What is content editing and why authors should care? In this article, you'll discover more about content editing and learn how this can help writers.

What is Content Editing?

Content editing is the process by which professional editing will provide feedback to help lift a manuscript to a publishable standard. 

It is normally the first time a book has received formal feedback and will stimulate some level of rewriting. This means that during the publishing process, content editing can take weeks, or even months, as the writer and editor work closely to improve the book. 

Content editing is also known as developmental editing, structural editing, story editing, substantive editing, comprehensive editing, macro editing, or even heavy editing.

It may seem that content editing is simple, but in reality, content editing is a much more involved process. 

The editor will examine the entire manuscript and, in the process, considering all aspects of the book, including its narrative and structure. They will also consider readability, plot, and structure. Some editors will also look out for line-level problems, such as sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. 

The better editors will assess a book's suitability for the marketplace. They may also help you to pinpoint the book's genre correctly.

When is Content Editing Needed?

In this article, I outlined the different types of editing needed when publishing a book. 

The best way to understand the editorial process is to consider the steps undertaken by traditional publishers when preparing a book for publication. 

The first step is content editing; when an editor provides feedback and the writer reworks the book to a standard suitable for publication.

This is followed by copyediting; this is the process of removing errors and typos from a manuscript. It is also when the copyeditor will ensure that the prose is consistent and matches the house style. 

The final step is for the manuscript to be laid out for either paper printing or digital printing. This process can add errors to the text, so one more editorial inspection is needed. This is called a proofread. 

What Will a Content Editor do?

The content editor's role is complicated, but they will consider readability, plot, and structure. 

The content editor will read the manuscript and highlight any issues that they will find. These might be with smaller problems of characterization or broader plot problems. 

The feedback will be provided in both embedded comments and in a separate report. 

The editor will then work closely with the writer to ensure that they are making the changes needed to lift the book to the required standard.

A good content editor will also be making some line-level alterations, though this is not usually part of their job. They will also be carrying out some fact-checking, though, for more in-depth manuscripts, a specialist editor may be required. 

How Long will Content Editing Take?

The content editing process is complex and involved. When editing a book, a content editor will often have to read the text several times before providing sufficient feedback. 

An editor may also have to read the full manuscript and then re-read certain sections. 

This means that it can often take weeks, if not months, to edit a book or novel correctly. 

Also, good content editors are always busy, and a book might have to wait a few weeks before the editorial process can begin.  

Final Thoughts

Content editing is a vital, though complicated, part of the editorial and publication process.

Finding a good content editor is often the difference between a good and a great book. 

However, a relationship between a writer and editor is a brittle and delicate affair with both parties needing to approach the edit from a place of love.