What is Line Editing?
For any person who has no connection with printing business, EDITING is a task only and all editing jobs are homogeneous in nature. However, that is not the case in real world. Editing is too big an area – and a manuscript has to go through different forms of editing before it takes shape of a book to hit the market. Line editing ensures that the sentences in a book are written in the best possible way. A line editor combs through the manuscript thoroughly, improves the clarity of writing with necessary changes in the sentences keeping the author’s flow of writing and his style in mind, to that ensure the flow and continuity doesn’t get affected. He reads the manuscript line by line to ensure the writing is clear and without any ambiguity, corrects syntax if needed, to ensure the writing moves in a similar pace and logical flow. A line editor directly communicates with the author to know about the intent of the author- what the author has mentioned in the manuscript, whether there is a synergy between his thoughts and writing and resolves dispute. He also explain the author about the changes that has been incorporated in the manuscript and takes an approval from the author on the changes.
Line Editing vs Copy Editing
A manuscript goes through different stages of editing before it takes shape of a book and reaches the reader. In these stages, the line editing comes first and then the copy editing. Line editing is not only about correcting the inconsistencies and the grammatical mistakes- it looks into the language as well and if needed, restructure the sentences to make them more compelling and adds to the flow of writing. Objective of line editing is to provide the language a facelift correcting the words, phrases, monotony and improve the pace of the writing. Line editing doesn’t focus on the loopholes in the plot or on character development- this line of editing works as a reader’s advocate and not on marketability of the book. Whereas the copy editing entails more on the mechanical side of the writing like punctuations, spellings, syntax etc. A copy writer primarily ensures the language in the manuscript follow the standard rules of the language the manuscript is written in and focuses on the correctness, clarity, coherency and consistency as well as grammar, usage etc.
Line editing vs Developmental Editing
Line editing looks into each line of the manuscript and does the necessarily changes with regard to construction of sentences, incorporate changes wherever necessary and check on the words and the flow of the manuscript. Line edit is not concerned on the plot or the betterment of the characters mentioned in the manuscript. However, Development Editing looks at the bigger picture regarding the book, focusing on the organization and structure thereby helping the author on reducing the inconsistency and giving the right shape to the story. It checks on the concept, logical connections in the plot and the character developments in the story. Line edit checks on the clarity of the sentences, unwanted repetitions, factual errors and typographical mistakes. Whereas development edit checks on the soundness of the concept, consistency of the plot and also judge whether the characters mentioned in the book are good enough or any additions or alterations needed for the betterment of the story. Hence it often happen when the writing is in nascent stage and the author only has the idea for the book or a rough outline of the story.
How to Line Edit
I shall suggest a line editor to ask few questions to himself while he is on the job- the answer to these questions shall help him to line edit successfully. He has to identify the tone of a passage and check the words that has been used in the manuscript- whether those words successfully evoke that tone. The message put across through the passage is ambiguous or candid enough for the readers to understand and enjoy. Along with that, he has to check whether there are any extra words used- if replacing some of them better the passage, a line editor won’t hesitate to replace them. It is also important for the line editor to check whether the language is superfluous- there is a natural flow of sentences from one to the next or there is a jerk. Unnecessary paragraphs, sentences, even words can disrupt the flow and impact the reading experience. The ultimate goal being the reader’s comfort, it is wise to ensure there is a clarity in writing and if some changes are needed to be incorporated for this reason, a prudent line editor shall never hesitate to do so. He shall also correct the misconstrued sentences and for that shall re-do the paragraphing if needed. All authors think of their novel to be best and may have reservations in changing the languages. It is the line editor who reads the manuscript and has no prejudice- and hence doesn’t have any qualm in incorporating changes, removing repetitions, replace weak verbs for the betterment of the manuscript and the success of the book.
Copyedit is the process of checking mistakes, inconsistencies and repetition and thereafter arriving on the final content with application of consistency to the language and formatting. Copyedit is a check before being sent for designing and layout- hence the check should be to ensure that chapters and sections matching the list of contents, numbered lists and chapters are sequential, illustrations provided match with the text content, checking if any language is non-inclusive or problematic, correcting errors and inconsistencies with respect to punctuation, grammar, style and usage, ensuring consistency in regard to use of italics, bold and capital letters. A good copyeditor is prompt in identifying any discrepancy or ambiguity in the manuscript.
The main job of a publishing house is find authors and their manuscripts which they produce and publish into books. The Traditional Publishing Houses source manuscripts and with their expertise on trends and capability of gauging the market climate, they select the marketable manuscripts and do the needful to generate the maximum sale. They design, edit the manuscript and turn it into a book and thereafter promote and sell them. They pay the authors for the book in form of royalty- where the house owns the book and the author only get a cut of the earning. Here, the author writes the manuscript, determine the genre and category of his manuscript, prepare the submission material in the form of synopsis/sample, hunt for a publisher and relentlessly work till he gets one and finally succumbs to the pressure of publisher and agree on a minimum royalty percentage ranging from 5% to 10%. The other alternative is Self-Publishing, where the author can have the creative control and business control on his books and earn a much higher percentage of royalty- which can be as high as 50%!