What is it? Why do only some editors offer it and some don't? If its not always offered, is it necessary? Isn't it the same as a content edit? Yes and no.
The Line Edit- What is it?
In its truest form, a line edit is the completion of a content edit. A line edit is an extremely focused and detailed look at individual sentences and lines. It is a content edit of specific lines and paragraphs.
A content edit fixes issues requiring you to look at full pages and scenes at a time. For more on what a content edit is, visit my post The content edit: What it is and why it should be your first edit. After erasing and rearranging and rewriting, you need to do another kind of content edit fine tune the details to help complete the content edit.
Things We Look For: Line Edit vs Content Edit
Hi friends! If you're new to the publishing world (indie pub or traditional), You're likely overwhelmed with the "afterward". You've thrown up a jumbled mess onto some pages and then labored over every single word until it was absolutely correct (and then second guessed yourself a few times), and now you can't do anymore to your piece without going insane or throwing up. (*Deep breath*) Enter Editors.
Oh don't roll your eyes at me, I know. The LAST thing you want right now is someone else pouring over your work with more critiques. But, do you want a successful book or not? Because I contend that every book needs an editor. Even small e-books could use a good copyedit.
So what's the first kind of edit you should look for?.
The Content Edit
So a content edit is the very first edit you should definitely look for. Content Edits address the book as a whole, covering topics such as plot, character development, tone, and world-building. This is NOT as detailed as a line or copy edit because it looks at the main issues and not each individual line. However, it is super detailed about the overall effect of your book. After choosing an editor, this is the first edit you will receive. The main points of the story have to be fixed before the small details can be ironed out or else things become very unproductive.
The questions is not whether you should self edit or not, because I'm sure, for many of you, that's a given. In fact, I can't imagine writing something and not constantly rethinking my word choices. There is, however, one thing I have to stress.
Self editing AFTER your piece is finished is a must.
"I self edit as I go, Ashley, so my piece is already edited by the time it's finished." Wrong. Its important to do a full read through after your piece is finished to check for coherency, consistency and flow. These things have to be viewed overall, not when you're zeroed in on specific scenes.
If a painter is painting a grand picture of nature, zeroing in on a specific corner filled with fall leaves on a beautiful oak tree, he still has to look at the picture overall to see color pallets, themes, texture, and style so that the corner still matches the rest of the picture. In the same way, you should be looking at your piece as a whole to fix your own style issues.
If you're still on the fence, here are three reasons why you 100% absolutely must self edit your piece afterwards, and why I (and other editors) often turn away first drafts.
It will save you money.
Editors will either charge by the hour or by the word count. I wont go into which is better bang for your buck right now, but either way, you will inevitably pay more if your piece is not self edited. Even if you find an editor who works by the word count (like I do), they may come back and ask for more money if the piece is extra rough. Or they'll read a sample before taking the job and decide not to take the piece altogether.