The Grammar Chick
I am the Grammar Chick, a freelance editor for fiction with more than 25 years of experience in the literary world, in addition to a full-time berth as a policy manager at a large university in Seattle. I specialize in line editing (substantive copy editing) fiction manuscripts for indie authors. Please check out my Clients page for a sample of the clients and books I have edited recently.
You probably have questions so let me try to clarify. The different editing terms have taken on lives of their own in the new eBook world.
Editors call themselves all kinds of things, and you may have no idea what they're really going to do for you. They charge all kinds of prices, so that's no indication of skill or depth of editing. I also hear people talking about what amounts to punctuation and misused words as being editing--editing is so much more. I'm not sure if editing terms will settle down at some point and be more consistent--lots of questions before hiring an editor are definitely in order.
I do a lot of syntax work, which is how you've written your story down to the nitty gritty details of how sentences are constructed, did you use the right word, is your sentence so dense your reader can't get to the end of it without dropping the threads? Did you get your points across well? Are you showing and not telling? That involves word choice, sentence structure, paragraph structure, etc.
But I go further and look at character development, story development, logical outcomes (unless I think you'll beat me about the head for daring to suggest some big picture ideas). Does your character say and do things that ring true for that character? Are your characters supposed to grow as people and do they? Last but most important--do I care about your characters--have you put them into an interesting situation/dilemma? My college creative writing program director tried to teach us to create our characters and then stick them into a situation. One of the hardest things I've found to accomplish is not to manipulate the characters to fit the story you want to tell. Sometimes you'll find your story doesn't end how you thought it would if you are true to your character's personality.
I'm really a complete editor--I look at everything. If you have weak parts--a scene that drags or doesn't ring true, action that defies logic, something that doesn't have good rhythm or your dialogue doesn’t fit your character--I'm going to tell you and possibly suggest an alternative. I also take a lot of personal notes when I do a manuscript of over 150K so I'll remember particular issues/characterizations throughout the book and keep them consistent.
If you’re the kind of writer who really cares whether his or her story is good, you are this editor's dream. You recognize that perfect punctuation does not a great story make, so you’re not looking for a proofreader. You don’t want it done and published in such a hurry that you race through the edits. You have all the trappings of an artist. We should talk.