When a potential author works with an editor, s/he should first be aware of the specific steps that professional is able to offer toward preparing a raw manuscript for publication. On this site, I have offered specific definitions right from the beginning of my layout design. My thought today is that repeating those descriptives will be a valuable reference to a writer who has decided to have a professional editor work on her/his writing before s/he assumes that the raw work at hand is ready to go to print – to be seen by the public eye, that is.
The following definitions concerning the Editing Discipline should be helpful:
A. Proofreading = Noting writing errors for the author’s attention and correction, with “noting” being the key term; i.e., not correcting any part of the original text
B. Surface-/Copy-editing = Correcting surface errors (spelling, CAPS, punctuation, footnotes) and immediately evident grammatical flaws (word order, tense discrepancies, pronoun discrepancies, preposition mistakes, etc.). In sum: Correcting syntax with a focus on technical quality
C. Content Editing = Correcting errors in semantics at the basic level; the focus being on how meaning is conveyed
D. Comprehensive/Substantive Editing = Correcting errors in semantics at the advanced level; again, the objective being to correct meaning out of its initial convoluted version
E. Ghostwriting = Writing for the author; writing to transform an author’s illegible original text into a legible presentation of syntax and semantics