It would be great if you did a post on the best things we can do if we can't afford a full-editing service, Nicola. I'm on a strict family income and spending on my writing just can't take centre stage. I can save and build some money to use, and would love to know the best way to spend it to get the best advice for my work. I can see how important outside proof reading and editing can be, so I want to get it right with my limited resources!
- Editing - a "global" edit, looking for "big" things such as: structural flaws, problems with characterisation, inconsistencies or unbelievability of plot, and stylistic hiccups and voice or pov issues. This sort of editor will point out the flaws and suggest changes. YOU make the changes. Editors will also point out smaller things that they happen to notice, but it is not their job. (If you are looking for more detail, you need to ask for the next editing levels.)
- Copy-editing - a copy-editor checks for smaller errors, everything from inconsistencies and sentences or phrases that don't sound quite right to spelling and punctuation errors. A copy-editor would not be expected to make judgements about characterisation or plot.
- Proof-reading - proof-reading happens after the copy-edited work is typeset (for printed books) or formatted (for ebooks). In practice, proof-reading may happen before ebook formatting but it can only be done on a "final" document because the proof-reader is also looking for layout errors and appearance on the "page". The proof-reader checks for typos of any sort, including tiny things such as a double character space (they must be single) or a word which is hyphenated or capitalised in one place and not another. A good proof-reader would notice small points missed by the copy-editor, but a proof-reader should not be expected to undertake that stage unless agreed.