There are two main types of editing services I focus on - manuscript critiquing and developmental editing - but I do also offer copy-editing and proofreading services. Below are brief explanations of what these different types of editing encompass.
Critiquing your manuscript is the first step for a would-be novelist who has written a novel and wants to know how good it is. I will read it closely, making notes as I go, on all aspects: language, structure, plot, characterization, etc. I will not edit the book. When I have finished my close read, I will write a report for you on the novel's strengths and weaknesseses, on what I think has to be improved or changed, and being brutally honest, on whether it is 'good enough' at all. I might suggest rewrites of entire sections, or elimination of sections; I might question character's motivations etc. I would tell you whether I thought you needed to do significant rewrites before a developmental edit, or whether I could do a developmental edit straight away. A manuscript critique does not preclude the need for a developmental edit, but it is less of a financial commitment than a full developmental edit, so someone not sure about whether their book is good enough at all might prefer to start here.
Developmental editing is the term I use to describe a 'full' edit. This full edit would include everything I do in a manuscript critique - pointing out the larger issues of plot/characterization etc., but it also includes a careful line-by-line edit of everything. I will polish language; I will point out awkward or confusing sentences; I won't just mention larger issues with characterization or plot but even the small instances within a page or chapter: "Why would this character say this here? It doesn't fit with what's just happened/what they've shown of themselves so far" etc. I might write a separate report for you on larger issues in the book, but most likely all those points would be included within the document edit itself. I work in 'track changes' and with 'comments' so you would get your book back with changes and queries clearly highlighted and explained. We could build on any suggestions I have about changing the storyline/characterization etc through discussing the book by phone or video conference. This edit is a beginning-to-end kind of deal - after I have sent back the fully-edited manuscript I will discuss whatever is needed and will then wait to get the book back from the author, with changes/rewrites included. We will do a full back-and-forth until we are both satisfied with the final book. A book belongs to the writer, not to the editor; the editor is there to point out the flaws, fix some of them, and suggest ways to improve the rest. The writer is free to take advice or not, but as an editor, my job isn't done unless I'm allowed to explain why I think a change is necessary (if the writer doesn't understand or agree with a change I've suggested).
Copy-Editing & Proofreading
Copy-Editing and Proofreading are technical terms used within the publishing industry. They involve the same type of work - editing for grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation and consistency - although usually (hopefully) there is more to do in a copy-edit than a proofread, because copy-editing is done before a book is typeset, and proofreading is done afterwards. Proofreading should involve finding fewer 'mistakes' within the actual manuscript (as the copy-editor should already have found them) but will involve more awareness of the typesetting process itself, and any issues with word/paragraph/header positioning etc. Often a publishing house will give an editor or proofreader a stylesheet to follow, or refer them to a specific manual of style. I'm most used to following the Chicago Manual of Style, but am happy to work with others. I do offer both these services; I worked for two years as a copy-editor for Segula Magazine, and recently proofed a memoir (Hiding Places) published by Excelsior Editions/State University of New York. During my time at the Toby Press, I proofread the books I was not editing (it is not recommended to proof a book you have already edited - you are too familiar with it by that point and may overlook things).
If you are an author looking to improve your book before you submit it to an agent or publishing house, or you want to self-publish, you're going to want my manuscript critique and/or developmental editing services, rather than a copy-edit or proofread. I would be happy to work with professional organizations/publishing houses as a copy-editor or proofreader.