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#EditingWeek: Copy editing or Proofreading?

Not everyone can afford editing services, but as writers, you also understand the importance of producing quality work, so let’s weigh your options to see which editing service you should sign up for when the budget is tight.

Do I really need both?

Many suggest that you go through at least one-round of self-editing once you’re done writing your book. Self-editing is when you review your manuscript yourself by reading it from beginning to end to catch minor typos or inconsistencies in your story. After, many writers send their manuscript to an editor for at least copy editing. The most common issue with any manuscript is wordiness and repetition, which affects the conciseness and readability of your book. Content editing dives deeper into these topics, but if you want to polish up glaring wordiness issues, copy editing will resolve most of them.

Once your manuscript has gone through a round of copy editing, you’ll likely make a few changes to your text. Thus, it’s suggested to submit your manuscript for proofreading. Even the best editors make mistakes. Whenever you select editing and proofreading services, you’ll get two separate team members looking at your work. An editor will review your manuscript for developmental, content, and/or copy editing, while a proofreader will review your manuscript for proofreading.

Proofreading does not look at your manuscript as detailed as copy or content editing, but it’s great to have someone look over your newly revised manuscript. Instead, writers see proofreaders as the final clean-up crew on your manuscript so that they can catch the missing commas and minor tense issues.

What's the difference? Isn't proofreading and copy editing the same?

Copy editing is a more in-depth form of editing that goes beyond proofreading. Proofreading really just catches typos, missing commas, extra spaces, and grammar tense issues. Copy editing focuses on line-by-line edits, meaning that the editor will read each sentence and consider whether the words in that sentence give the best impact. Editors will offer suggestions on improving word choice to strengthen your writing, highlight potentially wordy or awkward sentences, and help you catch unnecessary repetition.

It is typical for proofreaders to have fewer markups than editors because proofreaders are not looking at your manuscript in-depth. However, the process is very similar because both proofreaders and editors are reading your manuscript and offering feedback.

Therefore, the perfect analogy to explain the difference between a proofreader and an editor is to think of a combo. Whether you order just the hamburger or the combo, you are still getting a meal and something that will fill your stomach. However, proofreading is like ordering just the hamburger while editing is the combo because you’re getting more in your order with the drink and fries.

Which should I choose if I only hire one?

Personally, if your budget is tight, you should at least hire a proofreader to review your work. Having a second pair of eyes to review your book before it’s published is better than having no one else look over your work. In addition, proofreading is typically charged at a lower rate than the other editing services because it focuses more on syntax errors than the actual content.

If your budget is tight but you’re willing to put a bit more into the editing process, then I would suggest getting your manuscript copy-edited. Copy editing includes proofreading, so I find this is a better overall value because you get all the things included in proofreading plus feedback on word choice and wordiness. I will talk more about budget-friendly options in tomorrow’s post.

If you are considering editing services for your book, feel free to contact me to discuss all available options.

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