Ultimately, each kind of editing can mean different things to different editors. But even when you have the lines between the various types of editing more clearly defined, certain styles of editing can bleed over between types and others cannot. It all depends on timing and the needs of the manuscript or publishing house.
I sat next to a woman on a cross-country flight who read Fifty Shades of Grey from cover to cover with such rapt attention that she didn’t respond to the flight attendant. When we landed, the woman looked confused and not too happy to step back into real life. She collected her things with the glazed, glassy eyes of the fictive spell.
Although editing might seem straightforward, there is a greater difference between traditional editing done for novels and written work than editing for comics than one might think.
The compilation edit is unique to the operations of our teaching press, but coordinating this type of edit has been an invaluable learning experience for me as an editing professional. Editorial work is often more of a flexible art than a task that follows a standard procedure, as there are many ways to work with an author to bring out the best in their work.
Developmental editors get to tinker with literary Lego, develop complex relationships with authors, and directly impact the narrative’s creation and final result.
So you’ve written a novel. You’ve done a couple of drafts, and you feel good enough about it to ask a few people to take a look. Choose carefully; you need constructive feedback, not unconditional love. You won’t get it from the person who’s kept all your precious papers since you were four, and you won’t get it from your soul mate. Your trusted readers are business casual: friendly, but there for a reason.
The first read is mostly for characters and story—the who, what, and why. Your trusted readers tell you what was great about the book and what wasn’t so great. They ask for clarification and comment on that thing that happens in chapter four that maybe could happen sooner, or not at all. You grit your teeth, smile, and revise.