Finding the Right Copyeditor for Your Fantasy or Sci-Fi Novel

And 5 things to expect from your copyeditor

After completing the revisions your developmental editor suggested and maybe made tweaks from your critique partners suggestions, it’s time for a copy edit. Whether traditionally publishing or self-publishing, the process is similar.

If you aren’t sure of the differences between editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders, see my refresher.

When you selected or were assigned a development editor for your fantasy or science fiction novel, one requirement was their familiarity with the genre. How else would they know if your magic system was working, or if your wormhole science made story-sense? Or if you treated tropes uniquely? You should have the same level of genre knowledge from your copyeditor.

According to the Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn, the copyeditor’s job is to make a story clear, consistent, and correct. They look at the words the author used and how they used them to tell the story. They correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. They follow a publisher’s specific style-guide to enforce consistency.

A copyeditor working in fantasy and science fiction has to do everything a non-genre copyeditor does. They must also check consistencies in invented languages, complex magic systems, and speculative science. The genre copyeditor must consider if the fictional city on the coast in chapter one suddenly became the land-locked city of the same name in chapter ten, or did the author just reference the wrong invented name? Google Maps can’t help. Cities in fantasy can also move.

A genre copyeditor has to maintain consistency for the correct possessives and plurals of invented names for people and things. It’s a layer of complexity an editor of literary fiction rarely deals with.

Any good copyeditor will work through these issues, but if you’re paying by the hour, this extra work can add up. A copyeditor who is deeply knowledgeable in the FSF genres should be able to work through these details smoothly. Even if you’re paying by the word, any followup conversations will be more concise with a genre-focused copyeditor.

5 Things to Expect From Your Copyeditor

All copyeditors should follow standard practices such as making suggestions; not changing anything beyond obvious grammar, spelling, and punctuation unless you’ve requested them to. Editors should communicate timelines, meet deadlines, and never harm or lose any part of your manuscript.

When it’s time for a final polish of your Fantasy or Science Fiction novel, here are 5 things to expect from your copyeditor:

  • A clear, concise scope of what they will do for your project and offer customization – Are the doing a light, medium, or heavy copy edit?
  • A one or two-page sample edit
  • Experience in your genre
  • A follow-up review by phone, Skype, or email. These aren’t always necessary but you want the option.
  • A custom quote for your project. No two are the same

I hope this has prepared you in your search for the right copyeditor of your Fantasy or Science Fiction novel.

If you need a copy edit, you can find details of my service here.

The Difference Between Copyeditors, Proofreaders, and Editors: A Short Refresher

I hear the question each time I tell someone what I do. “What’s a copyeditor? Is that the same as a proofreader?” Sometimes the person asks me to review the structure of their novel.

Here’s the difference between editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders:

Editor – In this context, the editor is the one who helps with big picture items. Sometimes called a developmental or content editor, this editor’s job is to make sure the best story is being told. The editor judges if structure, voice, pacing, and characterization are working correctly, and if not, suggests changes.

The term editor can also refer to an editor-in-chief of a publication, or an acquisition editor for a press or publication. 

Copyeditor – Sometimes called a line-level editor, the copyeditor looks at every line, paragraph, section, and chapter to make sure the word usage, spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, verb tense, modifiers, and more are all correct and working in service to the story. That last bit is the important part. The copyeditor makes the story cleaner and clearer.

Proofreader – The proofreader is the last set of eyes on a book or story before being published. The proofreader looks for typos, misused words, weird spacing, anything that detracts from the book’s readiness for publication.

Copyediting for Fantasy and Speculative Fiction

Today, Epos is offering copyediting specific to fantasy and speculative fiction.

A copyeditor of fantasy and speculative fiction has to perform all the work any fiction copyeditor must do. The editor must also understand fantastic concepts, terms, and speculative science logic. They must track consistency with fictional worlds, invented names, and invented terminology.

Learn more about copyediting here.