Copyediting vs Proofreading – What’s the Big Deal?


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So you’ve finally finished your manuscript; months, sometimes years of hard work and you’ve got that first draft, second or third draft down. And now you’re asking yourself, what’s next? You want to send it off to a publisher, but they’ll ask you – have you had this Copyedited, have you had this Proofread? But what are those? And what’s the difference?

What's Copyediting?

Let’s start with the basics. What’s Copyediting? Your Copyeditor will ensure that you’ve used the right language to write your book. That means that you’ve used words that will reflect the type of story you want to tell. For example, Stephen King uses dark, ominous vocabulary in his horror novels because he wants to create an eerie and scary atmosphere for his readers.

The Copyeditor will also be checking for “readability”. When you pick up a book, if you’re struggling to get through the sentences because the phrasing is confusing, you’re just going to put it down again. No one is going to read a book that doesn’t make sense – this is why readability is so important. Copyeditors will help you to make your point in a more clear and concise way. You might have used a lot of technical words or jargon, but you want as many people to be able to read and understand your book as possible. A Copyeditor will make your book readable to the widest audience possible.

With this in mind, they’ll also be checking for anomalies. Writing a book is an arduous and long process and that means we can make mistakes. Sometimes we might get the character name wrong, or forget which setting they’re in – these are anomalies and the Copyeditor can spot these. Once again, it’s all about readability. If a reader doesn’t understand, for example, which character is speaking, then they’re going to get confused and less likely to keep reading. They’ll also check for incorrect facts and inconsistencies.

What's Proofreading?

What’s Proofreading? In short, your Proofreader will check for grammatical errors. Often in large manuscripts it’s easy to make some grammatical mistakes; missing commas, incorrect capitalisation, missing punctuation in speech; this is why it’s always pertinent to have a Proofreader look over your text. When you’re writing, you don’t want to be worrying about your grammar, you want to be tapping into your creativity. A Proofreader is going to find these errors and fix them for you.

They’ll also be looking for grammar inconsistencies and formatting issues. For example, ensuring you use the same type of speech mark throughout or type of paragraphing. This consistency will mean the reader can concentrate solely on the heart of the story and not get distracted.

Other edits

So that’s what a Copyeditor and Proofreader do. But what don’t they do? A Copyeditor and Proofreader won’t critique or change your characterisation, plot or pacing. This is a separate service in which you can invest. So what are these and when do you need them? If you’re writing a story series, something like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, you’re going to have a myriad of characters to keep track of. This can be a mean feat for just one person and can become quickly confusing. However, you can get a Character Edit. The Character Editor will help you whose who, how they relate and if their characterisation works. Similarly, if you’re writing a fantasy or thriller, you can invest in a Plot Editor, and they’ll help you keep your plot on point, and get rid of plot holes. These are just some of the services you can get to enhance your novel.

Ultimately, you want your book to be as readable as possible! This why investing in Copyediting and Proofreading is so important. Your book should be the best possible version of itself as it can be – this will lead to more readers, more positive publicity and ultimately, more sales!