Line Edit or Proofread

JAAnastasio

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 11, 2023
Messages
91
Reaction score
146
Location
NYC
Website
josephanastasio.com
Hey y'all

So I've got one pressing question in my brain - when to move onto getting a proofreader and starting to query.

I finished a first draft of my novel, and had eight beta readers run through it. No one really tore it apart, nearly all enjoyed it to some degree-but some pointed out things that desperately needed to be added or cut, so I made a host of revisions. To me it feels like a strong book now but I'm 100% bias. I'm wondering if I need a line editor or just to get it proofread and get the querying show on the road...

I'm a touch confused on this because I've definitely overdone it watching authortubers talk about this stuff and a bunch just casually talk about how everyone needs a line editor before publishing with no regard for how expensive that is. If you find a trad publisher, isn't a line edit something they do?

(Hopefully this is the right forum for this question)

-Joe
 

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
20,764
Reaction score
24,927
Location
Aotearoa
Hey y'all

So I've got one pressing question in my brain - when to move onto getting a proofreader and starting to query.

I finished a first draft of my novel, and had eight beta readers run through it. No one really tore it apart, nearly all enjoyed it to some degree-but some pointed out things that desperately needed to be added or cut, so I made a host of revisions. To me it feels like a strong book now but I'm 100% bias. I'm wondering if I need a line editor or just to get it proofread and get the querying show on the road...

I'm a touch confused on this because I've definitely overdone it watching authortubers talk about this stuff and a bunch just casually talk about how everyone needs a line editor before publishing with no regard for how expensive that is. If you find a trad publisher, isn't a line edit something they do?

(Hopefully this is the right forum for this question)

-Joe
Line editing and proofreading are two different things/skill sets.

A large trade publisher will have staff who provide a structural edit if needed, then a line editor, then a proofreader. A small press may be more limited in terms of staff numbers (or abilities); the smaller the press, the less editing assistance is available. People who self-publish generally are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and will know what kind of editor(s) they need to hire.

Professional structural editors, line editors, and proofreaders are expensive, yes. Trade publishers invest many, many, many thousands of dollars into editing the books they acquire, just as they do layout, cover art, printing, marketing, and distribution. It may or may not be feasible for a self-publishing author to do the same, and it may or may not be needed; it depends on what professional skills the author possesses. Frex, someone with impeccable English may not need a proofreader; somebody who'd dyslexic almost certainly will.
 

Nether

is going back to magic school
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
6,306
Reaction score
13,013
Location
New England
Assuming you line-edited and proofed it before it went to betas and you made no changes -- and you feel 100% confident -- then it's probably time to query.

If you land an agent, they will have notes and you're almost certainly going to have to make some edits, followed by line edits, followed by more proofreading. And then if you get a publisher, they'll also have notes meaning you're going to make edits, followed by line edits, followed by proofreading. And then, if they're cool with that, it goes to their employees for line edits, proofreading, etc.

Unless you aren't confident in your work, it's probably not worth paying people to line edit or proofread (provided you're trying to trade-pub). And even if you aren't confident, it might not be worth it.

I'm a touch confused on this because I've definitely overdone it watching authortubers talk about this stuff and a bunch just casually talk about how everyone needs a line editor before publishing with no regard for how expensive that is. If you find a trad publisher, isn't a line edit something they do?

Keep in mind that a lot of authortubers are self-pubbed. Their process will be different as a result.
 

JAAnastasio

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 11, 2023
Messages
91
Reaction score
146
Location
NYC
Website
josephanastasio.com
Thank you both for this perspective. I was thinking some of this but reeeaaaallly need to hear it from someone else. I suppose I've got a touch of imposter syndrome despite all the non-fiction publishing I've done (where the smaller trad publishers I worked with have never bothered with a line edit).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Elenitsa

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
20,764
Reaction score
24,927
Location
Aotearoa
Thank you both for this perspective. I was thinking some of this but reeeaaaallly need to hear it from someone else. I suppose I've got a touch of imposter syndrome despite all the non-fiction publishing I've done (where the smaller trad publishers I worked with have never bothered with a line edit).
Yeah, non-fiction's a bit of a different beast. Line editing is less likely to happen because it's expected that the author is writing from a position of authority, and a small press that puts out reference texts in, say, a range of science fields isn't going to have specialists available who can fact-check and say No that chemical equation is wrong and I think you've got these two types of anaemia mixed up and That star is in the wrong galaxy and the first calculator wasn't actually invented in that year and....

Line-editing in fiction is more about ensuring voice is consistent, clearing up sentence strucure that may mislead the reader, ensuring a character's eye colour or name spelling doesn't change halfway through the manuscript, noting that even the most experienced riders riding top notch endurance horses over the easiest terrain in the best weather are not going to be able to cover six hundred miles in a day, flagging repetitive descriptions, keeping track of days of the weeks or seasons of the year, etc.
 

JAAnastasio

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 11, 2023
Messages
91
Reaction score
146
Location
NYC
Website
josephanastasio.com
Line-editing in fiction is more about ensuring voice is consistent, clearing up sentence strucure that may mislead the reader, ensuring a character's eye colour or name spelling doesn't change halfway through the manuscript, noting that even the most experienced riders riding top notch endurance horses over the easiest terrain in the best weather are not going to be able to cover six hundred miles in a day, flagging repetitive descriptions, keeping track of days of the weeks or seasons of the year, etc.
Makes total sense. I'm relieved that I obsessed over those details. I caught myself in the first draft changing the color of a car and the spelling of a characters name here and there.