The Difference between Editing and Proofreading

There are different types of editing done on books and manuscripts before the publishing process. It can be hard to figure out which one you need and when. We’ll explore the difference between editing and proofreading and when in the writing process they occur.

Handing a manuscript over to a complete stranger that you just poured hours, days, weeks, and months, not to mention your heart into, can be daunting but it is one of the best things you can do to insure a positive response after publishing. You would much rather hear something negative from your editor before publishing than from negative reviews after publishing. That’s not to say you won’t have ANY negative reviews. They happen and they are often good learning experiences but a good editor will help keep negative reviews in regards to editing to a minimum. So let’s dive in and look at the different types of editing and when they occur. We’ll start with the first one you encounter after writing a book.

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing occurs early on in the writing process and cannot be substituted for the other two. They are completely separate since so much writing occurs after this point. It is usually the very next step after you write the book.

It is very time-consuming and can take 4 weeks depending on length.  Most of the time, it includes 4 rounds of going through the manuscript with guidance given in story development, character refining, filling plot holes, scene tightening, world construction, and pacing/conflict/tension considerations. It includes some marking of obvious errors and inconsistencies in syntax, plot, setting, characters, font, graphics, rules, along with spelling, grammar, typos, capitalization, punctuation, and spacing. However, since there is more writing left to do usually, it cannot be construed as error-free and ready for publication at that point.

Copyediting or Line Editing

Copyediting is the second-to-last review to make sure everything is consistent, cohesive, and complete. It’s more time-consuming than proofreading so it could take up to 1-2 weeks.  It’s usually 2-3 rounds of going through the manuscript marking errors and inconsistencies in syntax, plot, setting, characters, font, graphics, rules, along with spelling, grammar, typos, capitalization, punctuation, and spacing.

Copyediting does not include marking errors and inconsistencies in syntax, plot, setting, characters, font, graphics, and rules. It is also known as Line Editing.

Proofreading

Proofreading is the final review before publishing.  At this point, the manuscript should be completely ready for publication.  Depending on the length of the manuscript, it could take up to a week.  It’s usually 1-2 rounds of going through the manuscript marking errors in spelling, grammar, typos, capitalization, punctuation, and spacing. It does not include marking errors and inconsistencies in syntax, plot, setting, characters, font, graphics, rules, guidance in story development, character refining, filling plot holes, scene tightening, world construction, and pacing/conflict/tension considerations. 

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