Manuscript Assessments (also called Editorial Assessments) are comprehensive, multi-page reports discussing your manuscript from a high level, birds-eye view. Manuscript Assessments (MAs) offer big picture editorial advice regarding things like overall timeline, overall plot, overall organization, major characters, writing tone/style/flow, word count, and marketability. They provide examples to highlight strengths/weakness and note areas that need special attention, but do not include rewrites nor problem solving solutions for complex issues.
MAs are a good option for authors on a tight budget as they offer summarized yet specific feedback that the author can directly apply. MAs do not include a marked-up manuscript.
Developmental Edits (also called Substantive Edits and Content Edits) are the most detailed edit available.
Development Edits (DEs) take a high-level, birds-eye view, and frequently include suggestions regarding timeline, organization/framework, tone, voice, writing style, pacing/flow, word count, clarity, consistency, and, where appropriate, narrative arc, plot lines, and character development. They often suggest tweaking, rewriting, or cutting paragraphs, pages, and sections, as well as plot lines or characters as needed. A DE will offer suggestions on the writing itself to ensure it is organized and flows easily. DEs also offer solutions for problematic areas (including characters, plot, and timeline) in the manuscript. DEs are most helpful if word count (length) is a concern because a DE will include suggestions of where to cut and will identify any "holes" in the manuscript--all while preserving your voice and message.
Some editors offer only an editorial letter as their vehicle for communicating DEs. I prefer to mark-up manuscripts and create a personalized Editorial Letter because I find that most manuscripts benefit from both. My Editorial Letters discuss substantive issues and offer suggestions for improvement, while comments in the manuscript itself are used to point out problematic elements, suggest cuts, and note areas that need revision. Rewriting and recasting is done as necessary in the manuscript itself, though the majority of rewrites are done by the author. (If significant rewriting is needed, a Line Edit would be more appropriate.) DEs will always suggest revisions that are grammatically correct but do not include a Copy Edit of the final manuscript. Due to liability reasons, DEs do not include fact checking.
Line Edits offer revisions on the page, scene/section, and paragraph levels.
Line Edits address the prose, including paragraph/sentence structure, word choices, language techniques, writer’s “tics” (repetitive phrasing or structure), voice, style, flow/readability, pacing, consistency, etc. Line Edits include a marked-up manuscript and Editorial Letter--all tailored to your unique manuscript. Due to liability reasons, Line Edits do not include fact checking.
Copy Edits offer revisions on the sentence and word levels.
Copy Edits focus on the mechanics of writing—grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, consistency, etc. Copy Edits include a marked-up manuscript, Style Sheet & Terms List, and Editorial Letter--all tailored to your unique manuscript. Due to liability reasons, Copy Edits do not include fact checking.
Proofreading occurs after the manuscript is typeset and involves catching any typographical, formatting, or design errors. Proofreading serves as one final editorial check to ensure the manuscript is error free before going to print. Due to liability reasons, Proofreading does not include fact checking.