Substantive Edit

Substantive (or Structural) Editing:  Intensive evaluation of sections, chapters, or the full manuscript looking at organization, tone, consistency, pacing, clarity, and closure. The standards for substantive editing use The Chicago Manual of Style and the manuscript genre’s conventions as benchmarks for the evaluation.

Substantive editing of a manuscript is a detailed, systematic edit. At the author’s request,  feedback from your beta readers is examined. Notes throughout the manuscript, using the track changes tool in MS Word, are included.

Detailed suggestions are incorporated into a summary document that typically ranges from 5-15 pages, depending on the manuscript length and findings. The notes include instructions for revisions on a page-by-page basis, as well as overall major issues.

Unless a prior agreement is made to include ghostwriting (an extra fee), it is the writer’s decision and responsibility to incorporate the suggested edits into the manuscript.

Areas specific to non-fiction manuscripts are identified.

The Substantive Editing Process

Evaluates the appropriateness of material for the target market, including hooks

Assesses character authenticity and arc

Analyzes plot construction and arc

Examines the relationship of setting to story content

Pinpoints pacing and information flow issues

Identifies inconsistent voice

Evaluates chapter transitions

Identifies gaps in content, inconsistencies in style

Spots grammar issues


In addition to the above, issues specific to non-fiction include:

Tests references for the accuracy of links and ease in finding (non-fiction)

Validates authority and professionalism (non-fiction)

Examines focus, organization, clarity, visual elements, consistent structure (non-fiction)

Fractional Edits
Fractional edits are edits of a specific section of a manuscript, i.e. Chapters 1 – 5, for specific writing tools such as the opening hook for fiction or statement of purpose for non-fiction.

Fees are based on nationally accepted standards. Payment plans are available.

If your manuscript is ready for a substantive look at the content,  or if you are unsure if this is the edit you need, contact me through this confidential form, so we can get busy!