Line Editing

A high-level polishing edit to bring out the best in your narrative voice

Line editing is hands-on editing of manuscript text, best suited for after all major conceptual writing and revising work is complete and before a final pass for error correction. Line editing can be done with a variety of objectives in mind (most of which aim to enhance narrative voice), which may include:

  • improving readability
  • clarifying meaning
  • eliminating repetition, awkward phrasing, or strained literary effect
  • ensuring concise and precise use of language, as appropriate to the text
  • enriching sentence flow and syntax
  • ensuring transitions are smooth and logical
  • making tone more consistent and/or suitable for the audience
  • strengthening character voices, making them more memorable and distinct
  • making dialogue sound more natural, lively, and entertaining
  • maximizing the accuracy and readability of regional or ethnic dialect
  • improving dialogue and interior monologue mechanics
  • cutting, tightening, condensing
  • giving flat passages more snap
  • relaxing any inappropriately stiff, formal, or academic-sounding phrasing
  • fixing any unintended point of view (POV) slips

Please note that while line editing often does include attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation, error correction is not the primary intent of this service. Line editing should never be considered a substitute for copy editing or proofreading.

All editing is done electronically using Microsoft Word’s “Track Changes” feature, which allows you to accept, modify, or reject all suggested edits. We provide “clean,” as-edited copy (which has all the proposed changes accepted and all queries and comments deleted) and a markup version, which shows what’s been cut, inserted, or modified along with any notes, comments, suggestions, and explanations to consider as you process the editing and finalize the text.

When reviewing your editing, remember that it is wholly appropriate for you to blow your own breath into the changes or come at things a different way if what your editor has done for a given passage doesn’t suit you. While we’ll do our best to maintain your voice in all proposed edits (and strengthen it wherever possible), you should never hesitate to reject a change or rephrase something if the wording your editor has chosen doesn’t feel right.

While the primary objective is hands-on polishing of the text as written, line editing can also include margin notes to explain changes, illustrate points of craft, encourage clarification of meaning or intent, or pass along ideas to push a scene further or refine an approach. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for line editing to inspire ideas for further tweaking and fine-tuning as you process the editing.

We have several options for review of any changes you make to the manuscript after receiving your line editing. Final copy editing, if required, should only be done after the line editing is processed and all revision work is complete.

Jonathan Balcombe

Favorite genres include science, nature, history, memoir, social sciences, travel, and narrative nonfiction

Renni Browne

Favorite genres include memoir, southern fiction, mystery/suspense, character driven literary and mainstream fiction

Peter Gelfan

Favorite genres include memoir, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, humor and satire, thrillers, science, and philosophy

John Robert Marlow

Favorite genres include thrillers, mystery/suspense, action/adventure, middle grade and YA fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and true crime

Julie Miller

Favorite genres include memoir, literary fiction, thrillers, and books involving ecology, nature, animals, and the environment

Shannon Roberts

Favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, YA fiction, middle grade fiction, mystery/suspense, LGBTQ, and social science

Diane Stockwell

Favorite genres include memoir, history, politics, science, true crime, women's fiction, mainstream fiction, and historical fiction

Doug Wagner

Favorite genres include biographical fiction, mainstream fiction, cooking, food & wine, and science

Varies considerably based on the scope and depth of the editing and coaching notes required, but typical line editing charges fall between $.02 and $.07 per word.

Sample edits are available on request, with pricing based on the length of the sample and the scope and depth of the required editing.

Request A Quote

Varies based on length of material to be edited, but usually no more than 8 weeks for a complete manuscript.

To request a quote, make a submission, or request more information

Please visit our online welcome center, email us at admin@editorialdepartment.com, or call us at (520) 546-9992.

What happens next?

All inquiries to The Editorial Department will be personally fielded by author services director Ross Browne, who will do the following:

  • confirm receipt of your materials
  • gather any further information needed
  • do a no-cost/no-obligation preliminary review, to get a feel for which editor(s) and service(s) best fit your project’s needs
  • provide a written quote with price and turnaround time for any recommended services
  • answer any questions about recommended options or possible alternatives
  • schedule your project with the assigned editor, if you decide to move forward
  • explain and finalize the appropriate billing arrangements
  • provide a firm delivery date and keep you updated on our progress, as appropriate
  • deliver your feedback or editing to you once it’s ready
  • arrange for follow up with your editor by phone or email, once you have reviewed your feedback and/or editing
  • advise on next steps, and schedule reviews of new drafts if requested

Privacy & Confidentiality

We have utmost respect for our clients’ privacy concerns and will never sell, share, or disseminate your contact information. We will treat all materials supplied to us as confidential.

Formal nondisclosure agreements are not required but are available on request. More info is available here.

“‘Almost all good stories are sad because it is the human struggle that engages us readers and listeners the most’ (from Robert Morgan)–and here I am, always looking for the happy ending.”

Janet Burroway