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Definition from CIEP

‘Copy’ is any text to be published, from a company report to a novel to a T-shirt slogan. Copyediting is professional help to make a text ready for publication by ensuring that it’s clear, consistent, correct and complete. Copyediting focuses on the detail of a text: agreeing final content, making sure it reads well for its intended purpose, and applying consistency to the language and formatting. Once a text has been copyedited it is ready for the next stage: design and layout. CIEP

What is copyediting?

While developmental editing takes a bird’s eye view of your manuscript, copyediting zooms in and looks at your story at the micro level, examining it word by word. All editors work differently but a copyedit usually involves tasks like checking for consistency, fact checking, correcting spelling and punctuation, looking out for potential legal issues and flagging continuity errors in your story.

This stage should always come after a developmental edit because it’s likely you’ll be making some big changes to your manuscript – maybe even deleting whole chunks – after a dev edit or critique and it’s a waste to have text edited if it’s not definitely staying!

What do children’s authors need to know?

It’s a great idea to find a copyeditor who is familiar with your audience. An editor with experience working on middle grade and YA fiction will understand reader expectations, market norms and publishing conventions which will help them spot issues like inappropriate language, excessive violence, graphic sex scenes, a voice that sounds too young or too old, unrealistic dialogue, overly complex vocabulary or sentence structures, etc. Editors are advocates for the reader so a copyeditor who can anticipate how a young reader will experience your manuscript, as well as how an agent or publisher will respond, is really valuable.

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For more information about copyediting or to find a professional copyeditor for your project, take a look at these resources:

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Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes is a developmental editor working with middle grade and YA authors. She specialises in speculative and genre fiction, particularly horror, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi and anything with a dash of magic or macabre. She is a member of the SfEP, EFA, ACES, British Fantasy Society, Horror Writers Association and SCBWI. She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children's Literature.

All stories by: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes