A copy edit is a specific editing service with a focus on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, consistency, pacing, flow, redundancies, tenses, dialog correction, transitions, clarity, general improvement, and readability.
Let’s get this out of the way right away. The correct way to write copy edit is as two words. It’s not copyedit. People may confuse it becuse a similar word is copywriting and not copy writing.
It’s a sentence level edit and doesn’t change the author’s voice or content. It’s not looking at your content, but rather looking at it at a sentence level. A developmental edit looks at content as a whole and the reason both aren’t combined into one type of editing service is that it’s hard for an editor to focus on both at the same time. Most good copy editors will write developmental notes or point out issues they catch that fall outside the scope of a copy edit as a side note.
Every Copy Edit Definition is Different
When it comes to book editing, a copy edit is the most popular type of editing. Every editor will have a slightly different way they define and provide a copy edit. There is so much wiggle room in how an editor applies their edit that picking the right copy editor can become a frustrating experience. Most copy editors provide a sample edit to help you compare editors and find the service you are looking for.
The general elements are in most copy edits, however, how they are applied can differ.
What’s the Difference Between a Copy Editing and a Line Editing?
The elements of a line edit are in a copy edit; however, a line edit is a focus on structure and flow. A line editor will restructure and improve how things read, ignoring the other elements found in a copy edit. It’s usually better to get a copy edit with a request for a focus on structure and flow.
A line edit is a lot more open to interpretation than a copy edit. Every line editor will be drastically different. They don’t change content or voice, but how it’s being stated will differ.
What a Copy Edit Doesn’t Provide
A copy editor won’t rewrite the content or add content. As an editor, I often get requests to improve content, however, a copy editor doesn’t change content or voice. They don’t add it or change it. Authors looking for writing should look for a ghostwriter.
Copy editors typically don’t provide formatting. These are two very different services and to an author, it might be similar but it’s like hiring a graphic designer for your cover and marketing in one. A professional-level formatter won’t offer professional-level copy editing or any other services.
Finding a Copy Editor
Besides EDITMOJO you can find copy editors all over Google and freelance sites. Fees are all over the place so always find one within your budget that also provides sample edits so you can check out their work.
When communicating with a copy editor, be sure to state your deadline up front. There’s nothing worse for both parties after going through your needs and a sample edit to find that the copy editor is booked past your deadline. A professional copy editor will have a queue of edits lined up and turnaround time will differ day to day. Finishing your book may take only five days but due to the queue, it may take twenty.
What are a Copy Editing Costs?
A basic proofread that just looks at grammar and punctuation will be cheap. A copy edit is a more advanced form of editing that can lean toward the side of cheap and provide more of a proofread, which is why sample edits are so important. A standard copy edit for a well-written document would be around $10 per 1,000 words. Documents that need heavy edits can go up to $30 per 1,000 words. Examples of heavy edits would be transcribed, translated or non-native English speaker documents.
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