Recently I read a fantastic book, that really hooked me, wanting to read more from this author. It had not a single typo or grammar error. However, the protagonist, a young girl, was using an ipod, later in the story she was getting tickets to a concert that actually happened in the late 60’s and when she got missing, her mother gave the girls birth date as in 1948 to the police. This really great book lacked a good editor to point out these errors.
Before you hire an editor, you need to know what kind of help you’re looking for. Some editors work only on the structural and line level. Others also copy edit, or specialize in copy editing alone.
Editors Will Perform Services Such As:
- suggesting cutting out characters
- changing or omitting dialogue
- changing the narrative arc of the novel
- moving chapters around
- give various other suggestions that will improve the book
“Big-picture” feedback about structure, style, pacing and voice? A developmental edit for a work of nonfiction may include feedback about the book’s organizational structure, as well as both stylistic and informational strengths and weaknesses. For fiction manuscripts, developmental editing also includes notes on plot, point of view and characterization. Often, a developmental edit is given in the form of a detailed report or letter rather than as notes made directly on the manuscript.
In a line edit, your editor will point out specific things such as certain lines of dialogue that don’t sound convincing, or pacing problems in a given section.
Copy Editing and Proofreading
These are about fixing errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice and sentence structure, as well as catching continuity issues.
Hiring a freelance editor is a significant financial investment—one that can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending upon the kinds of editing you require, the editor’s rate (which may be either an hourly rate or a flat fee, usually charged per page), and the number of revisions/rounds of editing.
Before you Hire an Editor or Proofreader:
Avoid the temptation to hire someone to edit your first draft. Put it away for a while and then re-read, making notes on its strengths and weaknesses, asking yourself what’s missing, and flagging places where you find yourself skimming. Then rewrite the manuscript at least once, twice is even better. Don’t bring in a professional until you have made the book the best you possibly can on your own.
Prepared for Feedback?
You need to prepare yourself for feedback, criticism and direction. Ideally, the feedback you receive won’t hurt your feelings. After all, your editor only wants to help you see your manuscript with new eyes by providing suggestions for how to capitalize on its strengths and address its weaknesses.
This kind of feedback can be hard to hear, so try to go into the process willing to consider changes. You might, for instance, agree with the editor about a problem in the manuscript, yet disagree with his suggestions about how to fix it. By talking this through with him, rather than just dismissing it, you can brainstorm a different solution.
Revision Takes Time
After investing significant time writing a book, it’s easy to start feeling desperate to finally have it “done”—so much so that you risk shortchanging the editing process. But the truth is you cannot respond to a round of thorough developmental editing in a week. It’s a waste of time and money to hire someone to copy edit your book before you’ve addressed all developmental and line edits.
Consider paying to have your first chapter copy edited to serve as an example. Otherwise, hold off until the manuscript needs nothing but that final polish.
What Do You Want?
Tell your editor what you want your book to accomplish. Do you want to publish this book or do you want to learn how to write better? Is it a once-in-a-lifetime project, such as a memoir? If want to write additional books, aim for an editor who will explain her rationale for the edits, so you can learn from the process and truly make the most of your investment in services.
The Best it Can Be
It means making it something you feel truly represents what you wanted to do and say. Achieving this for you is important, your editor has to tell you things about your manuscript that your friends, relatives or even critique group members might be afraid to say.
The editors or proofreaders job is to partner with you on a journey to make your vision of your book working – with the way your prospective readers will see it.
This should take place as the final stage before your work is ready for publication. All editing and all the rewrites should be done before proofreading. The only stages that come after proofreading are e-book formatting or book layout for print, and cover design.
Proofreaders Correct Your Manuscript and Will:
- Find spelling errors & typos,
- Catch punctuation errors
- They will correct grammatical errors
- Dedect missing or duplicated words
- Point out mis-applied or inconsistent tenses
- Catch wrongly-assigned dependent clauses
Proofreader Julia answers Frequent Asked Questions in her blog:
“How about authors proofreading their own work?
If you’ve written a word that is spelled correctly, spell check will let it get through, even if you have written ‘alone’ when you meant to write ‘along’. Even prolific and very well educated writers don’t find these errors, no matter how often they have read their book …
My friend will proofread my novel for me, she has a degree in English, and it won’t cost me anything.
I would say, by all means ask a friend or two to look through your work for typos. They will probably spot quite a few. But your friend has a different mind-set to me; I don’t know you, I don’t know anything about your work, it’s all completely new to me. I don’t know what to expect – but I will find those pesky typos, it’s a whole different ball game when proofreading is your job!
Readers don’t mind a few typos, it’s the story that counts. They can see that I’m a good writer.
A few typos may look like a little matter – but they can cost you big business.”
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