Nobody is perfect. Even seasoned writers and editors need additional eyes to look over their work before it’s ready for the public.

Here are the stages of editing a body of writing will often pass through before it’s ready for final publication:


Stage 1 – Self-edit

The author (or ghostwriter) will edit the book after he or she finishes writing it. They will read through it, making any necessary changes or corrections along the way. The goal is to make the content as clean and polished as possible.


Stage 2 – Content Editor

The next individual to look over the work will evaluate its overall content. They may decide certain points are irrelevant or unnecessary and suggest that the author omit them; or, in some cases, they may think that more information is needed and ask the author to add a little more detail. The content editor will also give feedback regarding overall themes, character development (in novels) and length of the writing.


Stage 3 – Beta Readers

Beta readers or reviewers will go through the text to provide a critique of the work from a reader’s point of view. Oftentimes, they will catch small mistakes and inconsistencies that your previous editors might have missed. For maximum efficiency, send your manuscript to beta reviewers and your line editor concurrently.


Stage 4 – Line Editor

A line editor (sometimes known as copy editor) will check the work for flaws in sentence structure, style and tone. They will also make sure that everything conforms to the proper style guide (AP, MLA, etc.). In the case of nonfiction work, they will also fact-check the spelling of names of people and places.


Stage 5 – Proofreader

In the final editing stage before the manuscript goes to print, a proofreader will clean up any grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors. He or she will also verify that the page numbers match up with the table of contents and that indices are accurate.


By the time the book goes to print, it should be as close to perfect as possible. Going through multiple stages of editing and meeting the eyes of multiple individuals should help ensure the finished product is clean, clear and captivating!


About the author

Rachel Rachel Brownlow is founder and CEO of Your Written Word LLC, a ghostwriting company that helps successful and aspiring business leaders take their ideas from conception to publication. She has written, edited, proofread, consulted and/or created publishing proposals for more than a dozen nonfiction books. She also contributes to a variety of magazines and publications, including the Austin Business Journal, Austin Monthly, NSIDE Magazine and Georgetown View Magazine. You can find more of her work at