Copyediting and Proofreading


Copyediting + proofreading

Services offered by Cusick Editing

Cusick Editing provides authors and publishers with copyediting, proofreading, cold-reading, fact-checking, and manuscript-evaluation services.

There are myriad terms used to describe the different styles and stages of editing, and if you are new to these terms, trying to decipher the differences among them can seem dizzying. Please review the section below for more detail on different kinds of editorial services, and get in touch if you’re not sure which service is right for your project. Please note that Cusick Editing does not provide developmental editing at this time.


literary fiction

historical fiction

translated novels

guidebooks and how-tos


Which type of editing is right for your project?

Editors can work with writers at any stage of the writing process; consider what phase you think you may be in and what kind of input you are seeking and take a look at the types of editing listed below. The different phases of editing typically occur as a series of steps, each one preparing the work for the next phase. For example, developmental or content editing is designed to occur early on, while the fine-tuning processes of copyediting and proofreading take place when the content has been ironed out and the manuscript is nearing completion. Though it can seem tedious at times, working through each of these phases in turn will ensure the most streamlined transition from manuscript to publication.

Developmental editing

Also known as content editing, developmental editing refers to the developmental phase of a manuscript (hence the name). Developmental editors can review a manuscript at any stage in the writing process, and they often work collaboratively with an author over several drafts. A good developmental editor facilitates and supports the writing process, offering feedback and specific suggestions for the author’s consideration that are in keeping with the author’s style and voice and may help shape the manuscript. This phase of editing does not address errors in grammar and mechanics; these are checked later in the editing process.

Sometimes developmental editors also provide substantive editing—deleting, inserting, or revising text for clarity and flow. The author, of course, retains autonomy throughout the project and may accept or reject any of the editor’s changes. Seasoned editor Alan Rinzler describes developmental editors as “constructive collaborators.” You can read more about developmental editing and what to expect from the process on Alan’s blog.

Manuscript evaluation

A much lighter version of the developmental edit is the manuscript evaluation: a thorough review of a near-complete manuscript that results in written feedback addressing organization, clarity, consistency, character development, voice, and so on. When you feel stuck in the writing process, or you cannot see your text clearly anymore, this is a great way to get some objective feedback to help you move forward.


After you’ve worked with a developmental editor and your manuscript is nearing completion, the next step is to have someone review the text for any errors in grammar and mechanics. Copyeditors offer different levels of service, ranging from heavy to light. A copyeditor also ensures consistency throughout the text; so if you prefer the unhyphenated email, for example, even though the primary spelling listed in Merriam-Webster’s is e-mail, or if you want to italicize a character’s inner thoughts, rather than leaving the thoughts in roman, the copyeditor will list your preferences on a style sheet and make sure that every instance is treated in the same manner. Copyeditors also generally perform light fact-checking tasks to ensure proper nouns are spelled and capitalized correctly, dates for significant historical events are accurate, and so on. More rigorous fact-checking may be required for certain texts, such as historical fiction.

Copyediting can be done on one of three levels: light, medium, or heavy. Your copyeditor can review a sample of your work and help you decide which level of copyediting is right for you.


Once your text has been copyedited and formatted, a proofreader can ensure consistency of all design elements and correct any remaining errors in grammar and mechanics. This is generally the last step prior to publication.

Cold reading

In some instances, particularly when errors are found at the proofreading stage that may require revisions or rewriting, a cold read may be warranted. A cold read corrects any egregious errors—those that may be noticed by the average reader—to prevent reader distraction.

Choosing the right editor

When you’re ready to hire an editor for your project, you’ll want to evaluate the editor’s skills and experience, certainly, but what may be most critical in your decision-making process is the rapport you have with the editor. Trust your instincts, and ensure you find someone who is communicative, responsive to your inquiries, and demonstrates enthusiasm and curiosity. It’s also common for editors to provide a brief sample edit after reviewing your manuscript, which can help both of you decide whether the match is a good one.

You can learn more about the different kinds of editing services and tasks on the Northwest Editors Guild website or the Bay Area Editors’ Forum, among others. Get a sense of industry-standard pricing for these services from the Editorial Freelancers Association. You can also search for editors on any of these sites, or search for editors groups that may exist in your area.