Line editing, as opposed to copyediting or developmental editing, is less about spelling and punctuation mistakes, and more about the language. I’d say it’s content editing in a technical manner, as the focus is to point out inconsistencies and flaws in pacing, and to suggest improvements in style and syntax. It comes before copyediting, but after the big picture elements—think of it as a funnel, starting with the biggest concepts about the book, and funnelling down to the smaller details.
An editor will read through the manuscript line-by-line, hence the name. It can also be known as stylistic editing because of its role in eliminating jargon, helping improve clarity, and polishing the writer’s language.
Editors Canada predicts that a stylistic/line editor can go through 1 to 3 pages in an hour, depending on whether a text is easy, standard, or complex, which plays a role in how much an editor will charge for this work.
Do You Need a Line Editor?
Since line editing comes after developmental editing, the manuscript will have already gone through a few rounds of revision. It’s recommended to go through all stages of editing for any book, but for those who want to budget their money, or for those who are unable to spend the extra cash on everything, knowing when to pick and choose is an important skill.
Talking to readers and other editors is the best way to decide. They’ve read the manuscript and, more often than not, they can tell when words feel out of place. Perhaps they won’t know every instance or how to fix it, but a reader can generally tell when something’s not right, and editors (even if they’re not specifically trained in line editing) have even more knowledge on the matter.
What Will Line Editing Cost?
Prices can be determined in a manner of ways, though most often is either a word rate or an hourly rate. For 1000 words, the rates can be anywhere from $20.00–60.00 CDN for line editing. That means, for an average 80,000-word novel, line editing will cost anywhere from $1600.00 to $4800.00. This cost, like anything else, depends on the experience and skills of the editor. An editor with 10 years of experience will cost more than one with only 2 years, and so on. The price also factors in the amount of time the editing will take, and any agreements the client and editor work out in their contract.
What Can You Expect from a Line Editor?
A line editor will provide substantive commentary in your document (either an MS Word or Google Document using Track Changes and Comments). In sentences, an editor can either point out a flaw and allow the writer to come up with a solution, or they can suggest a revision, but details will usually be worked out between the editor and their client.
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