Copy editors are mechanics for language: they edit your book’s text, otherwise known as “copy.” Fiction or non-fiction, academic or populist, thriller or sci-fi, copy editors help create the most readable version of your book. They’ll make sure your manuscript isn’t riddled with bad grammar, spelling mistakes, or glaring inconsistencies. They won’t enter into big-picture issues such as characterization, plot or pacing; instead they will go through the manuscript line by line and focus on all the little things you might not have thought about. They’ll catch scenes in which your antagonist is wearing sunglasses and spectacles at the same time. They’ll save your tone and style from unintentionally wild shifts between sections. They’ll pull your book together page by page.
Developmental editing is a thorough and in-depth edit of your entire manuscript. It is an examination of all the elements of your writing, from single words and the phrasing of individual sentences, to overall structure and style. It can address plot holes or gaps, problematic characterization and all other existing material.