Writing a story takes blood, sweat, and tears, and the process of revising one’s own work takes time and dedication. All this hard work culminates in a promising manuscript, but in order to achieve the most success, a manuscript needs the attention of a professional editor. To receive the best editing, it’s important to know what to ask for—and that requires knowing the levels of editing offered.
For many aspiring freelance editors, proofreading is the best (and in some cases, the only) way to get a foot in the door. But what are proofreaders actually looking for?
Unlike copyediting, which focuses purely on the text, proofreaders engage with the book after the interior has been designed and laid out. That means that in addition to keeping an eye out for egregious grammar errors and typos, the proofreader is focused on aesthetics: eliminating typographic gaffes such as widows, orphans, and runts; marking bad breaks and word stacks; and ensuring design elements such as subheads and running heads are handled consistently.
Ultimately, each kind of editing can mean different things to different editors. But even when you have the lines between the various types of editing more clearly defined, certain styles of editing can bleed over between types and others cannot. It all depends on timing and the needs of the manuscript or publishing house.
Lately, I’ve been seeing an influx of advertisements for online grammar checkers on almost all of my social media accounts. For a while now, I’ve tried to ignore them, chalking up the barrage of ads to the internet gods knowing how to market to a book lover, but I’ve begun to wonder what these online checkers mean for today’s writers and editors.
The compilation edit is unique to the operations of our teaching press, but coordinating this type of edit has been an invaluable learning experience for me as an editing professional. Editorial work is often more of a flexible art than a task that follows a standard procedure, as there are many ways to work with an author to bring out the best in their work.