First-time writers know their manuscript will need book editing at some point. However, most writers don’t understand the different kinds of editing available and what each one means. Depending on the quality and polish of your book, you may need an extra level of editing. Be sure your book undergoes every possible form of editing it needs to ensure a final manuscript that’s as close to perfect as possible.

Developmental Book Editing

Developmental editing looks at the overall arc of your book. This is the “big picture” view that takes a deep dive into pacing, point of view, timeline, plots, subplots, characters, and dialogue. Developmental editing examines flow, continuity, consistency, and narrative. A developmental editor asks questions about slow pacing, the order of the chapters, any holes in the story, and character development issues. As a result, your manuscript is cleaner, tighter, and more enjoyable for readers.

Substantive Book Editing

Substantive editing focuses on your book’s presentation and organization. The editor looks at your book chapter-by-chapter. Substantive book editing isn’t about the big picture but the writing itself. Because it is done line-by-line, it’s sometimes referred to as line editing or copy editing. The editor focuses on a line-by-line reading of the manuscript. Because it is more detail-oriented, it’s usually done after the initial round of developmental editing. It focuses on sentence structure, syntax, and consistent punctuation. In general, substantive editing is more in-depth than copy editing. 


Proofreading is the final edit done on your manuscript. Proofreaders look for punctuation and spelling errors, typos, and mistakes such as regional dialect inconsistency. Although your book has already gone through at least two rounds of editing by this point, proofreading is critical. You are intimately familiar with your book. As a result, you are more likely to gloss over minor mistakes. Think of proofreading as “Spellcheck +”, while proofreading is the final stage of editing. Your manuscript is now ready to send to the publisher.

Dudley Court Press

Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a contemporary publishing company, we help thoughtful people write and publish books for all sorts of reasons. For more information about our Developmental Editing, Coaching, Consulting and Professional Self-Publishing options, please reach us at +1-520-329-2729 or

We’ve recently launched our latest program, Memoir Writing for Non-Writers. This comprehensive ten-week course helps you turn your memories into a compelling memoir.

– Gail Woodard