What does an editor do?

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

People often ask me what the difference between proofreading and editing is, or why editing is not just called rewriting.

Some of my pointers here are drawn from what IPEd (the Institute of Professional Editors Limited, Australia’s national editing association) says to authors about how to tell your editor what you need, but most of it is drawn from this year’s experience running my own freelance business as an editor / proofreader (TJ Withers-Ryan).

Step 1: There are three types of “editing”:

1. Proofreading – spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Have you any words out? Are there any typos like eextra letters? Fixing formatting errors like weird italicisation.

2. Copy editing – the line-by-line level, rewriting bad sentences. Does each sentence make sense? Does the author have any *annoying* mannerisms, technical jargon, or other bumps in the road that is their writing? Includes cross-checking facts and figures mentioned. This takes longer but is still pretty straightforward.

3. Structural editing – the story as a whole. Does each chapter have a point to it? Are the characters acting in a way that is consistent with the plot and their own motivations? This takes ages.

So, first, you need to tell your editor what type of editing you need them to do.

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