FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need professional editing?
That depends. If you are pursuing traditional publishing, agents and acquisitions editors don’t expect your manuscript to be professionally edited (and if they ask you to do this first and refer you to services, run away). Traditional publishing includes editing, so you shouldn’t be spending money to do this yourself. You should, however, find critique partners and beta readers to help you clean up your manuscript as much as possible before querying.
If you’re planning to self-publish, you should get your books at a minimum professionally copyedited and proofread to ensure you’re releasing a quality product and preserving your brand as an author.
How do I know when my manuscript is ready for professional editing?
I’m happy to edit a manuscript once you’ve gone over it yourself at least once, to save me time and you money. The better shape your manuscript is in, the lower my quote will typically be. Some amount of self-editing isn’t a bad idea, and some authors like to share their manuscripts with trusted critique partners and alpha readers before professional editing.
The level of editing also matters. Developmental edits and critiques are intended for manuscripts at an earlier stage with deeper issues, and line edits are appropriate once the deeper developmental edits have been incorporated. Copyedits are timely for manuscripts with content and style issues resolved, when the manuscript is more or less in the form it will be for publishing. Significant revision after copyediting is not recommended unless your copyeditor is willing to check over your changes. Proofreading is the final edit before publication, and subsequent revisions are not advised unless your copyeditor and proofreader are willing to check over them. Always be sure to do a final readthrough yourself before publication – remember, editors are human, too, and no editor can promise a 100% error detection rate.
A good editor will also tell you if your manuscript is not ready for the service you’ve requested. For example, if I get a manuscript proofreading request and I notice a lot of incorrect facts or an expectation to Americanize the text, I will advise the author to hire a copyeditor first to fix those issues.
How long will an edit take?
Typically, a copy edit takes me four to seven days, and a proofread takes three to five. I prefer not to work weekends (but will sometimes respond to emails as a courtesy).
Once you agree to accept my manuscript for editing, what is the process like?
If you decide you want to book the slot, you provide me with an estimated final word count, based upon which I give you a quote. If you accept the quote, I send you a Statement of Work as a contract with all the details via an e-sign service. When you send me your manuscript, I’ll invoice you through PayPal for 50% of my fee, and upon receipt of that payment, I will begin the edit on the scheduled day.
Once I’m finished, I’ll invoice you for the remaining 50% of my fee, and when that’s paid, I’ll send the edited manuscript (and/or style sheet, depending on the service chosen) back to you. (Depending on the edit selected, once you’ve completed your revisions, you can send it back to me to check over the changes as needed, within reason, until they’re finalized.) Once the edit is done, I welcome you to contact me with questions and share your successes. I always love to hear from my clients!
Can you do both my copyedit and proofread? Can you do two passes for proofreading?
I could, but that wouldn’t be in your best interests. You absolutely should get both a copyedit and a proofread. And you absolutely should get at a minimum two proofreading passes. However, I recommend that you get separate people for this. Why? It’s simple. Have you ever read your manuscript multiple times, but someone else reads it and catches an error you’ve missed? Once you’re familiar with your manuscript, your mind fills in blanks, which makes it harder to catch errors. This is the value of getting “a fresh pair of eyes” on your work. In a big traditional publishing house, you’d get multiple editors and proofreaders, as well as be expected to go over the galleys yourself at the end. I could raise my rates and do two passes per copyedit and proofread, but I don’t feel it would be in my clients’ best interests. Instead, I recommend getting a copyeditor and separate proofreaders (more than one), and always do a final pass yourself at the end.
How do I find editors?
Other than me (haha), I recommend checking the acknowledgments pages in your favorite self-published books, or contacting the authors to ask who they’ve used and would recommend. I also strongly suggest taking advantage of free sample edits (usually 1,000-3,000 words of a novel-length work) from editors you’re considering, checking out the works in editors’ portfolios, and asking them any questions you may have to see whether you will work well together.
Which genres do you accept?
Not every editor is right for every manuscript and vice versa, so I only accept manuscripts I believe are a good fit. For manuscript critiques, I only work with fantasy and science fiction. For copyediting and proofreading, I’m open to all genres of fiction, and make decisions on a case by case basis.
At this time, I do not work with poetry, plays, screenplays, or most non-fiction (except memoir) beyond proofreading.
Which reference materials do you use for copy editing?
I use The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition; Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition; and Garner’s Modern English Usage. However, I use these materials with careful judgment to preserve your authorial voice and character voices.
Can you recommend some writing books to improve my work?
Absolutely! Although writing is a creative venture, there are many resources to help equip you with the tools to tell your story more effectively. A good start includes:
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner
The Power of Point of View: Make Your Story Come to Life by Alicia Rasley
Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland
A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance Your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love