Copyediting addresses flaws on a technical level. As your copy editor, I will focus on spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, semantics, consistency, numerals, fonts, and capitalization, as well as the continuity of plot, setting, and character traits.
- Corrects spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax
- Ensures consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization
- Corrects dialogue tags
- Fact checks
- Examines POV/tense (flag, or if possible, fix any unintentional shifts)
- Examines word usage and repetition
- Checks for potential legal liability (flag potential libel or copyright issues)
- Descriptive inconsistencies (character descriptions, locations, etc)
- Accuracy of scenes (medical situations, police scenarios, legal scenes)
- Flags tracking/continuity problems
- Flags plot holes
How to Know if You’re Ready for Copyediting
Copyediting occurs when your manuscript is in its final stages. The copyediting process typically happens after you have been through beta reading, developmental editing, and line editing, but before you undertake formatting, layout/design, and a final proofread.
Unless requested otherwise, I use The Chicago Manual of Style, or CMOS, as a standard reference for fiction editing. The CMOS is considered industry standard in the US. As for dictionaries, I typically refer to Merriam-Webster as my standard when editing fiction for US-based authors.
While these are my standard references, I am always willing to take into consideration an author’s personal style and preferences when editing fiction.
A part of the copyediting service is the development of a style sheet. It is provided to you at no extra cost. A style sheet is a separate document that tracks a number of aspects of your novel, including:
- Character names and proper spelling
- Any words that have special treatment (i.e. italics, bold, capitalization, etc.)
- Details regarding setting and any other important story information
- Unique proper nouns used throughout the novel
- Deviations from The Chicago Manual of Style or other style guides
- Matters of the author’s personal preference when style rules are open to interpretation
This document is an important part of maintaining consistency throughout the copyediting and subsequent proofreading process. If you are composing a series, it will also assist you in maintaining consistency across each book.