You know what book editing is. A book editor (maybe Pypeline Editing) takes your manuscript and cleans up the grammar, the punctuation, the spelling–they clean up everything! But, what is a structural edit and do you need one?
A structural edit is when an editor looks at your manuscript and edits it for content. For instance, they read your story in its entirety and offer solutions, suggestions, and comments in order to strengthen your book for publishers and especially readers. You don’t want to have a story with glaring plot holes. You don’t want to have a story that lacks information about the characters. (Readers will not know as much about your story and universe as you do, so details are a must.) You don’t want to have a story that lacks direction.
So, this is where a structural edit comes in. This doesn’t typically include a copy edit, but editors have packages available that include both. A structural edit always happens first. You do not want to painstakingly edit paragraphs and sentences for punctuation and grammar to end up removing those sections altogether. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. By editing the structure of the story first, you fine-tune the story and its contents before even getting to the copy edit part.
The question remains, do you need one? Absolutely. A copy edit is great, it is necessary, it is important. However, a grammatically correct story that lacks focus or does not include needed details will not be enjoyable to read for anyone. Consult a professional and tackle a structural edit.