Line editing looks at your manuscript at sentence level, line by line. Not only does a round of line editing fix spelling, grammar and syntax errors, it looks at word and language choice, repetition, inconsistencies, dialogue, flow, and pacing. While spelling and grammar are looked at during a line edit, these issues are not the main concern; that’s focused on more during a copy-edit.
Think of line-editing as a structure/content edit, whereas a copy edit and proofread are more language edits. A line edit sits between developmental and copy editing. It is the last stage where any rewriting should be occurring. A line edit focuses on revisions, whereas a copy edit focuses on corrections.
Depending on your experience as a writer, you may not need a line edit, it isn’t necessarily for everyone. But if you find yourself repeating certain actions or you have a large cast of characters or in-depth systems, you may benefit from a line edit which will pick up any inconsistencies or areas where the pacing suffers in favour of explanation of magic systems and world building etc.
If you’re self aware enough to realise a certain weakness in your writing, for instance, dialogue or dialogue tags, a line edit will be invaluable to you. It’s incredibly easy to become blind to dialogue tags or certain action tags we give certain characters, risking repetition that your readers are bound to pick up on.
A line edit sits within the content editing stage — in other words, it’s the last stage at which point any rewriting should be taking place. The next stage of editing is copy-editing, which focuses on corrections, rather than revisions. Therefore, a line edit would suggest a sentence is rewritten for flow, pacing, or readability issues, whereas a copy edit will purely focus on whether or not there are any grammatical errors. If a sentence could be worded better, a line edit would flag this up, a copy edit wouldn’t.
As much as I hate giving vague answers, the answer really is, “it depends”. If you take an average manuscript of 100k words, needing an average amount of editing, then you could expect a line edit to take anywhere from 4-6 weeks. However, it depends on the individual manuscript and my workload. After all, what’s “average”?
The best option is to send me an email or complete the contact form, send me a sample from the middle of your manuscript (as the middle is usually the weakest area for most authors and will give me the best idea on how much editing is required). Then, I can give you a time frame and a free, no obligation quote should you wish.
“Don’t listen to people who tell you that very few people get published and you won’t be one of them. Don’t listen to your friend who says you are better than Tolkien and don’t have to try any more. Keep writing, keep faith in the idea that you have unique stories to tell, and tell them.”
— Robin Hobb