10 Different Types of Editors: Learn Who To Work With

When you are finished writing anything long-form, like a book, it’s time to find an editor. Many different types of editors exist, and selecting the right one depends on your needs and abilities.

There is a saying that you should not edit your work. You cannot be objective about what you’ve just written, and you are likely to see what you wanted to write instead of seeing what is actually there. As a result, you could overlook grammar mistakes and wider issues. That is why you should work with an editor.

There are plenty of types of editors out there. For example, some people are looking for a copy editor while others might be looking for a developmental editor. You might be looking for someone who can help you with formatting, or you might be looking for line editors. Even though proofreading can help you catch a lot of typos, you might be looking for different types of editors that can help you see the big picture.

Before you go through the rewriting process, substantive editing might be needed. How can you find an editor who can help you with the writing process? Take a look at a few of the most important editors below. 

What Are the Different Types of Editors?

Different types of editors

If you are looking for a good editor, plenty of options are available. Many people specialize in the types of editing services they offer. Some of the most popular types of editors include:

1. A Professional Proofreader

One of the most common editors you might work with is a proofreader. A proofreader is an editor who will not necessarily make significant changes to your work; however, they usually look for grammatical issues.

For example, a proofreading editor may look for spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and other formatting issues. They will not make any changes to the way your story unfolds, but they will help you catch grammatical issues and typos that you may have overlooked during your proofreading process. They provide a second set of eyes to make sure your document looks professional.

They may also check for different types of plagiarism.

2. Beta Readers

Beta readers usually do not have any professional training in the editing world; however, they can help you get another opinion. Eventually, you want people to read your work and like it.

A beta reader can tell you if they like your work. Usually, you will give a beta reader a questionnaire that they will fill out as they read. Then, the beta reader will tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and what you might want to improve. A beta reader should serve as a microcosm of how the general public will feel about your work down the road. 

Read our guide: How to find beta readers

3. A Developmental Editor

Even if you are interested in the self-publishing process, you may still want to work with a developmental editor. The developmental editing process is important because it helps you look at your structure, tone, and target audience.

They can also look at character development, plot development, and numerous other critical factors before your book reaches the open market. Not everyone has to work with a developmental editor, but it is important if you want to publish a novel. A developmental editor is a valuable partner if you need help moving your story forward while keeping it from getting stuck in the mud. 

Tip: Collaborate with them using the best book editing software.

4. A Fact-Checker

Fact-checking is critically important if you are writing a nonfiction book or a work of historical fiction. A fact-checker is essentially a professional researcher who can make sure you have not overlooked anything important. It can take a lot of time to research facts from history. You might not even know where to look. A fact-checker usually has a treasure trove of resources that can help you make sure you haven’t gotten anything wrong. They can also help you with your citations to back up your claims. 

5. Content Editors

Types of editors
A content editor can take a look at the entirety of your work and make sure that the scope is appropriate for the topics to discuss

If you need extensive editing done with your work, then a content editor can help you. A content editor can handle just about everything that your writing covers. A content editor can take a look at the entirety of your work and make sure that the scope is appropriate for the topics to discuss. This type of editor can also help you ensure the information is accurate before sending it to a journalistic location. The content editor can also place your work in the context of a larger strategy, making sure it fits well. 

Read our guide: What is content editing?

6. Copy Editors

A copy editor is similar to a content editor in that they can handle a lot of tasks; however, a copy editor also does some proofreading. They can handle formatting, grammar, and stylistic issues. If you have a specific writing style, they can help your copy fit that style.

For example, you might have content that needs to go up on a website. A copy editor can help you with that. You might have a newspaper article that needs to be published. A copy editor can help you with that as well. A copy editor is also called the line editor, and they can do a bit of everything. 

Read our guide to the best copy-editing software

7. Editor at Large

An editor-at-large is also called a contributing editor. Usually, they partner with a specific magazine or newspaper department, handling a lot of journalistic editing. Even though a clearinghouse or a publishing house might employ them, they are frequently freelance individuals. Therefore, they have a lot of freedom regarding what they choose to edit, and they may write themselves from time to time. If you have a journalistic work that needs to be edited, you might be interested in working with an editor-at-large

8. Associate Editor

An associate editor is similar to an editor-at-large because an associate editor is also frequently tied to a magazine or newspaper; however, they usually have a certain section or department assigned to them instead of being a freelance editor. For example, an associate editor might be explicitly assigned to the sports section. There might also be an associate editor who was assigned to the Crime section. An associate editor might have a group of editors that work underneath them. 

9. Editor in Chief

An editor-in-chief, usually called the chief editor, is the individual who oversees the entire editing department.

For example, a marketing firm might have a chief editor responsible for overseeing all of the individual editors and their clients. There might also be a chief editor and a newspaper company responsible for overseeing all published articles. The goal of the chief editor is to make sure the mission and philosophy of the company are upheld. Even though they might not do a lot of specific editing on their own, they probably have a tremendous amount of editing experience. 

10. Acquisitions Editor

An acquisitions editor usually works for a publishing company or a publishing house. Acquisitions editors do not typically do a lot of editing on their own, but they have a lot of it in the experience.

It is their job to decide what books the company should acquire and publish. Therefore, acquisitions editors are more of a buyer. They are responsible for purchasing the publishing rights to the book, so they need to think carefully about how they spend the company’s money. They might create proposals for individual authors, approaching them with an offer to buy and sell the book on their behalf. 

These are just a few of the most common ways an editor might be categorized. It is essential to think carefully about the type of editor you want to work with. 

Why Should You Hire an Editor?

If you are the author, you know the book’s final vision. Therefore, you might be wondering why you should work with an editor at all. After all, it is your work. Some of the biggest reasons why you should work with an editor include:

Get an Objective Opinion

The first reason why you should work with an editor is that you need to get an objective opinion. You have probably spent a significant amount of time working on that draft. Therefore, you are very proud of your work, making it hard for you to be critical. On the other hand, you need an objective opinion to make your work better. An editor gives you a fresh pair of eyes that can help you see the document more clearly. That way, you will have an easier time making improvements. 

Catch Writing Mistakes You Overlooked

An editor can also help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked. Because you are the one who wrote the piece, you are more likely to see what you want to see instead of what is actually there. This can make it easy to overlook typos, spelling issues, grammar issues, and formatting mistakes. You need to catch these issues before publishing your work, and an editor can help you do exactly that. 

Ensure Consistency In Your Work

If you spent multiple weeks and months writing your work, you probably wrote certain pieces at different times. As a result, not all of your ideas are necessarily consistent. You might have a specific tone you want to hit. You might have a particular style of writing you want to use. There might be sections of your work that deviate from those ideas. An editor can help you look at all ideas present and ensure they are being presented consistently. That way, the reader will have an easier time keeping track of everything going on.

Save Time and Energy Editing

Finally, you should also work with a professional editor because this can save you a lot of time and energy. Going through multiple revisions alone can be frustrating, although a self-editing checklist can help.

An editor can help you identify flow issues, word choice problems, stylistic issues, and grammatical mistakes such as comma splices. An editor can also make these changes more quickly, helping you save time. Furthermore, your energy is better spent elsewhere. It can be stressful to edit your work, and hiring a professional editor can spare you this stress.

For all of these reasons, you should consider working with a professional editor who can help you improve the quality of your work. 

Final Word on Types of Editors

Even though you might have a style guide you want to follow, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, there could still be significant structural editing that your book needs. The editing process can be prolonged, but you should work with a professional who can leverage multiple skill sets to help you improve your work.

There are many types of editors out there, so think carefully about what editor is best to help you improve your work. You might be able to find a freelance editor or a ghostwriter who can share a few writing tips along the way. 

Think about the type of work you are publishing. Are you publishing an academic research paper? Do you need content to go on your website? Do you want to publish something in a magazine? Then, reach out to an editor who specializes in that specific area. If you hire a professional editor, you can create a professional, finished product that will positively impact your audience. If you like this article, check out our guide to the best book editing software.

FAQs About Types of Editors

Does an editor help you with proofreading?

Yes, an editor can help you with proofreading. It can be difficult to catch every grammatical mistake in your writing. An editor can help you with capitalization issues, spelling problems, and even sentence structure issues. They might even add page numbers to the bottom of your work if that is appropriate. 

How do I find the right type of editor for my needs?

You need to think about the type of work you are publishing. Are you publishing an academic research paper? Do you need content to go on your website? Do you want to publish something in a magazine? Then, reach out to an editor who specializes in that specific area. If you hire a professional editor, you can create a professional, finished product that will positively impact your audience. 

  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.