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What is the difference between copyediting and proofreading?

Copyediting is all about the micro level and includes the following:

  • Correct typos

  • Correct basic grammar (unless changes affect author/character voice)

  • Correct punctuation

  • Correct nonverbal dialogue tags

  • Make style consistent: spelling, capitalization, hyphens, dashes, italics, ellipses, etc.

  • Flag content inconsistency from chapter to chapter: character hair color, eye color, ages, wardrobe, motivations, setting, etc.

  • Verify basic facts (i.e., geography, dates, accuracy of plot timeline

  • Flag tracking/continuity problems

  • Flag plot holes

  • Flag potential libel (disparaging remarks about real places/people)

  • Flag any potential copyright issues (song lyrics, poetry, advertising jingles, extensive/numerous excerpts from other publication(s), other copyrighted material not owned by the author)

  • Flag confirmed anachronisms

  • Flag repetition (both content and verbal) and offer solutions

  • Flag ambiguous vocabulary (and offer solutions)

  • Flag awkward phrasing (and offer solutions)

  • Flag jargon (niche/medical/professional/historical terms) if meaning is obscure

My service will address the above issues and includes two complete passes. Also, if your copyeditor is a good one, they’ll provide you with a style sheet outlining formatting choices, punctuation rules, the spelling of proper nouns, and any exceptions to established conventions. I include this in my service if you don't provide me with one of your own. Copyediting DOES NOT include: developmental editing, line editing, or content editing.

Proofreading is a final check for errors that were not caught during prior rounds of editing (or that were introduced during editing). It is not a replacement for copyediting or “big picture” (developmental) editing.  Proofreading addresses the following:


  • Typos

  • Spelling errors

  • Inconsistencies in spelling and capitalization

  • Homonym errors (e.g., reign/rein, palette/pallet/palate)

  • Incorrect hyphenation (that is, whether a compound should be open, closed, or hyphenated)

  • Missing or duplicate words

  • Formatting issues

  • Conspicuous punctuation errors

My services includes only one pass through your manuscript. Proofreading DOES NOT include: creating a style sheet (unless you were not given one from another copyeditor), fact-checking, story-related issues, pacing, and writing style. More often than not, these two words are used interchangeably. They cover some of the same topics, but one is more "rifling through your panty drawer," while the other is just "checking out your ass."

Do I really need a copyeditor?

Uh, yes, you do. If your reader has to go over the same sentence again and again to understand what you’re trying to say, you’ve just interrupted narrative flow. Or if your dialogue leaves your reader wondering who is speaking, you’ve just wrecked readability. Just think of all the bad reviews you won't get if you let a copyeditor eye-bang your material.

When should I get my book copyedited?

After it’s completed, after your beta readers have eye-banged it, after you’ve had a chance to incorporate their feedback, and after a developmental edit (if applicable). But before proofreading. Copyediting should be one of the last things you do to prepare your book for publication.

So, what’s this style sheet you speak of?

Basically, style sheets are a powerful tool for ensuring stylistic consistency and accuracy within a manuscript. But I think Louise Harnby’s explanation encapsulates why I create one. Hell, you should even create one for yourself.

When should I get my book proofread?

Right before you sashay your ass down Publication Road. Or Literary Agent Row. It's the final step in the process, so you know you want to look hella good.

Can you copyedit and proofread simultaneously?

I can't speak for other editors, but I prefer not to do so. I recommend that editing clients contract me for a separate proofreading pass whenever time and budget allow. Here's why: proofreading needs to be performed on an already-edited manuscript rather than one that hasn’t yet been edited because proofing isn’t the time to make decisions about how to do things—it’s the time to ensure that the decisions already made have been uniformly enforced. Making these decisions while proofreading will distract me from spotting errors like typos or missing quotation marks, so it’s essential that the proofing pass consist only of proofreading if maximum accuracy is to be achieved.

Now, if an author who has previously hired me to copyedit a manuscript and then later hires me to perform a subsequent proofread of the same manuscript, I will use Word’s “Compare” function to compare the edited manuscript I returned to the author with the new version sent back to me for proofreading. This will ensure that the author hasn’t accidentally missed or rejected any of the fixes applied during the initial copyedit.  


I’m a traditionally published author. Will you still work with me?

Hells to the yeah! I may be a picky eater, but I'm not picky about my authors. Sort of. As long as you write adult romance and your material fits within my Reading Policy guidelines. I’m also willing to work with hybrids--authors who publish both traditionally and independently, not cars--and small publishers.


How long does it take you to beta read, copyedit, or proofread?

Beta Reading: 2-3 weeks. I can do a one-week Rush. But it's gonna cost ya. Contact me if you want this option.

Copyediting: 3-4 weeks. I do two complete passes and create a style sheet (if you didn’t create one yourself)

Proofreading: 2-3 weeks. I only do one complete pass and create a style sheet (if you didn't receive one from another copyeditor). I do not do Rush orders.

I’m on a budget! Can you help me?

I’ll do my best. I’m well aware that indie authors often don’t have the resources they’d like to invest in improving their books, especially when they’re first starting out. Too often, indie authors on a limited budget obtain the services they think they can afford rather than the ones their manuscripts really need. For example, an author whose manuscript is plagued by usage and style problems as well as gaping plot holes may seek “proofreading” rather than the substantive and line editing required, simply because proofreading is the cheapest service. For projects costing $300+, I offer three different types of payment plans. We can discuss this prior to scheduling your project so you can get services that fit your needs.