Notes from Line Editing vs. Copy Editing at Westercon


Line Editing vs. Copy Editing
S.A. Bolich
Muffy Morrigan
iMage
Carole Parker
Mike Shepard Moscoe
  • In general, money goes to the author, not from the author.
  • But if you are indie published, you are the publisher. Then there are expenses, including editing.
  • Line editing
    • grammar errors, 
  • Story editing
    • plot holes, characters acting out of character.
  • Story editing can improve a book, not just fix errors.
  • Suggested rewrites… sometimes writers don’t make the exact change, but get what the error is, and address it another way.
  • One of the drawbacks of indie publishing is that not everyone has an editor.
  • If you’re going to do an independent publication, you still have to treat it as a traditional house would. You need a story editor, you need a line editor.
  • “This is a great story. Can you rewrite it from third person POV?”
    • Seemed like crazy feedback. But I did it. 
    • It became so much more powerful. Better story, grew wordcount to appropriate length.
  • Muffy: 
    • Have an amazing editor. Every suggestion she’s ever made has made the book better.
    • Have done both line editing and story editing.
    • story editing should check continuity (facts remain constant in the book, e.g. dead in scene 3 is still dead in scene 9) and historical/world accuracy.
  • “It only needs a light edit” --> it’s never true.
  • “fix it” --> the key words for story editing
    • sometimes it only takes two sentences to fix a major story element. can change “out of character” to “in character”.
    • the key is to tell a writer that something needs fixing, not how to fix it.
  • you want your first readers to give you this kind of feedback.
  • Q: How do you find an editor?
    • First, do the best you can with a writing group, or by reading Strunk & White, by using first readers -- to get it in the best shape possible. Otherwise you can spend a fortune on your editor.
    • Second, editors should give you references and have credentials. Anyone can call themselves an editor.
    • Third, go to cons, and take note of the names of panelists. 
  • As writers, we all have a tick. using the word “just” or “a little”. editors will come back and say “you need to remove 75% of ‘justs’”. this is good feedback.
  • When you’re shopping around for an editor, you need to ask what they read and work in. You need to find someone literate with your genre.
  • Have more than one first reader, and do them serially:
    • first one reads for story edits.
    • later ones receive the fixed version, confirming that story edits worked and now nit-picking.
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