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Last updated Dec 20th, 2023


Transform your book into the best version of itself

Reedsy is home to thousands of experienced literary editors who can help writers at almost any point of their writing and publishing journeys. We offer five main services to help authors strengthen their manuscripts in advance of publication:

  • Editorial assessment
  • Book coaching
  • Developmental editing
  • Copy editing
  • Proofreading

In this section, we'll look at each one of these in detail. We'll also cover two additional services that can help authors prepare for publication:

  • Query letter review
  • Indexing

Editorial assessment

An editorial assessment is a service aimed at authors seeking guidance to help them progress their manuscripts. It is popular with writers whose manuscripts are still in the early stages of revision or who are seeking a more cost-friendly alternative to a full developmental edit. 

What can I expect from an editorial assessment?

For this service, the editor will read through the entire manuscript and provide:

  • A detailed letter with in-depth feedback concerning elements such as plot, characterization, structure, consistency, and style; 
  • Suggested next steps for revision and editing.

Unlike most other editorial services, there is no direct editing or annotation of the manuscript.

Here’s an example of what authors can expect from an editorial assessment:

Will an editorial assessment tell me if my book is commercially viable?

Yes. An editorial assessment will identify the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses, recommending revisions that will help you bring the book in line with market demands before you query or self-publish.

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Book Coaching

Book coaching on Reedsy is a service where experienced publishing professionals will mentor a writer towards a fixed writing goal. In most cases, this goal will be to complete a book manuscript.

A popular option for writers near the start of their journey, book coaching is often seen as a crash course in publishing. They can develop their writing skills “on the job,” with the guidance of an industry expert.

What can you expect from a writing coach?

Along with their specialty genres, each writing coach will have a unique teaching style, ranging from nurturing to brutally honest. No matter their approach, all Reedsy writing coaches offer: 

  • Video-call sessions to discuss your needs, develop your ideas, and build concepts in a creative environment;
  • Guidance and motivation as you develop and draft your project;
  • Practical feedback on your writing; and
  • Accountability to keep you on track.

Will my coach edit my manuscript?

A writing coach will not directly edit your manuscript, but they will provide guidance to help you get your manuscript ready for the final stages of editing. If your coach also offers editing on Reedsy, you can discuss continuing your work together after you’ve finished drafting.

Developmental editing

Developmental editing is a service that focuses on a manuscript’s ‘big picture’. It can involve clarifying a project’s concept, significantly restructuring its material, and delving into matters of writing craft (including plot, characterization, and pacing).

This service is popular with authors who have already revised their manuscripts and taken them as far as they can by themselves. 

What can I expect from a developmental edit?

In most cases, a developmental edit will prepare the author to substantially rewrite and revise their manuscript with a newfound focus. 

A developmental editor will also counsel the writer on their target audience and provide insight into industry standards and expectations for their genre.  

For this service, the editor will carefully read over the manuscript and provide:

  • A detailed report with in-depth feedback concerning elements such as plot, characterization, structure, consistency, and style;
  • A returned copy of the manuscript with comments and edits suggested through track changes; and
  • Suggested next steps.

Here’s a small example of what authors can expect from a developmental edit:

A developmental edit is a decisive step towards a book’s ultimate goal, whether the author’s aim is to query agents or self-publish the title. 

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Copy Editing

Copy editing takes place once a project’s structure has been locked down. It focuses on sentence-level edits to improve a manuscript’s readability. The job of a professional copy editor is to ensure that a book’s language is clear, and correct, and communicates precisely what the author intends.

What can I expect from a professional copy edit?

In addition to addressing spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, a professional copy editor will also ensure a manuscript’s tone and style remain consistent throughout. 

In this service, the editor will carefully read over the book and provide:

  • A returned copy of the manuscript with all edits recorded with track changes; and
  • A style sheet explaining tricky editorial decisions, along with a glossary of terms that proofreaders can use to double-check that spelling and capitalization are standardized.

Here’s an example of what authors can expect from a copy editor:

What’s the difference between line editing and copy editing?

In some circles, ‘line editing’ refers to editing with a greater emphasis on word choice and writing style, while ‘copy editing’ only involves correcting for grammar and spelling. On Reedsy, both these descriptions fall under the ‘copy editing’ umbrella. 

Editors offering this service are expected to improve both the style and accuracy of a manuscript (unless otherwise stated in their offer).

Can I get a developmental edit after my copy edit?

Copy editing should only take place after the structure of a book has been locked in place. If there is a chance that the manuscript will change in a substantive way, authors are encouraged to hold off on this part of the editing process. But if you’re ready to whip your prose into shape in preparation for the book’s next step, a copy editor will help to make your writing read like a dream. 

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Proofreading is the ultimate safety net. It gives authors the ability to publish with confidence that their books are free from spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and any other technical issues that can ruin a reader’s enjoyment.

Proofreading is often the very last stage of the editing process — after it, the manuscript is ready for formatting and publishing. It’s also worth noting that proofreaders often also work on typeset pages, to ensure no new errors have been introduced in the formatting stage. In the world of traditional publishing, it’s not unusual for there to be two rounds of proofreading, 

What can I expect from a professional proofread?

Proofreading requires a keen eye for detail and a systematic method for spotting every subtle error and possible formatting error.

Unless otherwise stated in the offer, Reedsy proofreaders will carefully read the finalized manuscript and provide:

  • A returned copy of the manuscript with all spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors identified and corrected in track changes;
  • A short report detailing the suggested changes.

Here’s an example of what authors can expect from a proofreader:

Do I need to get my manuscript proofread before I query agents?

In traditional publishing, the publisher will provide an editorial team to work on your book — including a proofreader. Your manuscript will likely undergo many changes before it finally hits the shelves, so it’s not usually worth proofreading a manuscript before querying. Literary agents will not expect any author to submit flawlessly edited manuscripts.

However, many first-time authors find it beneficial to work with developmental and copy editors in the lead-up to their querying process.

Learn more

Other editorial services

Query letter review

Some Reedsy editors provide a service to help authors improve their chances of capturing an agent or editor’s interest. The process involves reviewing a copy of the author’s query letter and making detailed recommendations on structure, tone, and content. 

Fiction and children’s book authors are recommended to have completed their manuscripts before seeking a query letter review. Nonfiction authors will only need a book proposal before querying.

What can I expect from a query letter review?

A query letter review will help the author strengthen their hook, hone a compelling and tightly-woven synopsis, select suitable comparable titles, and focus on relevant personal details that will bolster their chances for success.

Each editor will have a different approach to query letter reviews. Depending on the request and the freelancer, this service may include:

  • Detailed suggestions and edits of the author’s query letter (with track changes); and
  • A review/edit of the book’s sample pages, which may be somewhere between 10 and 50 pages [optional]

This is a small example of what writers can expect from a Reedsy query letter review:

Will a professional review guarantee that my query letter will be read?

No. A query letter review cannot guarantee that you’ll get representation (or even a response) from a literary agent. But in a highly competitive environment where agents receive hundreds or thousands of letters a year, a brilliant query letter and the advice of an experienced professional editor can be invaluable for standing out in the notorious slush pile.

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In nonfiction publishing, an index is the section at the end of a book which alphabetically lists the names, subjects, and topics covered in the book. It will also feature references to the pages on which these mentions occur. 

What does an indexer do?

A professional indexer will methodically read through a completed and fully formatted book to:

  • Identify which topics are worth indexing 
  • Catalogue mentions these topics across the entire work
  • Cross-reference and subcategorize these references within the index

The author can expect their professional indexer to deliver a completed index that meets the standards expected in trade publishing, which will ensure easy, comprehensive navigation for readers.

Does my book need an index?

Most library systems (and many booksellers) will only shelve nonfiction titles that include a professional-grade index. This makes indexing a popular service for authors who wish to see their books in libraries, schools, and bookstores.

Authors looking to sell their books exclusively through online retailers will often publish without an index.

Can I still change my book after indexing?

Due to the very nature of this work, you should try to ensure that your book is completed, formatted, and proofread before hiring an indexer. Any amendments made to the book after indexing may result in inaccuracies and the need for re-indexing — which is not ideal.

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