I have completed writing my first novel. What order should I start putting it in front of editors (copy, development, structural, etc.) before submitting it to an agent or publisher?

  • 2
    Have you revised it yourself? Has anybody else read it yet? Sep 20, 2020 at 7:42
  • The vast majority of editors, agents, etc. do not like cold calls or unannounced manuscript submissions, and want authors to prove they have an existing platform and audience before they will even allow communication. So your first step to getting a professional editor to look over your work is to build yourself a platform and do some marketing.
    – Sciborg
    Sep 20, 2020 at 14:22
  • @sciborg My understanding is that while an established platform and audience is always beneficial, it is in no way essential (at least for fiction writers - it seems to be more important for nonfiction writers). Publishers look at content first and foremost and any other qualities as a bonus if they think the content is good enough.
    – occipita
    Sep 27, 2020 at 11:29
  • @occipita This is fair, perhaps you had a different publisher than I did. Mine requested to see my platform first before looking over my content :)
    – Sciborg
    Sep 27, 2020 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


There are many models of editing from 3 to about 19 levels depending on the context and who is listing them.

I prefer the 5 level model:

  1. Developmental Editing – Concept Level Editing

Entire concepts and story angles may be redefined during developmental editing. This type of editing involves working with a writer as they are coming up with the overall theme of their article or story.

You do the above before you write Then after you write you do these:

  1. Substantive Editing – Paragraph Level Editing add information to support the theme remove information that does not support the theme reorganize paragraphs to improve flow of ideas revise sentence structure and organization to improve the reader’s experience

eliminating redundant, unnecessary words replacing repetitive words with synonyms substituting weak words, phrases, and sentences with powerful alternatives revising sentence structure to improve flow

  1. Fact/Accuracy Checking – Information Level Editing

  2. Proofreading – Word Level Editing SPAG typos grammar errors spelling inaccuracies punctuation errors (especially comma errors) capitalization errors verb tense issues (subject and verb disagreements) incorrect pronoun/article use improper spacing (spacing should usually be one space after each period) formatting inconsistencies

You will see many other versions depending on the context. Organizations will have many more to ensure things of interest to them such as image, lawsuit avoidance, yada yada. Editors will give a different view depending what they are trying to sell you. And there are others.

Canada has similar editing viewpoints but does differ slightly from usual USA view.

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