Copyeditor vs. Editor, and other forms

This week, I want to focus on what a copyeditor is, what they do, and other forms of editing.

Copyeditor vs. Editor, what’s the difference? An editor determines the content of a text, e.g. newspaper, magazine, literary journal, etc. An editor is usually in charge of the whole piece doing submission calls, content editing, and formatting until the piece is ready for mass publication. In a traditional publishing house, it’s passed on to a copyeditor.

A copyeditor edits the copy, or writing. They usually cover everything in the editing process. A copyeditor:

  • corrects grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax
  • checks for technical consistency in spelling, syntax, capitalization, font usage, numerals, and hyphenation
  • checks for continuity errors
  • checks incorrect factually¬†statements (mainly nonfiction)
  • checks potential legal liability
  • checks for any story inconsistencies, such as in plot points, setting, and character descriptions/motivations

A copyeditor checks the story has the three C’s: consistent, cohesive, and complete. A copyeditor can edit fictional stories, nonfiction memoirs, articles, and academic essays. In a traditional publishing house, the writer will need two forms of editing before querying to traditional publishers. Hiring a copyeditor isn’t advisable as editors will push the story to their copyeditor for a final lookover. For self-publishing writers, a copyeditor is the last step in the process before self-publication.

While hiring a professional copyeditor is an important building block for publication, take in consideration two other forms of copyediting:

  • Manuscript critique – the editor reads your manuscript and prepares a broad, comprehensive critique. This usually entails advice on developing a stronger narrative, better pacing, and engaging characters. This form of copyediting is the first step before the comprehensive critique.
  • Comprehensive critique – in-depth, thorough edit that tackles the manuscript line by line. The editor cuts wordy sentences and tightens the language in a manuscript, essay, or article.

The two forms above are advisable for writers who want to query to traditional publishers. For self-publish writers or academia writers, a manuscript critique is highly recommended as it gives you an idea to how your ideas are being expressed. After this, hire a copyeditor who can tackle your manuscript as a whole.

Check out this article for more information about copyeditors and other forms of editing.