Hitting Send Too Soon
After countless hours of writing and agonizing, you’ve finally typed “The End” on your masterpiece. You’re proud of your manuscript, and you should be. You’ve accomplished something most writers only ever dream of doing. You then run your manuscript through a grammar and spellcheck program, get rid of all those annoying squiggly red and green lines, and you’re ready to query or publish to the eBook retailer of your choice. But are you?
Even if you’ve read and re-read that manuscript a dozen times, shared it with your critique group, and had your Aunt Betty with the eye for grammar read it, chances are, it still needs editing.
Trust Me On This One
This is up there with the top five pieces of advice I hear successful writers make and see aspiring writers ignore. Get professional editing. Beg, borrow, steal if you have to, but well edited and formatted manuscripts are the mark of a professional writer intent on becoming a successful author.
Writers taking the traditional route to publishing will have their manuscripts edited by their publishers if their book makes it out of the slush pile. For these writers, a well edited first few chapters may make the difference between a request for a full manuscript or being stopped in their tracks.
There’s More Than One Kind Of Editing
Google “types of editing” and you’ll get dozens of responses with almost as many variations in definitions. There’s even disagreement about the correct spelling of copyediting — is it copyediting or copy editing? I’m team copyediting-is-one-word, so that’s how I’ll refer to it here. Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of editing:
May involve helping the writer develop the manuscript from an initial idea or concept. The editor helps the writer shape the story and tackles big-picture issues such as plot and story execution. This type of editing may require major rewrites.
Stylistic or line editing, is one of the services I offer. This type of editing deals with improving style and clarity. As a stylistic editor, I focus on things like improving word choice, “pumping” up flat or monotonous sentences and paragraphs, highlighting overused words and phrases, and helping the writer tweak the infamous “show don’t tell.” I do this with the goal of satisfying the writer’s target audience. Stylistic editors have an eye for rhythm and flow and help writers make their words sing.
Stylistic edits should be done after the writer has a fairly cohesive plot and story, but before she enters the copyediting and proofreading stages of their work. Why? Imagine having your manuscript copyedited and proofread only to have a stylistic editor recast entire sentences and paragraphs—all of which would require another round of proofreading.
Copyediting has become somewhat of a catch-all term for all editing. But copyediting typically addresses grammar and usage issues, spelling and punctuation errors, and word choice. Copywriting addresses a manuscript’s correctness. Why is the character named Joseph in chapter one suddenly being called John in chapter eight? Why does Lara have brown eyes in the prologue, but blue eyes in the final scene? Copyediting is less focused on rhythm and flow and more focused on ensuring accuracy.
The final phase of the editing process is all about doing a final review of your manuscript. Proofreaders check for typos, spelling, and formatting and layout issues. Proofreaders also verify links in electronic documents and perform document cleanups that standardize formatting.
Choosing the Right Editor
Many writers won’t need all of the editing services listed above, so it’s important to understand your story and to receive enough feedback from beta readers and critique groups to determine the scope of editing you’ll require.
There are some editors who provide all of these services for writers. Others, like myself, specialize in certain areas. Do your research when choosing an editor, making sure that the editor you choose understands the various types of editing (no matter what name they use for it) and is skilled in the type(s) you’ll need. Most editors will provide a sample edit prior to quoting a rate or taking you on as a client. Take advantage of this offer to determine whether or not you and the editor will be a good fit.
How Much Does Editing Cost?
Editing rates can vary as much as their definitions. Depending on the type and complexity of the edit, some editors charge anywhere from .008 to .08 cents per word. Other editors charge by the page, with rates ranging from $2 to over $7 per page. Still, others charge hourly rates ranging from $20 to over $60 per hour.
The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) has a handy rate chart that provides an overview of average hourly rates. Click here to visit the EFA website.
Editing Services I offer
I offer basic copyediting and stylistic editing services. While I specialize in editing romance, women’s fiction, and chick-lit, I work with writers of all genres. I’ve been writing and editing copy professionally for over ten years and I’m currently enrolled in The University of Chicago’s Professional Editing Program and expect to receive my certification in 2017.
Click here for more information about my services and rates.