29 May Q & A of the Month : What’s the difference between a structural edit and a copy edit?
A structural edit is the first major overhaul your manuscript will go through. Rather than going through line by line, it’s about the whole shape of the narrative. An editor will send 10 – 20 pages of notes with page references to accompany the edit. They will comment on things like: is the story dragging, why isn’t his character more developed, the story loses its way in this chapter.
A copy edit, in contrast, goes through the text line by line. These days it’s usually done by track changes. It fixes grammatical errors, punctuation, inconsistencies with names, etc. It comes after the structural edit and is often quicker because you don’t need to fix major parts of the manuscript – although it can be more fiddly.
After that, comes the proof read. This is the final stage of bringing a book or a writing project to completion.