ed-i-tor \'eded-u(r)\ n -s [LL, publisher, fr. L editus] 1. a: one who revises, corrects or arranges the work of others for publication
My strength and most of my work is line and substantive editing —that is, reviewing a manuscript with an ear to style, voice, and readability, and an eye for redundancy, wordiness, and organization— correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax, diction, usage, and inconsistency along the way.
Equally important are what I expressly do not and cannot offer: magic fixes, turning a manuscript into a bestseller, recommending agents, promising that an agent will read your manuscript, and ensuring publication. An editor is an editor and an agent is an agent, and never the twain shall meet.
As I see it, the most important aspect of editing is focus. You don't want a rewrite when what's needed is a copy edit. You don't want the words meddled with when it's the last minute and the idea is to check for embarrassing outright errors. And so on. If I address one level of editing when I'm responsible for another, I can't do either properly.
Every edit level needs another afterward (until that final proofread), someone else to come behind with a careful other pair of eyes. Thinking otherwise is at best wishful.
What's important is being clear at the start of a project about what the manuscript needs and how aggressively the editor should edit. The decision is yours as the client, not mine as the editor.
Checking and correcting punctuation, spelling, agreement, capitalization, and word use. Appropriate after all edits are complete, just before going to press.
Eliminating incorrect or unclear grammar, word choice, factual inconsistencies, syntax and inconsistent style. Appropriate when the content has been finalized.
Attending to style, flow, and voice while eliminating grammatical error and logical inconsistencies. Appropriate when the substance is finalized.
Substantive editing (Content editing)
Analyzing and editing for content, structure, completeness, and tone. Determining what should be added, developed, or deleted to enhance the manuscript. Appropriate to ensure that the audience is addressed appropriately.
Working with the author during the formative stages of a manuscript. Outlining the fundamental structure, identifying the voice of the narration, ensuring logical development of content, and establishing an appropriate depth and extent of topic coverage.
Reworking existing material, whether from a substantive or stylistic angle. Appropriate when emphasis, voice, style, or focus is not directed to the intended readers.
Attending to stylistic nuances and literal implications of words and phrases in material in which the technical accuracy of the translation is certain. Involves continued dialog with client fluent in the original language.