The first rule of editorial is “Two sets of eyes on everything.” Everyone — and we mean everyone — needs an editor. Even the most meticulous of writers needs a fresh set of eyes to review their work.
Which sort of book editing you need depends on a variety of factors, including your level of writing expertise, what stage your manuscript is in, and who your audience is, to name just a few. Here are the most common types of book editing, from the highest level to the nitty-gritty.
What It Is: Reviewing for pure grammar and punctuation when the rest of the manuscript is complete.
Why You Might Need It: Everyone needs a copyeditor before a work is published. Just when you need one is another issue. If you consider your manuscript complete and just need to have it reviewed for general issues such as spelling, punctuation, etc., you’re ready for a copyeditor. At this stage, the editor does not offer feedback on plot holes or fact-checking, although those issues may be noted if they are egregious (or the editor can’t help herself from pointing them out). It’s generally a good idea to have someone who has not worked on the manuscript in the previous stages do the copyedit, as anyone who is already familiar with the copy may be too close to the work to review it with fresh eyes.
What It Is: Reviewing the final manuscript layout for mistakes, both those that previously existed and those that may have occurred during the layout process.
Why You Might Need It: As with copyediting, every manuscript should go through at least one round of proofreading before it goes off to press. Because errors may have been introduced during the layout and design process, the proofreader makes a final review, checking both the main body copy as well as any captions, charts, tables, etc., that may have been added.
In the course of working with hundreds of clients over the last twenty years, we’ve tailored the process to each client’s customized needs. Some writers prefer to be more hands-on, while others prefer our editorial guidance. You could potentially slash your editing budget by allowing a professional to guide you in certain aspects of the process, rather than having the professional do the work for you.