How Is AI Affecting Our Editing Practice?

by Lesley-Anne Longo

Published at 2024-03-20

This week, in our series on artificial intelligence, I’m looking at AI tools and how these might be affecting our editing practice. While these new tools are exciting and powerful, it’s important to do your research before using them on a written work. 


What Tools Are Available?

It’s certainly exciting to think of how AI tools might be applied to the work of editing. Just imagine how a computer algorithm equipped with a house style guide as its learning base could run through a manuscript, automatically fixing and correcting as it goes, everything from incorrect usage to typos to punctuation!

Well…kind of. We do have technology like that today, such as ChatGPT,, or ProWritingAid.

These tools “read” through a manuscript and look for many things, from doing basic grammar and spelling checks to more complex tasks such as correcting for style, tone, consistency, plot analysis, and even suggestions for better sentence structure.

In researching this blog, I came across the AI tool Marlowe that claims to evaluate a manuscript and provide a high-level critique and expert analysis of a manuscript, rolling a “beta reader, developmental editor, and copy editor into one”—or so it claims. For more on this tool, check back next week for a more in-depth discussion by Michael Bedford.

One software on the market that is an “automated editing program” but not AI is PerfectIt. This software can be customized to apply house style rules, check consistency of usage, help eliminate typos, and basically evaluate a document in many ways that an editor would. (For more information on PerfectIt, check out our editor's in-depth review of the software.

PerfectIt does not use AI and the company behind it prides itself on not being an AI tool. It does so for the main reason of security. PerfectIt never connects to the internet, ever, so users can rest assured that no data will ever leave their machine.

To appeal to users who want to try applying AI technology to their writing, the makers of PerfectIt offer another software called DraftSmith, which is a writing refiner that works directly in Word to help writers work with multilingual authors, trim word counts, simplify text for readability, and more. If you really want to try AI, that might be a good place to start.

So, there are tools out there that can help editors complete their work without attempting to replace their role entirely. But how effective are these editorial AI tools?


What AI Tools Can—and Cannot—Do

While AI book editors can offer valuable assistance, it’s important to note that they can’t replace the nuanced insights and subjective judgement provided by human editors. One of the most important facets of the editing process is the human connection that editors bring to the table. So, it’s generally inadvisable to use AI tools to replace editorial decisions that rely on that human connection.

AI doesn’t have the capability to understand key editorial tenets such as “do no harm” and “maintain the author’s voice.” It’s also important to remember that AI technology has some serious limitations when it comes to recognizing human emotion, understanding context, and providing creativity in storytelling.

And, while an AI tool can evaluate your work, it cannot understand and interpret what you’ve written. This can lead to issues when writers bend or break grammar rules on purpose, as a stylistic choice. Writing is a creative pursuit, and such rules are often broken as a writer finds their unique voice.

As a writer, if you’re playing around with stylistic choices in your manuscript and run it through an AI editing tool, the tool will not understand why you’ve made the choices you have—it will only know that those decisions are the “wrong” ones.


Security Concerns

One thing I hadn’t considered myself when researching and writing for this blog series is that using AI tools on a working manuscript can create issues when it comes to security and intellectual property protections.

Why? Well, if you use an AI tool that is continuously learning, how do you think it continues that learning process? By being fed new data, right? It “reads” and stores that data in its knowledge bank to call upon later. So, if you run your manuscript through an AI tool, the tool will store that information, that text, in its knowledge bank, meaning that your work is now out there in the ether.

Many editors use an editorial contract when working with authors to ensure protection of both parties and of the work itself. In the age of AI, this may be a good thing to have. So, if you’re an editor who features security or privacy clauses in your contract and you use AI tools, it might be a good idea to discuss these issues with the authors you work with, to make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of protection and privacy of the working manuscript.


How to Move Forward

If you are ready to try out some AI editing tools, make sure you do your research first! For now, it might be best to stick with tools that limit their capabilities to performing simple copyediting and proofreading tasks, such as identifying and correcting grammar and punctuation mistakes. These steps could help increase your speed and efficiency when editing without risking the tool taking too much on and attempting to suggest changes that would typically require a human touch.



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