Who needs a line and copy-edit?
In an ideal world, every novel should go through a line and copy-edit before it’s published. If you’re planning to self-publish, a line and copy-edit will help improve the quality of your manuscript. If you’re going to submit your novel to agents/publishers, I generally don’t recommend having your manuscript line and copy-edited – the publisher will have this done for you.
Where does line and copy-editing fit in the publishing process?
Line and copy-editing should only be carried out once you’re completely happy with your story as a whole. There will be no more opportunity for rewriting and redrafting once your manuscript has been submitted for editing! For this reason, this service comes after any big-picture feedback (such as a manuscript critique) but before a proofread.
Will my manuscript be error-free after a line and copy-edit?
Probably not, though that’s always the aim. It’s impossible for every error to be caught in a single pass. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders says: ‘A good copy-editor picks up 80% of errors; a good proofreader picks up 80% of what’s left.’ Remember, though, that a line and copy-edit also helps you improve your writing – as well as catch as many pesky errors as possible.
What if I just want a proofread?
Your manuscript can’t technically be proofread until it’s been edited (and, better still, typeset). If you skip the copy-editing stage, anyone you hire to do a proofread will technically be conducting a copy-edit for you!