Copy and line editing explained
A copyedit fixes things at a technical level: changes are made to improve the accuracy, consistency, and flow of the text, and errors are corrected. An industry style guide is applied (such as Chicago for US English, and New Hart’s Rules for UK English), and a style sheet created for the book. This keeps track of changes and ensures consistency. A copyedit may also include some light formatting if required, such as chapter headings, page breaks, scene breaks, and indents.
Line editing is slightly more stylistic and in-depth. It looks at flow, sense, word choice, passages that could read better, and so on. This article provides a good overview of the differences between the two. Essentially, rather than focusing on correcting technical mistakes, line editing focuses on improving your writing stylistically, and helping you to become a better writer.
I edit in Microsoft Word, using the Track Changes feature. This is the easiest way for you to see and understand my edits and comments. I’m able to work on both US and UK English.
Which one do you need?
For self-publishing authors, I do a combined edit, including both copyediting and line editing tasks. This means a more well-rounded edit, covering all bases, both technical and stylistic.
If you’re seeking traditional publication, copyediting would be provided by your publisher. You won’t need to pay for that service independently. If you’re concerned about sentence-level issues before you submit, a line edit on its own may be beneficial to smooth out your work before submission.
Every project is unique and requires a different level of editorial intervention. This is why it’s difficult to put a fixed price on editing without knowing more about the project first. Prices vary depending on length and complexity, and how long the edit will take. I’ll always ask to see a sample before providing a quote in full. To get an idea of what to expect, have a look at the CIEP’s suggested minimum rates and the Editorial Freelancers Association’s rate chart. If we decide to work together, I require a 25% booking deposit that is non-refundable.
Do you do sample edits?
Yes. I charge a small fee for a 1,000 word sample, which is deducted from your price if we end up working together. Many experienced professional editors charge for these, for a variety of reasons. A small number of authors try to cheat editors into doing free work (not cool), which is why I choose to charge. I go into this in more depth in a blog post here.
If you ever need an editor, Rachel is AMAZING. She’s so nice, professional, and understanding. Working with her has been great!
– Kristen Hynes, YA author
The thing that convinced me to keep going was the quality of your editing and the dedication you put into it – you didn’t just point to the issues, you came to me with real, constructive ideas and suggestions. These are very helpful to a non-native English speaker, since showing me what you mean can make up for thousands of words of advice. What’s more, you did all this while truly respecting my voice and authorial style. I am impressed.
– Catherine Stowe, sci-fi/thriller author
I can’t praise Rachel enough. From the first conversation we had, I could see how professional she was, but, more importantly, how much she genuinely wanted to help bring my projects to life. Her editing skills are top-quality, not only catching and highlighting issues for me to address but giving me detailed feedback and critiques to help me improve as a writer. As an added bonus, every deadline was met and work was delivered promptly, which helped me keep to my own schedules. I look forward to working with her on future projects!
– Dave McCreery, sci-fi author