What are the differences between developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading?

Developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading are three different stages of the publication process. Developmental editing looks at the larger, overarching issues in a manuscript, such as structure, consistency, flow, voice, tone, and purpose. Copyediting, on the other hand, takes more of a line-level approach. During copyediting, we look at the mechanics of the text, such as grammar, spelling, punctuation, style, and—to a more focused degree—consistency and flow. Proofreading, the final editing stage, is the last check for typos, errors, and style inconsistencies.


Who are the editors?

Our editors are experts; editing is their profession. Each must not only pass a rigorous test, he or she must ace it. The editors come from a variety of backgrounds and live all over the country. They have different specialties, work styles, and likes and dislikes. They are human.


Will more than one editor look at my work?

We high-five that idea! We are of the mind that the more eyes the better and encourage every author to consider a developmental edit, a copyedit, and a proofread—each done by a different editor—which is the same path most traditional publishers follow. We can provide all three services and jump in wherever you may be in the process.


How long will it take to edit my work?

Some companies promise a return within 24 hours, which guarantees poor quality of editing! Editing takes time. You may have noticed that we emphasize excellence here, and to provide top-notch service, our editors spend quality time with your manuscript. And of course each project lives a different lifestyle. Taking that into consideration, look over the following to provide you with some rough timelines typically associated with the different types of editing, based on an average 50,000-word book.

Developmental edit: A month to six weeks

Copyedit: Three weeks

Proofread: Two weeks


What will I receive in return?

You will receive an electronic copy of your manuscript with tracked changes. We want you to be able to see each individual change we’ve made to your manuscript and have the option to accept it or reject it. If you prefer to see the changes already incorporated, there is an easy track changes setting in Word allowing that.


I don’t know how to use track changes. What do I do?

First, don’t panic. Second, contact us. We can walk you through the process, or for those of you who would rather comb a stranger’s back hair than spend a minute with tech support on the phone, we just might have a little video to help.


I’m not happy with the editor’s work. What do I do?

Please contact us immediately! We’re rather empathetic people and therefore take on your unhappiness as our own. And we really don’t like to be unhappy.


I love my editor! How do I let him or her know? And can I request him or her in the future?

This is the result we strive for and celebrate! Feel free to send a card or note, and we will be sure the editor receives it. Your second question is one we love to hear. When an editor and author are in sync and develop a thriving working relationship, we certainly don’t want to stand in the way of its impending success. On the contrary, we’ll do everything we can to ensure that success. Short answer: yes.


Why should I work with you?

We created this company in great part to make your life better. We understand what it is like to work as a freelancer–not knowing where the next project is going to come from, not being appreciated for the excellent work you do, having to take every job that comes along because of the uncertain nature of the field, and working in isolation without having the benefit of other editors’ input and snarkiness. We get it, and we want to push the negatives to the back and bring the positives to the front. At IE, you will be working with professional editors. Only the top talent are accepted.

Our goal is to build a community. You will have access to the editors’ forum in which you can discuss and debate all things editorial. We consistently update our blog to further industry education. And let’s just face it–we’re fun!


What is the editors’ forum?

This is the place for you to feel like part of a team from the comfort of your home. Ask questions, get advice, offer your best pun or a really awkward Microsoft spelling suggestion. Make it your own.


How do you pay the editors? And how often?

Upon completion of a project, you will be paid in ten to fifteen business days. Paydays will be the first and third Fridays of each month. We will mail a check on the designated pay day.


Do you withhold taxes for the editors?

No, we do not. As an editor, you are considered independent contractors and are responsible for your own self-employment tax. We will furnish a 1099 by January 31st of each year.


Do you offer health insurance?

No, we do not offer health insurance. Sorry!


I’ve been editing for decades. Why do I have to take a test?

All potential editors are required to take our test. This allows us to guarantee the quality of work we provide to our clients. C’mon, show us your mad skills!


If I failed the test, can I take it again?

Yes, but there is a six-month waiting period.


Where do I sign up?

Visit the editor’s page to complete the questionnaire and request a test.


What style guide do you use?

All our editors are proficient with the Chicago Manual of Style. Individual editors have expertise with other style guides as well. Let us know what you are looking for, and we’ll deliver.


We have our own house style. Will you use it?

Yes, please! We welcome house styles; this helps us ensure that we are providing the service that best suits you.


What kind of quality control do you have?

To become part of our team, editors must ace a rigorous editing test. While we have complete faith in their abilities, the manuscripts still go through a quality review.