Guest Posts

5 Editing Terms All Indie Authors Should Know #GuestPost by Claire Jennison

As a writer, we have the craft to create worlds, characters, and their stories. Inside our heads, those stories run like an all-singing, all-dancing movie. (Well, they do in mine…) but do our words convey this same effect for a reader?

Often, we are so close to the story we have created, it is hard to spot where we may need to make changes, add or remove items, spot crutch words (Oh, I have compiled a list, a mile long, of mine).

This is where editing comes in.

And as an Indie author, I remember the mind boggling at the different aspects of editing; the different stages that your book baby goes through, to become a polished piece of prose, ready to be presented to the world.

With this in mind, I am delighted to invite professional editor, Claire Jennison of Penning and Planning to step up and give us a brief outline of some of the jargon we will encounter on our second leg to publication… EDITING! Away you go, Claire!

Claire Jennison of Penning and Planning

Are you an author planning to self publish? Does some of the jargon associated with editing confuse you? If so, this blog will help!

As an indie author, you need to know exactly what editing terms, phrases and descriptions mean if you are considering using a professional editor to edit your book(s) – which you definitely should! This blog outlines and explains some common terms, demystifying the jargon often used in association with professional editing.

For example:

  • Is line editing different to copy editing?
  • What does developmental editing mean?
  • What is a Frankenstein edit?

The answers to these questions will become clear in this post!

Here is a list of 5 editing terms all indie authors should know:

  1. Sample Edit

A professional editor should offer a sample edit before they agree to edit your full manuscript/you decide to book them as your editor. Some editors offer free sample edits (usually between 500-1000 words) and some charge a set fee for sample edits (which may be then deducted off the cost of the full edit should you choose to book them).

A sample edit ensures you, as the author:

  • Know what level of editing your book needs
  • Understand what is included in the editing service
  • Feel the editor is a good fit for you and your book
  • Feel reassured the editor understands the genre expectations of your book
  • Are given a transparent price and timeframe for the editing work involved
  • Are able to evaluate the impact the edit could have on the whole manuscript

A sample edit also ensures the editor:

  • Feels you are a good fit for working together
  • Your book is ready for professional intervention
  • Feels their skills and knowledge can improve the book

Some editors will ask for a sample from the beginning of your novel, others may ask for a sample from the middle, and others may request your full manuscript and edit a section of their choosing. It depends on the editor. If a professional editor refuses to complete a sample for you, whether free or paid, I would seriously question whether they are the right editor for you.

2. Line/Copy Editing

Line editing and copy editing are usually interchangeable terms, but different editors may still mean different things when referring to each. Make sure you ask what is included in the editing service they recommend you need.

Generally, line/copy editing usually focuses on:

  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar corrections
  • Correcting incorrect words and adding missed words
  • Consistent formatting e.g. how dates/times are written
  • Character name/description/distinguishing feature(s) consistency
  • Removing writing clutter (How to cut the clutter for page-turning prose will help with this!)

3. Developmental/Structural Editing

As with line/copy editing, developmental editing and structural editing are usually interchangeable terms, but different editors may have a preference for one term or the other. Again, make sure you are clear what developmental/structural changes your editor will address in your manuscript.

Generally, development/structural editing usually focuses on big picture issues such as:

  • Plot order
  • Major plot holes
  • Pace of the book
  • Plausibility of events
  • Loose/unnecessary story threads
  • Adding or removing scenes if necessary

4. Track Changes

Track Changes is a function of Microsoft Word that most editors use, as it’s standard practice to edit manuscripts in Word. It allows editors to make changes to the body text in your manuscript, as well as add comments/suggestions using comment bubbles in the right-hand margin. Track Changes keeps track of all the amendments and suggestions for you to review when the manuscript is returned to you, which you can then accept or reject as you see fit.

5. Frankenstein Edit

A Frankenstein edit is exactly what you might imagine it to be – an embroidery of sample edits from different editors in order to get a manuscript edited for free. Needless to say, this is not good practice! Even if you think your book only needs a light line/copy edit, it is still impossible to ensure consistency throughout a full manuscript if different editors have edited different sections. In fact, it’s more likely to throw up even more problems as each editor will have their own style of editing based on their individual training and experience. Quite simply, don’t do it!

I really hope 5 Editing Terms All Indie Authors Should Know has been helpful to you as an indie author. If it has, please check out my other writing related blogs at

Thank you so much, Claire, for breaking down some of the intricacies of editing for us all. I hadn’t even heard of the Frankenstein Edit! Sounds rather scary, to be honest, and I can see why that wouldn’t be the best option (shouldn’t even be an option!), though with the costs sometimes being high to self publish, i can understand some inexperienced writers trying to take these cheaper shortcuts. My advice? DON’T! When you’ve spent all that time writing your story, why skimp on the editing, which will give it that polish?

And, if you want more advice, Claire has a book out, helping writers give their writing that edge, right from the beginning,

A little about Claire

As well as being an editor, proofreader and formatter, I’m an indie author too. This means I know exactly how you feel about self publishing your book. Don’t worry – we’re in this together.

I’ve been a professional editor since 2018, but I’ve been writing (and reading) obsessed since childhood. I’m an introvert and tend to live inside my own head, which is ideal for nurturing my overactive imagination!

Before creating Penning and Planning, I taught English and English literature for over 12 years, as a qualified teacher, after completing my English and Creative Writing degree. Although I possessed many transferable skills from my teaching career, I have invested in many editing, proofreading and formatting training courses over the past two years to ensure my author clients receive the best service I can possibly offer and deliver.

My professional training includes a wide range of editing, proofreading and writing courses from trusted, reputable and inspiring sources: CiEPThe PTCThe NovelryJericho WritersSelf Publishing 101 (taught by six figure indie author Mark Dawson), Plan Your Plot (taught by bestselling author Laura Jane Williams), and Self Publishing Formula’s How to Write a Bestseller (taught by bestselling author Suzy K Quinn). 

Alongside running my business, I have been a member of my local lottery funded and community interest writing group for two years. Collaboratively, we self published an anthology of short stories – Another Time Another Place – in January 2020, and our second anthology of crime based stories – Red Herrings and Blind Alleys – was published in May 2020.

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17 thoughts on “5 Editing Terms All Indie Authors Should Know #GuestPost by Claire Jennison”

      1. Thank you for giving her space on your blog Sis! The information is very appreciated, even my coming out with a own first book has to wait. Actually i am writing more than 1000 word per day, but only for courts. Have a beautiful weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Sample edits are a great idea. Editing is expensive so finding the right fit is important. And a Frankenstein edit?! I’d never heard of that, but I agree. It sounds like a terrible idea. Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very informative post, just wondering how many different editors you might need for a complete frankinstein edit. Could be about seventy or many more, that would be a complex way of doing it and all those different views could completely ruin the work… no point at all… whew..

    Liked by 1 person

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