Authors are always asking me about the differences between proofreading, copy editing, and developmental editing. Isn’t it all the same thing, collectively knows as editing?

Nope! Be careful. Some editors quote a flat fee for ‘editing’ without specifying exactly what they will be doing. Watch out for this! Be clear about what your needs are and make sure you use the right terminology.


The editor corrects problems with style, language, and grammar, but does not work with the overall structural coherence of your manuscript. The goal is simply to correct mistakes and ensure consistency.

Developmental editing

The editor evaluates the manuscript and addresses problems related to structural, logical flow, and overall coherence. Sections of text may be changed or moved around, and recommendations made to the author to improve narrative issues such as pacing, characterisation, and voice. Also called structural editing.

Copy editing

As with a proofread, the editor corrects language and grammar mistakes, but also engages with paragraphs on a line-by-line level to improve syntax and flow. Some sections of text maybe changed or moved around to improve structure.

Still not sure what level of editing to go for?

Ask yourself:

✔ Am I happy with the structure, plot and pacing of my manuscript?
✔ Am I confident that my manuscript flows naturally and needs very little changing?
✔ Is my grammar and language nearly flawless?

If you answered yes to two of these questions, chances are you only need a copy edit. If you answered yes to all three, a proofread should be enough. If no to two or more – you might be in need of a developmental edit.

If you’re still not sure, send me a message to book a manuscript review!

Happy writing!