Beta Reading or Editing?

Beta readers, editors, proofreaders, copy editors, line editors, developmental editors, content editors…what’s the difference?

In today’s post, we will discuss the primary differences between beta readers and types of editors.

Beta Readers

A beta reader is one of the first people to read your work.  This person often does not have professional training but is usually an avid reader and familiar with the genre in which you are writing.  A beta reader would read a piece of writing looking for consistency, major holes in the story or character development, and general interest or believability.  Some beta readers may also point out typographical errors or grammatical errors. This is often the first editing stage, and some writers choose not to use beta readers.

Developmental/Content Editors

Developmental or content editors are primarily concerned with the content of the story, the context of setting, and the development of well-rounded characters.  These editors examine pacing, character traits, flow of the narrative, and predictability of the plot.  A developmental or content editor does just what the name suggests: help develop the content.  Much like a film camera can take a photo, the final photo cannot be viewed until the film has been developed.

Copy Editors, Line Editors, Proofreaders

All of these names really mean virtually the same thing. This type of editor searches the manuscript for typographical errors; grammar, mechanical, and punctuation errors; errors in continuity for things like capitalization, spelling of names, eye color, height, etc.; and all of the small tedious things that the writer might miss.  This is often the last stage before publication.

The bottom line: beta reading generally comes before editing, but both are important resources for writers. All of these types of editors are important in the editing process because they will notice things from a reader’s perspective and from an editor’s perspective.

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