to understand that black is a color.

    On the other hand, a copyeditor would edit this:

    Ming’s daughter painted her room the color black with white stripes.

    So here, a copy editor would fix the spelling mistake on daughter and would remove the dashes between black with white.

    Need professional line editing services?

    Finding a good line editor can be difficult. They need to understand your target audience and your style of writing.

    Of all editing services, line editing is one of the most expensive ones. This is because it’s a difficult skill that takes time to hone. Many line editors get acquainted with the language of a certain genre.

    For instance, an academic book requires a very different type of line editing than a fiction novel.

    But even between romance and fantasy there can be a difference in the kinds of words that are commonly used.

    That said, if you get a good line editor, it can make all the difference in the world. You’ll have clearer sentences and paragraphs that flow well. What you’ve tried to say in a paragraph is cut down to just one perfect sentence.

    It increases the readability of your book tenfold.

    To reduce costs, try and see if you can combine services. It’s not uncommon to have editors combine line editing with copyediting since both of these skill are on the sentence level.

    Before you go off and hire a line editor, make sure that you’re 100% happy with the story (it would be a shame if you get line editing and then delete and add chapters).

    In addition, scan through the document yourself beforehand to fix as many issues as possible.

    Another piece of advice: always ask for a sample edit.

    You want to make sure that the line editor is a good fit.

    If you want to find a line editor, I recommend either to google for a bit or search the Reedsy marketplace (you need to sign up, but the professionals there have been vetted for experience).

    And, of course, you can work with me!

    I offer line editing services, which you can read more about here.

    My specialties in fiction are Fantasy & Sci-Fi. For nonfiction, I specialise in self-help and psychology books.

    Don’t hesitate to send me an email with any questions you might have!

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