Looking for a professional copy editor?

You're in luck, the best editors are already on Reedsy

Sign up with or Google

What is copy editing?

Copy editors are mechanics for language: they edit your book’s text, otherwise known as “copy.” Fiction or non-fiction, academic or populist, thriller or sci-fi, copy editors help create the most readable version of your book. They’ll make sure your manuscript isn’t riddled with bad grammar, spelling mistakes, or glaring inconsistencies. They won’t enter into big-picture issues such as characterization, plot or pacing; instead they will go through the manuscript line by line and focus on all the little things you might not have thought about. They’ll catch scenes in which your antagonist is wearing sunglasses and spectacles at the same time. They’ll save your tone and style from unintentionally wild shifts between sections. They’ll pull your book together page by page. But where can you find a meticulous copy editor with the right experience to take your manuscript to the next level?

Look no further, here are some professionals who can help!

Create your Reedsy account to request free quotes and advice.

Melissa Caminneci
Melissa Caminneci

Experienced freelance copy editor, proofreader, and book proposal writer. Formerly of Little, Brown and Company and The Monacelli Press.

view profile
Kristen Stieffel
Kristen Stieffel

Fantasy and science fiction specialist. I focus on the Christian submarket but also edit fiction and nonfiction for the general market.

view profile
Maria Lewytzkyj-Milligan
Maria Lewytzkyj-Milligan

I successfully completed fifty projects specializing in political and current events, leadership, suspense thrillers, romance and history.

view profile
Rachel Eley
Rachel Eley

A highly proficient and reliable copy editor and proofreader, with over 10 years' experience from some of the UK's leading book publishers.

view profile
Lindsay Humphreys
Lindsay Humphreys

A professional editor with specialized education and over 15 years of experience, 10 of which were spent in-house at a major book publisher.

view profile

Sign up with or Google

The different standards of copy editing

Individual copy editors consult a range of manuals for copy editing. These include The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, and Words into Type. Editors also set a specific dictionary as the authority, such as Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Using these references as guides, copy editors will correct errors and fix inconsistencies in details like number treatment (should it be a numeral or spelled out?), compound words (should it be open, closed, or hyphenated?), and punctuation (should it be a comma or semicolon?). For example, on this page we’ve decided to write “copy editing” and “copy editor” without hyphenation. And then we’ve had a copy editor take a look at it to make sure we had done so consistently. To keep track of the styles in use in a single manuscript, copy editors create a style sheet as they edit. A novel’s style sheet should include notes on typography, punctuation, numbers, and spellings; a list of characters, real people, and places; and a timeline of events. A detailed style sheet is an organized way for an editor to maintain consistency and communicate a manuscript’s style to the author and future proofreaders.

What changes are covered by a copy editor?

A professional copy editor will thoroughly work through your text, making changes that perfect your manuscript by improving accuracy, grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and eliminating redundancies in your text. Related to this, a good editor will also ensure consistency of style, checking that your own personal style remains intact through smaller details such as hyphenation and capitalization. One of the overall improvements that a copy editor can make to your manuscript is strengthening the prose throughout. They will substitute weak words, phrases, and sentences with powerful alternatives, often even restructuring sentences for improved clarity. Once your manuscript has been copy edited, it will be more efficient, accurate, and focused on your voice. In fact, your manuscript will be in such good shape that it will be ready to be typeset and then reviewed by a proofreader.

What is the difference between line editing and copy editing?

“Line editing” is a term we’ve chosen not to use in our our editing services definitions. This is because its meaning can vary wildly depending on whether you’re in the UK — where it’s akin to proofreading — or in North America — where it’s an intermediary step between developmental and copy editing. In its US definition, line editing addresses the creative content of a manuscript, rather than mechanics like punctuation, grammar, factual correctness and consistency. The line editor looks at the author’s use of language, and offers advice to improve the readability of a manuscript. They will address issues like baggy dialogue, tonal inconsistencies, run-on sentences, and other such tics that may affect the reading experience. Most copy editors on Reedsy are also trained in line editing, and will seek to correct both creative content and mechanical issues in their editing pass. In other words, most copy editors will both line edit and copy edit, which is why we’ve chosen to skip this “step” in our definitions, and recommend authors first hire a developmental editor, then a copy editor, and finally a proofreader.

Connect with a professional editor

Create your Reedsy account to request free quotes and advice.

Melissa Caminneci
Melissa Caminneci

Experienced freelance copy editor, proofreader, and book proposal writer. Formerly of Little, Brown and Company and The Monacelli Press.

view profile
Kristen Stieffel
Kristen Stieffel

Fantasy and science fiction specialist. I focus on the Christian submarket but also edit fiction and nonfiction for the general market.

view profile
Maria Lewytzkyj-Milligan
Maria Lewytzkyj-Milligan

I successfully completed fifty projects specializing in political and current events, leadership, suspense thrillers, romance and history.

view profile
Rachel Eley
Rachel Eley

A highly proficient and reliable copy editor and proofreader, with over 10 years' experience from some of the UK's leading book publishers.

view profile
Lindsay Humphreys
Lindsay Humphreys

A professional editor with specialized education and over 15 years of experience, 10 of which were spent in-house at a major book publisher.

view profile

Articles related to editing

Recommended just for you.

What to look for when you're looking for an editor

Your editor’s job is to point out flaws and guide your creativity—sensitive manoeuvres both. Does this person make you feel embarrassed or inspired? Capable or cut-to-size? Find someone who makes a safe space for your creativity, mistakes and all. read more

writers&artists

How authors and editors can work better together

When you hire an editor, you are not giving over your precious darling to be defaced and remoulded. You’re paying for a professional eye; a sympathetic assistant who will work to a set of consistent criteria and help you to make your book as good as it possibly can be. read more

reedsyblog

How much does it cost to get a book copy edited?

The cost of copy editing and proofreading services is a linear function of the word count. The average cost for copy editing a book is $1.7 per word, so around $1,360 for an 80,000-word manuscript. read more

reedsyblog