Yes, there is a difference. Both are equally important to the drafting and polishing process of writing and publishing a book.
In general, a critique service focuses on content, while an editing service focuses on the technical side of writing (grammar, punctuation, and spelling.)
In my critique service, if I come across a glaring technical error, like a run-on sentence or spelling mistake, I will point it out. But those things are not my focus as I read through and comment. In a critique, I focus on the character building, asking myself: Is this character relatable? Do I understand his/her motivations? Am I swept along on the journey with this character? I pay close attention to their every movement, thought, and speech, along with how the other characters react to them.
My goal with a critique is to guide the author as they go into their next round of revisions. A content critique should help the writer to layer the story, adding necessary details, clarifying any confusions, filling out gaps in the plot, deleting unnecessary scenes/paragraphs/lines/words that do not drive the story forward, and building the overall story arc to meet its full potential.
Once this important aspect of the drafting process is finished, it is absolutely necessary to seek an editing service. An editing service will comb through the manuscript to fix incorrect sentence structure, such as the use of commas, and catch errors that will annoy a reader. I recently read a published book on kindle and found four errors in less than two pages. This caused my focus to pull away from the story and hone in on the writing instead. I ended up setting the book aside, which was sad, because I really liked the premise.
So, when exactly do you need to seek Critique Services and Editing Services? Both are an absolute MUST if you plan to self-publish. You are in control of that entire process, and it’s important that if you are having people pay for your work you’re giving them the best, cleanest story you possibly can. The hope is that whatever you pay for your polishing services, you will make back from sales. When a book is good, readers talk. They review. Word spreads. But the same happens when a book is not as great as it can be.
If you are seeking the traditional publishing route, you still want your book to be tip-top while trying to get an agent, and then trying to get an editor/publisher. The wonderful thing about traditional publishing is that your editor will do a full critique of the content for you, and then it will be sent to copy-editors who will handle the technical editing. This is all free of cost for the author. Beware of any “publisher” who wants to charge you for these services.
I wish you the very best on your revision-editing journey. They are such huge, important parts of the writing process. Don’t skip them or underestimate their importance. A good critique can mean the difference between an okay story and a bestseller.
Happy writing, friends.