You’ve read your manuscript countless times, revising, tweaking, and rewriting until you’re bleary-eyed. You consider it your “baby”—your magnum opus—and think it’s perfect just the way it is. But the fact is that by the time you’ve finished writing, you’re too close to the work to be truly objective. Once you’ve read anything numerous times, you can no longer see spelling or
grammatical errors and inconsistencies with plot, character development, and timeline. At this point, you’ve “hit the wall,” so to speak, and are no longer able to come up with ways to improve the work. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. In fact, in writing or any art form, there is no such thing as perfection. Once you’ve hit that wall, it’s time to hire an editor.
In the media, authors and editors are sometimes portrayed as adversaries. But in reality, authors and editors go hand in hand. No matter what you’re writing, if you plan to have it published, utilizing the services of an experienced editor is one of the smartest moves you can make to ensure the success of your work.
Editorial Services Offered
Whereas developmental editing focuses on the big picture—the manuscript as a whole—copy editing looks at the text sentence by sentence and word by word. Copy editing (sometimes referred to as line editing or stylistic editing) comes into play after you’ve solidified the plot, character development, and overall structure. Any lingering inconsistencies from the developmental edit will be addressed, but my main goal as your copy editor is to polish the words on the page—the spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, word choice, readability, and agreement of tenses. I’ll let you know where certain words are repeated too frequently or too close to each other. I’ll also point out inconsistencies in style, such as improper capitalization, spacing, or hyphenation.
In addition to reviewing your manuscript, I will also copy edit your front and back matter and assist with formatting your sources and bibliography. After the copy editing stage is complete, your manuscript will be sent to a book designer for typesetting, design, and layout. Once the book is in layout, you’re ready for a final proofread. A proofread is strongly recommended because a lot of errors and issues with formatting and style can crop up during the typesetting and layout processes.
During a developmental edit, a skilled editor may suggest hundreds of changes or revisions to a book-length manuscript. This is nothing to be alarmed at; it’s just part of the process of refining your manuscript and making it the best book it can be. At this time, I may correct some grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but typically those items will be addressed during the copy editing stage. Again, the goal of the developmental edit is to focus on the big picture and how the manuscript is shaping up. Once that is solidified, we can move on to the copy editing stage.
I specialize in developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, indexing, and Americanizing fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children, and I'm proficient in the Chicago Manual of Style. The type of editing you need depends on the stage you’re at in the writing process. If you’re unsure, don’t worry. The descriptions below will help you sort it out. And once I review a sample of your manuscript, I’ll have a better idea of what you need. Just remember that manuscripts need multiple levels of editing, and although these levels can sometimes be combined, they cannot be skipped.
Please note that although I do not provide research or fact-checking services, I am knowledgeable in many subject areas. That said, I will point out anything that I believe to be incorrect or misleading and will offer suggestions for clarifying and/or verifying the information. If you are in need of a full-service fact-checker, I can provide some names of exceptional fact-checkers that I have worked with in the past.
Whether you hire me as a developmental editor, copy editor, or proofreader, along with your marked-up manuscript, I will include a note summarizing my comments, including any recurring errors and major issues that I encountered.
Specifically with fiction texts, during the developmental edit, I will assist with character development and let you know if your characters do something that seems inauthentic for how you’ve portrayed them. We want the story to develop in a logical and compelling manner, so I will also point out inconsistencies with the plot and its timeline, places where the narrative weakens or seems to drag along, and areas that could use more description to set the scene, convey action, or enhance the dialogue. If necessary, I will also make suggestions for increasing dramatic tension through conventions such as suspense, foreshadowing, conflict, and plot twists.
This is the most extensive form of editing that I offer. Developmental editing (aka structural or content editing) focuses on the big picture—the overall structure, organization, and flow of your text. I will point out items that need clarification, facts that might be inaccurate, and places where the text could be more succinct. The goal is to keep the reader interested, engaged and turning the page forward. We don’t want them wasting time flipping through pages they’ve already read to clarify something about a character, setting, or statement. We want the text to be clear and concise, and, as your developmental editor, I will help with that. While I will make suggestions to enhance the flow and readability, I will make every effort to maintain your voice and style.
Some people think that copy editing and proofreading are synonymous. Although the tasks share similar functions, they are two very distinct stages in the editing process. In a nutshell, copy editing is completed prior to layout; proofreading is done after layout. Furthermore, electronic copy editing is typically performed in Microsoft Word while proofreading is completed using a PDF.
As noted in the copy editing section above, once a book is in layout, a final proofread is strongly recommended. During the typesetting and layout processes, errors, inconsistencies, and issues with formatting and style can crop up, and you don’t want those making their way into your finished product. Today’s readers are very savvy and are not shy about giving negative feedback on books (and their authors) when they find errors that should have been corrected before a book was published. After all the hard work you've put into your book, you owe it to yourself to have it professionally proofread.
Like the copy edit, a proofread is a sentence by sentence, word by word review of the text. But it’s also a “quality control” check and is typically the last chance to make corrections before the book goes to the printer. So, in addition to performing one final read of the text to snuff out errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and the other items mentioned in the copy editing section, as your proofreader, I will look for formatting issues, such as bad line breaks, widows, orphans, and lines that are too short. I will also point out errors or inconsistencies regarding indentation, chapter titles, page numbers, headers, and subheads, as well as incorrect placement of images, tables, and other artwork and design elements. If requested, I will proofread and reconcile the front and back matter, including the table of contents, index, sources, and bibliography.
For nonfiction texts, an index is a useful tool for readers and will enhance a book’s sales. If you would like a professionally prepared index, I’d be happy to create an alphabetical list of concepts, names, subjects, and places and where they appear in your book.
For much of my career, I have worked for international publishers where I collaborated with colleagues in the UK to develop co-editioned books, meaning that separate books were created for the U.S. and UK (or other international) markets. For British and non-native English writers, once your manuscript has been copy edited, I can help you amend your text for an American audience. I will replace British English with American English
(e.g., colour vs. color; whinge vs. whine) and suggest replacements for terms and idioms that are not widely known to American readers (for example, jumper vs. sweater and lift vs. elevator).
A Note on Rates
Every project is as unique as its writer. That said, I will help you figure out what type of editorial services your manuscript needs. After we’ve discussed your needs and the parameters of your project, I will perform a free sample edit and provide a written quote.
I typically charge by the hour, but if you would prefer, I can calculate a per-word or per-page rate. In some circumstances, a flat rate can be provided instead. Regardless of the method used, my rates fall within those recommended by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). Please note that industry standards define a manuscript page as 250 words, in Times New Roman font, double-spaced with one-inch margins all around.
For clients purchasing three or more services, I offer a discounted rate of 25 percent off the lowest-priced service. For example, if you hire me as a developmental editor, copy editor, and proofreader, I will take 25 percent off the price of the proofreading.
After we’ve discussed your needs and the parameters of your project and agreed upon a rate/fee and schedule, I will send you a letter of agreement to put these details in writing.