Substantive (Comprehensive) Editing

In addition to helping you resolve that saggy middle or upgrading your hook, substantive editing goes a few steps beyond the full-length evaluation, including invaluable page-by-page feedback and suggestions, plus phone time with your editor to brainstorm solutions and new angles.

A substantive edit includes in-depth examination of:


  • cutting your word count, where needed
  • deep line editing (see below; based on budget needs)
  • style/voice
  • point-of-view
  • dialogue
  • setting
  • “high concept” level (originality/appeal to the audience)
  • plot structure
  • pacing
  • world-creation (sci-fi/fantasy)
  • characterization
  • suspense/tension
  • audience and genre awareness
  • increasing marketability
  • effectiveness of your ending
  • (plus your editor will brainstorm solutions with you via the phone)


  • style/voice
  • logic and power of an argument
  • cohesiveness of ideas
  • organization
  • general rhetorical issues and your angle
  • suggestions on increasing marketability or better meeting the needs of your target audience (making it more compelling)
  • cutting your word count, where needed
  • deep line editing (see below; based on budget needs)
  • plus includes phone-based brainstorming with your editor on revision ideas and marketability solutions)

Deep Line Editing (Prose Execution

With substantive editing, it’s not just your ideas or plot that matter. Your words are important when executing that plot or idea, and they’re even more important to the success of your writing career—especially if you intend to court the attention of highly coveted agents and publishers. This service is generally part of substantive editing, above (or can be, depending on your budget), and is one to consider if you’re pursuing excellence and/or a serious writing career and you’re ready to move your manuscript toward being submission or production (self-pub) ready. It includes editing or reworking some or all of the prose in order to further refine the big-picture issues above and solidify the power and meaning of the prose.

IRebecca Rhode asked Eschler Editing for help with plot and structure on my novel Numbers Game—and also issued a challenge: I needed 20K words cut from my manuscript. Their feedback resulted in a much tighter plot.

Numbers Game soared on Amazon—hitting #1 in two categories (passing up Divergent and Hunger Games a couple times) and is now an international bestseller; so I’m pretty happy!

Just for comparison, I later tried another content editor and the service was far inferior. Plus, if you’re looking for next steps after content feedback, I can honestly say that Eschler Editing has the best line editors I’ve found.  In short, I definitely recommend them!

Rebecca Rode |

Your investment:

  • Fiction or nonfiction: Generally anywhere from $300 to 2,000+ depending on unique manuscript needs (length, genre, editorial work involved; footnotes, graphics, unique style guide requirements, etc., may require additional charges)—very short works may be less
  • This type of work is bid per project and requires the editor to review the entire work since editing needs can range from lighter to  requiring substantial reorganization, line editing, some ghosting, etc. Your editor will provide price ranges for different levels of substantive editing that span from simply pointing out probems to fixing them and/or refining the prose in support of the substantive solutions.
  • When you would like deep prose adjustments (a word-by-word review) included in your substantive edit, we generally refer to this as a comprehensive edit. This edit may take place in one or two phases (in case you want to do any rewriting between each level of feedback) and will be bid accordingly. Please see our expanded description of in-depth line editing for more details regarding what is included in that phase.


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