Copy Editing and Content Editing: What’s the Difference?

Writers can find the process of editing scary and sometimes confusing. Last week we laid out the reasons every writer needs an editor. But, maybe trying to figure out what kind of editor still seems daunting. Today we are going to break down the two types of editors you will encounter most.
When it comes to getting your book published you will deal with several editors, or just one, depending on the publishing route you take. With traditional publishing you may work with any combination of the following: an acquisitions editor, a project editor, a content editor, a copy editor. What they do and how they help you get your book published can be confusing.

At Lucid Books you will work with just one editor. As discussed here you don’t need a literary agent or even a complete manuscript to get a meeting with us. We don’t have an acquisitions manager that goes through potential manuscripts. Though we do have a project manager and an editor-in-chief, and they will be in contact with you, they will not be giving you notes on your work. The only person you will be discussing any real changes to your manuscript with will be the editor that you hire. Depending on how far along your book is and how much work it needs will dictate which of the two basic types of edit it will get.

Copy Editing: If your manuscript is finished and ready to be published all you need is a copy edit. This means that the editor will read through your manuscript and look for spelling, grammatical, and consistency errors. Basically, they will catch anything that your auto-correct brain didn’t catch. If you had a content edit already, you might want to have a copy edit done as well before print.

Content Editing: This is also known as developmental editing. This is for authors who need help finishing their book or those whose writing is in need of assistance. Not to say that it is bad, but perhaps they need help with transitions or proving arguments or perhaps character or story line development. Content editing is much deeper than copy editing. Content editing looks at wording, logic behind arguments or story, and paragraph and chapter placement. The edits here will be much more critical, but you have to be honest with yourself as a writer and seek out professional help in this area when you need it.

No matter what type of edit you decide to go with, just remember that your editor wants your book to be the best that it can be, just like you do. They are not out to get you, they are there to help you.