Substantive Line Editing

What does this term mean? That depends on whom you ask, but here’s how I define substantive line editing:

  • It’s line editing because I’ll go through the entire manuscript line by line, making changes and corrections.
  • It’s substantive because I’ll go beyond checking grammar and punctuation.

My goal will be to help you better communicate with your readers. I’ll work hard to polish your manuscript, but I won’t alter your ideas or your personal voice.

What I'll do

I’ll edit the manuscript electronically using Microsoft Word. I’ll turn on the Track Changes feature so that if you wish, you can easily identify all the changes I made.

As needed, I’ll make or suggest improvements in:

  • paragraph organization
  • sentence structure
  • word choice
  • clarity
  • tone
  • transitions
  • flow
  • use of headings

I’ll work to eliminate weaknesses that often plague writing, such as:

  • wordiness
  • unneeded repetition
  • clichés
  • inappropriate jargon
  • overuse of passive voice
  • overreliance on phrases like “there were” and “it is”

I’ll also perform basic copyediting tasks (unless you prefer they be done as a separate step later on). These tasks include:

  • checking and fixing formatting
  • correcting errors in grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation
  • applying style guidelines
  • ensuring consistency (for example, is it “10” or “ten”?)

While I’m editing, I may have questions or suggestions about a specific passage. If so, I’ll write you a note in the manuscript (using Microsoft Word’s comments feature, unless you request a different method). For instance, I might say “I’m not sure what this sentence means. Can you rephrase it more clearly?” 

If I spot a more extensive issue that needs to be addressed right away, I’ll let you know by email. Then you can decide how we should handle it. 

What you’ll receive

  • Edited manuscript, with tracked changes and comments
  • Separate document of editorial notes discussing specific issues (if needed)
  • Style sheet that shows choices made in spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization (useful as a reference during book production)

Where to go from there

When you receive the edited manuscript, your next step will be to read the comments and accept or reject changes. If needed, you might decide to make some final revisions (for example, adding a paragraph to provide missing information). 

At that point, the editing process may be finished. On the other hand, some authors choose to have another editing pass, such as:

  • A cleanup edit. Let’s say you’ve added or changed text after the substantive line edit. You might want to have me look at just those passages to be sure they’re free of errors. The cleanup edit requires a separate fee, but usually doesn’t take long.
  • Copyediting. If you decided not to include copyediting in the substantive line edit, then it will need to be done as a separate step, either by me or by another editor.

Once the editing is finished, the next step is to turn your manuscript into a print book or e-book. You might do this yourself or enlist the help of other professionals (book cover designer, interior designer, proofreader, e-book formatter). At that point, my job is done, but I'll be wishing you every success with your new book!

Back to “Editing Services”

Continue to "Process"