The editing process is divided into stages, with a certain amount of overlap between them. My services cover the journey from first draft to completed book.

Manuscript Assessment: I give a careful, first read-through of your manuscript and provide a constructive written assessment of its strengths and weaknesses and what could be done to ready it for publication. This is the one stage of the process that is not “hands on” editing.

Substantive (or Developmental) Edit: This is the “heavy lifting” stage of editing where revisions unfold over several drafts, leading to the best book possible. In fiction, this involves big picture issues like character development, narrative arc, point of view, pacing, dialogue, and clarifying themes. In non-fiction it would involve issues like which sections need further elaboration and how best to divide and organize chapters. Substantive and copy editing are usually done on the digital file, using the Track Changes feature in Word, though it could be done on hard copy.

Copy (or Line) Edit: This stage goes line by line, dealing with repetition, continuity, and word usage, as well as grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Proofread: This is the final opportunity to catch and correct any errors that may have crept in during the design and layout of the document for publication (or that were simply missed earlier).

In her excellent book The Editor’s Eye, Stacy Ennis further details the stages of editing. She has developed an Editing Checklist to help writers determine the levels of editing their manuscript requires. The checklist is available for download, along with several other useful resources, on Stacy’s website.

Feel free to email me (; I would be happy to help you determine what level of editing your manuscript requires and provide an estimate.

I am also available to speak about editing. Together with author James Leck I have presented on the author/editor relationship and the editing process for the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our presentations have been very well received.

I am a bit of an editing evangelist; I love to spread the word about editing. Check out my Resources page.

“Marianne Ward has been invaluable in making this book accessible for readers. Thanks.”

  • Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question