You’ve just written a novel (or memoir, article, nonfiction book, blog, or annual report) and you know you’d like a professional editor to smooth the rough spots — someone to find and fix small errors or review larger issues of organization, clarity, and tone. Whom do you trust with your “baby”? And how do you know in advance that the editor in question will provide quality work at a fair price, give your work the respectful and sensitive treatment it deserves and, equally important, is someone you’ll enjoy working with?
Copy edit/line edit
A typical copy edit addresses technical issues of spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice, and tense. I’ll also check your manuscript for leaps of reason, plot holes, continuity, and general believability. Even the best writers have stylistic tics — words and phrases they overuse, bad habits such as passive voice — and I’ll be on the lookout for those, too, all while adhering to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., and Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. And because I’m constitutionally unable to refrain from fact-checking — for proper names, dates, quotations, geographical information, and so forth — I provide that service as well.
Step One: Sample Edit
Let’s first discuss your project by phone, email, or in person. If we both agree to continue, I’ll review one chapter from the middle of your book or manuscript and provide a complimentary sample edit (up to 1,000 words) using Word’s Track Changes. This allows me to determine how light or heavy a copy edit your work requires and to come up with a ballpark fee. And it allows you to see how I work and what I can do for your manuscript.
Occasionally a project crosses my desk that has not yet undergone a content edit and the many revisions a truly first-class work requires (and is necessary before copy editing can take place). In those cases I’ll recommend that the writer consider a manuscript evaluation (with me or another professional developmental editor). A manuscript evaluation addresses all the “big picture” stuff — not typos or spelling errors — so you can make your next revision more focused and effective. No changes or comments will be made on the manuscript itself.
You’ll receive a three- to six-page report, plus selective margin notes, on substantive issues such as organization, substantiation, gaps in logic, repetition, transitions, and flow (and plot and character development for fiction). I also note problem patterns and, of course, what’s going right in the manuscript. No changes are made to the manuscript itself. My notes and report won’t call out every example, but you’ll be armed to go back in and make changes throughout the manuscript based on my suggestions — or not. After all, it’s your work! This process allows you to fix problems or rewrite sections of the manuscript before investing in a comprehensive copy edit.
This stage is the final review of your manuscript, a chance to catch errant typos and any other small, pesky problems. I’ll check for grammar, punctuation, spelling, mechanical errors, and formatting errors.
I’ll create a custom-made style sheet, which summarizes the editorial rules followed and any style preferences particular to the author, for each copy-editing project. It allows the author to see what changes have been made and makes life easier for subsequent editors and proofreaders. It will note any recurring exceptions to CMoS (Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.) and M-W (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary) that are a product of the author’s voice or style.
The style sheet also includes a word list with characters (in the case of fiction), places, proper nouns (such as brand names), and other terms (foreign terms, slang, industry-specific vocabulary) that are particular to your manuscript.
Writing/copy writing for magazines, newsletters, Web sites, marketing and fund-raising materials, and press releases. What do I write about? I’ve written about how young opera singers get in vocal and theatrical shape for a new production of Die Fledermaus, how a 12th-century Arabic literary masterpiece inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe, and how a young entrepreneur has invented a promising medical device to prevent the kind of devastating heart attack that claimed her young husband. I love learning about new fields and interviewing interesting people.
I also provide project management and, as a media-relations specialist, have a proven track record with placements in local and national media.
Once we’ve both agreed to the writing or editing services to be performed, I’ll send out a simple contract to be signed by both of us. Depending on the size of the project, I may ask for a small deposit. The remaining payment is due when you receive the fully edited manuscript.
I can provide edits all at once or in mutually agreed-upon installments. Any revision work is billed at the regular hourly rate. I’m always happy to report how many hours have been spent (and assess how many are left to go) periodically throughout the project.