Copy editing and proofreading are closely related editorial abilities, but there are a few important differences between them. Copy editors get involved in the book manufacturing process at an earlier stage than proofreaders. Normally, after a book has been commissioned, a copy editor will use the writer to bring this up to a publishable standard. That means the copy editor is Likely to become closely involved with the writing of this book. In the event of a nonfiction book, she or he may advise the writer about what to include and what to leave out, the order in which content is introduced, using photos and illustrations, etc. The copy editor will also evaluate the quality of the writing. Where necessary, she will ask the writer to rewrite certain sections where they have to be stronger. In cases where the author has tried and failed, she may also rewrite sections of this book herself.
When the copy editor is happy the book is as good as it can be, she will mark any corrections up to the latest version of the typescript and pass it on to the typesetter, who will prepare it for publication in book form. The proofreader comes in once the typesetter has put the book. His or her job is to read the typeset ‘proofs’ and mark up any mistakes he finds. Contrary to the copy editor, the proofreader isn’t concerned with enhancing the text, and it is not his function to make stylistic changes. His job is just to search for apparent mistakes typos, omissions, and so forth and ensure they don’t make it to the finished book.
The copyrighting a book is a more demanding task than proofreading, and it is therefore better paid. While proofreaders can get away with a few gaps in their grammatical knowledge, copy editors have to be fully competent in all aspects of grammar and punctuation. Copy editors also require strong interpersonal abilities, as they have to forge good working relationships with ‘their’ writers so as to get the most out of them. They have to be tactful occasionally, to avoid giving the impression they are criticizing the author’s writing abilities. Many copy editors begin as Proofreaders, and this may be an excellent way to learn the principles and build up your confidence before going into a Copyedit function.