What type of editing do I need?
This depends on where you are in the process. If you are in your early drafts and are looking for guidance on big-picture issues such as character development, plot pacing, and point of view, then you want a developmental edit. If you are confident in the storytelling aspects of your manuscript but want help tightening up the writing and making every word count, then you are looking for a line edit. Once you are happy with the craft aspects of your writing, it is time to dive into a copy edit and hunt down the more objective errors, such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Don’t rush to jump ahead in the process. There is no point in perfecting your sentences if there are major flaws in your manuscript that will require significant rewriting.
How do I prepare my document to send to you?
The most important thing for you to do is to make sure the document is as clean as you can get it before sending it to me. If you are hiring me for a copy edit, my fee will be based on how much work I believe your manuscript will need. The messier it is, the more time it will take me and the more it will cost you. Also, an editor won’t catch every error. The fewer errors you have to begin with, the fewer will be left after the edit. You should run your word processor’s spell-checker through the manuscript and review it yourself at least once for errors before sending it to me.
If I am doing a developmental edit for you, spelling errors and typos aren’t as important, but I will be better able to focus on the story issues if there aren’t many distracting errors. You should still plan to spell-check and review your manuscript before sending it off. And make sure the story itself is as tight as you can make it before you get a developmental edit.
How does the editing process work?
For developmental editing, I will make two passes through your manuscript, taking notes about the major issues I find. In a fiction manuscript, this would include topics such as plot, pacing, character development, dialogue, and point of view. In a nonfiction manuscript, I would be looking at the order of chapters, whether your claims are backed up effectively, if there are areas that bog down, and other developmental concerns. I will return to you a revision letter detailing any issues I found in your manuscript and offering suggestions for your next draft. This letter will vary in length based on the length and complexity of your manuscript, but is typically between 6–15 pages long.
For line editing and copy editing, I also make two passes through your manuscript with an author review between them. I will mark my edits using the Track Changes and Comments features in Word. When I complete my first pass, I will send it you and you will accept or reject my edits, do any suggested rewriting that you feel is appropriate, and answer any questions I have asked in the comments. Then you will send a clean copy back to me for a second pass. I will go through your manuscript again, marking any additional edits that I find. If you will not be able to return a clean copy to me within 48 hours, there may be a delay before I can complete your second pass.
How long will the edit take?
How long an edit takes depends on the length of the manuscript and the type and level of editing required. When you request a quote from me, I will do a sample edit on a short section of your manuscript, which will give me an idea of the shape that your manuscript is in. From this, I will be able to provide a quote for the cost and time required for a full edit of your book. I am sure you are eager to get your book back quickly and into the hands of your readers! But keep in mind that quality editing takes time. A meticulous line editor will be able to edit approximately six pages of your manuscript an hour. For a 300-page book, that is fifty hours of editing. Developmental editing can take longer. Be patient! Your book deserves the time a skilled editor will spend on it.
Will my manuscript be error-free when you are done with it?
No manuscript will ever be error-free. Even traditionally published books, which typically go through multiple rounds of editing and proofreading, still manage to have a few errors in them. An editor could do pass after pass after pass looking for those last errors, but that would get expensive quickly and wouldn’t be cost-effective for you. So…I can’t promise perfection, but I can promise to deliver a clean, polished manuscript that you will be proud to self-publish or send to an agent or publisher.
Do I have to make every change you suggest?
Absolutely not! As the author, you always have the final say about what goes into your book. Some changes are objective (such as certain grammar or punctuation rules) and many authors accept most of those types of changes. But, as with writing, much of editing is subjective. I will do my best to provide suggestions that maintain your voice and style while clarifying and tightening your writing, but if you prefer something the way it was (or want to rewrite it in a different way), that is always your choice. Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature makes accepting or rejecting edits made directly in the document easy and painless. For bigger, more subjective changes, I make suggestions using the Comments feature, so your text stays the way it was until you decide to change it. My job is to help you say what you want to say in the best way possible; accepting or rejecting edits is always up to you.