If you’re a writer, you may have heard the terms: development editor, beta reader, sensitivity reader, and line editor. Have you wondered what exactly they are? Here is my take on these terms.
A development editor (aka, alpha reader) helps the writer early in the story development process. This kind of editing can happen from when the writer gets an idea and is trying to plot out and create characters to after a first workable draft is finished. (Get quote from Jacque).
A beta reader is reader is looking at how the story flows. They may also give comments about their reactions to sections so that the writer knows if she is conveying the emotion she wants.
A sensitivity reader reads a story and reviews how marginalized groups are portrayed to make sure the portrayal is accurate and fair. Marginalized groups are sometimes portrayed in ways that reinforce stigma and entrench marginalization. This also includes portraying majority figures in ways that serve to perpetuate stigma and marginalization of groups. An example of this is the white savior trope. This trope uses the plot line of white person who may or may not have been previously racist but an otherwise nice person, learns that people of color are good, and then somehow comes in and saves person of color character, thus taking away the agency of said person of color. Classic examples are the scene in Hidden Figures, where the Kevin Costner’s character realizes the systemic racism is interfering with his project and takes a sledgehammer to the whites only bathroom sign. This subject deserves more than a paragraph in a single post. The bottom line is that having a sensitivity reader review your work is a good idea.
A line editor looks at the writing, line by line and corrects grammar and spelling errors.
If you watch the hundreds of videos on self-publishing (ie., indie writers), then you’re probably familiar with the slew of videos on the *(insert number) mistakes new self-published authors make. One of the most common one that I have seen is not hiring an editor. It used to be that a publisher would pay for the editor. This is still true, but mostly for self-published authors. Since indie writers are their own publishers and if they pay for the editor, then the publisher (the indie writer) is in fact paying for the editor. (See what I did there?) For writers going the traditional route, you may still want to hire an editor before trying to get an agent or submit to traditional publishing houses, so in this case the cost goes to the author.
No matter which way you are trying to get your work published, you as a writer should still hire an editor.
I’m going to be featuring editors to check out here and in my eNewsletter the Indie Writer. Be sure to follow this blog and subscribe to the eNewsletter.
If you’re an editor and would like to be featured as a resource for indie writers, kindly sign up here (make email list for this).
What do you think? Have I got it right? Do you have other takes on the types of editors/editing? Let me know in the comments below.
©2020 Michelle Raab, PhD. All rights reserved.
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