Today is my 4-year work anniversary! So … some stats.
I *just* pipped 2019/20 to the post with the number of words I worked on, coming in at 2,797,535. My number of clients was also at an all-time high, just beating last year’s 28 with 29! Of these, 14 were repeat clients – the same as almost every other year. However, the number of publishers I worked with rose from a steady but modest 1 to a much-improved 4.
The types of jobs (i.e. copyediting, dev editing, proofreading, etc.) I did remained about average – but I introduced a new category for ‘line editing’ into which some of my would-be copyediting numbers were syphoned this year. If these two categories are mashed together, that would make 69% of my work copyediting in terms of ‘number of projects in that category’.
When it comes to income source, though, copyediting is up on last year from 42% to 56% of my income, but it’s still less than the previous two years. Dev editing is down this year from 25% to 10% of my income, but this is comparable to 2021/22. Critiques and manuscript assessments, on the other hand, have risen from a steady 1-2% in previous years to 6% of my income this year.
For the first time, I’ve geeked up on the types of writing I’ve been working on – 63% of my projects were fiction, 19% non-fiction, and 3% were specified as memoir, 8% as academic and 6% as corporate.
Now for the self-care bit! My time spent working was the highest ever, coming in at 400 hours more than last year and 177 more than the year before (I wasn’t tracking it the first year). I also spent a whopping 85% of my time on actual billable work (rather than things like admin, CPD, marketing, IT, etc.), topping a steady rise from 73% to 77% to 81% in previous years. Despite this, turnover and profit weren’t as high as in 2020/21 (my top year so far) – and this resulted in my lowest hourly rate since starting out in business.
So although I’m pleased with the way the year has gone overall, this has definitely provided me with some food for thought! I started the year determined to work even harder and fit in as many projects as possible – but now it looks like I really need to focus on working smarter as well!
Today marks three years since I went self-employed! And I’m still alive. (I do have over seven years of editing experience – but only three of them as a sole trader.) I can’t resist this opportunity to geek out over my stats – and use them as a learning experience.
Over the last year, I’ve edited fewer words and done fewer jobs than in either of the previous two years – ‘only’ just over two million words and 44 jobs. Was this down to choice or chance? Realistically, probably a combination of the two. Everyone has been tightening their belts this year, particularly in winter, but on the flip side I embarked on a major gardening project earlier in the year, so I had to carve out some time for that.
In fact, over the course of the year I worked fewer hours in total than I did the previous year, so the drop in word count and job count makes perfect sense. As you might expect from that, my turnover and profit were both also down from my Year 2 figures but still up compared to Year 1.
While it might seem disheartening at first for me to see those figures drop, I actually found it quite encouraging. I was hoping I’d get some useful information from this exercise that I could use to help me do better next year. It appears that I could increase my income relatively easily by the simple method of doing more work! Considering that I love my job, that doesn’t sound like a bad plan at all!
Also … I survived! So even though there might be a modicum of disappointment in my heart on looking at the paperwork … I made it. I’m here standing in front of next year. So, while I might not be about to impress anyone with my bank balance, I did enough. Enough to keep body and soul together. Enough to still love my job and have my mental health.
It’s true that the last few months haven’t been so easy when it comes to finding customers – I can’t say I blame anyone for deciding that paying the gas bill is more important than getting their book edited – but my number of clients has stayed pretty stable. At 24 in total, it’s down 4 on Year 2 but the same as Year 1. Out of those 24, 12 were repeat clients, so I’m super happy that people like my work enough to come back!
Like my first year in business, 19 of my clients were individuals this year (down from 24 in Year 2), but the number of agencies I work with has doubled from 2 to 4. This is good news for me, because these agencies typically supply a number of projects every year. My new contacts have been a delight to work with, and so have their authors!
One of my most dramatic stats is the increase in the proportion of my income from developmental editing. Between Year 1 and Year 2 this rose slightly from 4% to 9%, but last year it took a massive jump to 25%. I love dev editing, so this makes total sense, but it’s still good to see that my training is starting to pay off and my CPD in the meantime hasn’t been wasted!
I’ve also added no fewer than five new strings to my bow. Alongside the Big Four of dev editing, copyediting, proofreading, and critiques/manuscript assessments, I’ve also added columns for sample checking (ad hoc work for a specific agency), line editing (which I already did before but listed under the copyediting umbrella), beta reading, writing, and … artwork! (I’ve only waited twenty years after graduation to start earning money from artwork …)
None of these new services are huge earners yet, but I’m happy to diversify and bring my skills with words (and pen/brush) to bear on a wider range of projects for people on all kinds of budgets.
Although my total time spent working was down, the proportion of it spent on actual editing or proofreading (or manuscript assessing or beta reading, etc.) – as opposed to doing admin, finances, marketing, networking, CPD, and so on – was up from 77% in Year 2 to 81% this year, which I think is pretty good. It’s my favourite part of the job, after all!
Doing this exercise has been totally nerdy and spreadsheety, but I love it. I definitely feel energised for the year ahead! I started the year thinking that perhaps taking my foot off the gas slightly might be good for my mental health, but now I’m not so sure. I’m excited by the prospect of working more and harder and, hopefully, better. I get a real feeling of satisfaction from completing a project or securing a new client. So here’s to 2023 and my fourth independent year in business!
It’s finally here – I’m offering developmental editing as well as copyediting and proofreading! I’ve been excited about this service for some time now, but thanks to the chaos of 2020 I’ve only just got around to launching it.
I’d like to thank those authors who have been been my guinea pigs as I’ve been learning about developmental editing and building up my skills in this area. I can’t name you all, but I am more grateful than I can say! I hope I’ve done your books and stories justice.
I’m also benefiting from Sophie Playle’s wonderful course in Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory. There is a reason her courses are legendary!
Because I’m still at the beginning of my journey as a developmental editor and as a gesture of goodwill in difficult times and the run-up to Christmas, I’m offering developmental editing at a much-reduced rate to the next client to book in. Get in touch for your free quote!
My preferred genres for developmental editing are fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, YA, romance, horror, crime and literary fiction.
At the moment I’m only offering this service for fiction, but I’m also keen to expand my skills in the non-fiction arena, so if you’re interested in being another of my guinea pigs, please do get in touch!
It’s time to take stock of the year and plan for 2020, and
this is particularly important for me as I only moved into freelancing ten days
ago. What went well for me this year and what are my plans for next year?
It’s easy to scramble along from one day to the next
thinking you’re doing ‘okay’ but not feeling as if you’re achieving anything
noteworthy. That’s typical of me – if I don’t have my head down working like a
demon, I’m panicking that I’ll never work again! Whether I’m looking for work
or actually doing the work, I’m always motivated, but analysing what I’ve done
isn’t something that I carve out a lot of time for. So when I did this a few
days ago, I was pleasantly surprised.
How did the year go?
Over the last year (2019) I’ve done thirty-nine projects for
eight new clients and ten repeat ones. (I count publishers, agencies, packagers
and ‘middlepeople’ as single clients rather than counting every author I worked
with through those channels.) I’m pretty happy with that! Next year I’d like to
find more new clients than I did this year, but of course repeat clients are
always good – a testament to the fact that they were pleased with my work!
Twenty-six of my projects were books, six were essays, four
were ‘other’ (websites, emails, blurbs, instruction manuals, newsletters,
interviews and biographies), two were short stories and one was a writing
project – my first piece of work of that nature. Bite-size corporate projects like
proofreading emails or web pages slot in nicely around other work, but books
are still my first love. Out of those, fifteen were fiction and eleven were
Apart from my activity on social media and various forums,
the only real promotion I did was a full-page advert in Writers’ Forum magazine and an article that I was kindly invited to
write for the July/August
edition of Editing Matters, the SfEP’s trade
publication. (I was surprised to find out that I’ve actually published six blog
posts myself, not including this one, but five of them were posted within the
first four months of the year!)
One great way to round off the year was with a lovely
testimonial that was volunteered by one of the non-fiction authors I worked
with. She mentioned my ‘versatility, keen eye, outstanding professional
communication, efficiency and verve’.
I usually have to ask clients for testimonials – with my usual British
reticence, and not nearly as often as I should – but they serve as a fantastic
pick-me-up when they land in my inbox.
Plans for next year
I’m excited about the prospect of spreading my wings,
especially when it comes to promotion, CPD and networking.
All too often, time spent on marketing or networking can
feel like time wasted if you don’t see an immediate return, but now that I’m
only accountable to myself, I hope to look into various other options for spreading
the word about who I am and what I do. Corporate clients are a notoriously hard
nut to crack, and I still find myself drawn to books by self-publishing
authors, but I’m not going to close my mind or eyes to any potential openings
in the world of business.
I’m particularly looking forward to doing more face-to-face
networking with my fellow editors, who are always amazingly supportive and
I’m also keen to set some of my budget aside for training
courses and CPD in 2020. I’m very close to meeting the requirements to upgrade
to Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP – which I’d be over the moon to
achieve – but I do need a little more training to get there, and I have my eye
on a couple of courses that would help me hone my skills and benefit my
One major avenue I want to pursue in 2020 is developmental
editing. I’ve already started some informal development in this area, and
ideally I’d like to complete some formal training in this area too. I also have
a reading list of dev editing books that are highly recommended by my
This might also be the year when I finally get some printed
materials done. I’m in the process of having a logo designed, and it can’t hurt
to get a few business cards and flyers. I’ve felt the lack of them a few times
over the last year, and they are particularly useful for corporate clients, who
are best reached via face-to-face networking rather than online.
As for blogging, I deprioritised it in the latter half of
2019 and I don’t think my bottom line suffered as a result – it freed up my
time to do other things – so I’m not sure yet whether I’ll simply continue to
be bad at it, whether I’ll make more of an effort, or whether I’ll feel more
naturally inclined to blog now that I’m a free agent, so to speak.
I’m excited about 2020. My successes this year have given me
confidence that I can continue to do well, and I can’t wait to improve my
skills and pass those improvements on to my existing clients and, hopefully, a
whole swath of new ones! I’m sure I have what it takes to be a good dev editor,
and I’m looking forward to crystallising that with some training and a few
juicy projects for my portfolio.
I feel like I may have been on the edge of burnout for a while, but now, writing this, I don’t feel as though the cure is going to consist of working less. There is no working less on my horizon, only working more, but for me it’s working differently that is the key. I feel energised, not dismayed, by the prospect of all the extra things I want to fit in next year! Despite the variety of work in my portfolio, I’ve never had a project I disliked or was reluctant to get stuck into. I’ve enjoyed every piece of work I’ve had – no exaggeration – and spent every day glad that I get to do this for a living. But I also feel that working on other things – CPD, marketing and networking – will freshen up my brain and help me to work faster and more efficiently across the board. Let’s get started!
Maybe it’s just a coincidence. You don’t see a particular mistake for years and then several examples turn up at once and you find yourself asking, ‘Is this a thing now? Why are people doing this?’ So here we go. How to improve your writing by avoiding things that I don’t like. Will it actually improve your writing? Maybe. No guarantees. Depends on context, etc. etc. etc. Try it and see!
There seems to be a trend for writers to use ‘inside’ or ‘within’ where the little word ‘in’ – or ‘into’ – would work just as well. Hence we have ‘The hero strode inside the room’ or ‘She reached within the cupboard’ or ‘He put it inside his pocket’. Try substituting ‘into’ (first two examples) or ‘in’ (last example). Doesn’t it sound cleaner and crisper? See also: ‘placed’ instead of ‘put’: for example, ‘Maria placed it inside the box’ vs ‘Maria put it into the box’. People are always placing things inside things instead of simply putting them in. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for these usages, just that it would probably improve your writing if you stopped and thought about it first to make sure that’s really the best way of saying what you want to say.
There’s another construction that’s been bugging me lately. Again, it’s not ‘an error’ per se, but it’s something you might like to think about to make sure you’re using it consciously and to maximum effect. Technically I’d call it ‘gerund vs infinitive’ – here’s an example:
‘She started walking along the path.’ Compare and contrast with: ‘She started to walk along the path.’ (walking – gerund; to walk – infinitive)
I’ve been seeing a lot of gerunds lately – the ‘ing’ form of the verb – especially in action sequences. ‘Dave started shooting …’ ‘Emma started running …’ and so on. I can totally see why people do it – it has a certain flow, and it tends to be how people talk, as well. But it can actually serve to slow down the ‘feel’ of the action where the infinitive would keep it moving along. This is the case especially where the action is interrupted or moves rapidly on. Neither construction is right or wrong, but if you keep it in mind while you’re reading through your own work, you can make an informed decision about which one you want.
Those are the most obvious things I’ve seen recently that give me an impression of laziness rather than bad grammar or mistakes. When one construction is used a lot at the expense of another which works just as well or better, it just makes me think that the author has got into a comfortable groove and hasn’t really ‘seen’ their own writing. It doesn’t make it bad writing, but if you take a look through fresh eyes and try mixing things up a little, it might give your work that extra pop and sparkle that elevates it from ‘competent’ to ‘good’ or from ‘good’ to ‘great’.
Final note: a character telling another character something is still ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. I find ‘show, don’t tell’ rather a simplistic instruction – there’s a place for both – but don’t think you can stick something into dialogue and it suddenly becomes better. It’s particularly annoying when a character has spent a couple of paragraphs thinking about, for example, how Mr X can’t possibly be a plausible suspect because of Y and Z, and then feels compelled to repeat their thought process word-for-word to their colleague in the next chapter.
It’s about time I came clean. I hate writing blog posts.
There. I said it. I thought long and hard and I … oh, who am I kidding. I didn’t have to think hard at all to figure out that honesty is the best policy. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out that if I feel like that, there must be a whole load more people out there who feel the same. Can I come and join your tribe?
Writing blog posts is something ‘they’ say you must do in order to help your site’s SEO, boost your visibility, and attract lots of new potential customers to your site. By ‘they’, I mean marketing how-to guides and other successful editors. And they have a point. If no one knows my site is here, how are they going to find my awesome skills?
So I want writers to come to my site. Writers who need an editor and proofreader. Obviously. And what do writers want to read about? Well, how to be a better/quicker/more productive/published/successful writer, of course. So I try and write posts with that in mind. Posts that will help writers.
There’s one important flaw in this approach. Writing isn’t my best skill. I’m an editor. Now, that’s not to say that my writing is bad or that I’ve got no useful advice to offer – but it does mean that I often feel as though I’m winging it or cribbing information from elsewhere. And, while I know the world is big enough to take more than one ‘how to beat writer’s block’ article and more than one piece on ‘how to write dialogue’ … I don’t just want to rehash the same old things.
So I’ve decided to take a new approach. An honest approach. I’ve touched on this before with posts about my searches and my SfEP professional membership status, but now I want to grasp it with both hands and own it. I don’t mean posting about my personal life, soap opera style … but I’m going to be myself, and that might mean writing about things that aren’t writing, and maybe even things that aren’t editing. In this way I hope to post more often, and give you stuff to read that comes from the heart, rather than from a marketing expert’s idea of what will help my site rankings.
So here we have an irrelevant but sexy picture of a Triumph motorbike. Not connected with writing, but hey, your main character has got to have some mode of transport, right? How about it?
I’ve done a post a bit like this before, but as an editor I like to stop every now and then, take stock and be grateful for all the new things I’ve learned recently as a result of online searches. This time everything is fairly innocuous and unlikely to bring an ominous knock at the door! These 11 searches were all undertaken as part of my work on two books; one fiction, one non-fiction.
Where were Harper & Row located back in 1964? (New York.)
Please rest assured that I do look at more than one source when fact-checking, but I’m not going to bore you with all of them!
That, dear reader, is why my head is full of bits of information that probably wouldn’t even be useful in a pub quiz, but I forget to take my vitamin D and put the bins out. Prize if you can guess which searches were for the fiction book and which for the non-fiction.
Writers, what have you been researching recently? And fellow editors, what strange facts have you learned in the course of your work?
You’ve finished your draft, done a spot of proofreading of your work and followed last week’s advice on how to choose an editor. You’ve found someone you like and you’re about to embark on that scary journey: getting your book edited. You’re probably wondering how you can get the most out of working with an editor, so that’s what I’m about to tell you!
I’ll start by saying that, if you’re like most writers, the thing uppermost in your mind at this point might be how you can avoid falling out with your editor. Perhaps you’re simultaneously scared of getting your work pulled apart and nervous in case you ‘push back’ and rile your editor, ending in a big, messy fall-out over a serial comma. You’ve picked someone you like and you seem to have a good rapport with them so far, but you’re afraid that will all come crashing down when you see what they’ve done to your manuscript.
I’ve got news for you. We don’t want to fall out with you, either.
Sometimes a grammar or punctuation rule or a particular spelling is right or wrong. Sometimes it’s a matter of opinion or personal preference. If it’s the latter, we won’t make it a hill to die on. If you want ‘spelled’ instead of ‘spelt’, or ‘well-being’ with a hyphen, guess what? It’s up to you! We aren’t scary grammar nazis; we want to be nice, and we want to help you and make your book as good as it can be.
With that in mind, here are some things you can do to make the editing process easier for both of us.
1. Know what kind of editing you’re getting
By the time you’ve got to the point of engaging an editor they should have gone through this with you, but to be on the safe side, make sure you know what kind of editing you’re getting – and that it matches up with what you need. As a copy-editor, I can’t do my best job if major structural reorganisation is needed, and if you want me to re-edit your work after you’ve rewritten and added parts, I’ll have to charge you extra – and most editors will do the same (it’s in my Ts and Cs, so make sure you read the small print!).
2. Be willing to consider changes
I was going to phrase this ‘Don’t be a dick’, but on reflection that seemed a bit harsh. I can honestly say that I’ve never had an editing client who has been rude about my suggestions, comments or queries. But I’m sure they exist, and you don’t want to be That Person. It’s natural to feel a little bit defensive about your work, but try to bear in mind that your editor wants your work to read as well as possible. If something is unclear to them, it may well be unclear to your target audience too. Remember that it’s up to you whether you accept all their suggestions, so try to not feel too dismayed, but also remember that they’re professionals and have made those suggestions for a reason. If it feels as though they simply haven’t ‘got’ your tone or what you’re trying to do in your book, have a chat with them about it. They should be on your side helping you achieve your vision!
3. Brace yourself
When you first open your edited manuscript file, there will be Track Changes – or the equivalent of red pen – all over it. And I mean all over. It’ll look shocking. I might as well get that out of the way. That doesn’t mean your writing is bad. Brace yourself and grit your teeth. I can pretty much guarantee that a lot of the ‘corrections’ will be things like changing a comma into a full stop or adding a space on either side of an ellipsis.
4. Turn ‘Simple Markup’ on
In Word, under the ‘Review’ section of the toolbar, you have the option to view ‘All Markup’ or ‘Simple Markup’. Start by viewing the document with simple markup turned on. This means that you’ll only see the editor’s comments – queries or suggestions – rather than every single edit, deletion, insertion, etc. It makes the text look a lot less scary and will help you concentrate on the important stuff. Later, if you do want to go through every tiny change, when you get to a bit that looks confusing or that you have strong feelings about, turn simple markup back on and read through the passage ‘clean’, as though you’d already accepted the editor’s suggestions. Sound alright to you now? You might be pleasantly surprised!
5. Use the opportunity to improve your writing
Look at what the editor has changed and how those changes affect the flow of the text as a whole. This may help you improve your writing for the next book – if you have one planned!
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
You are perfectly within your rights to ask the editor to explain their rationale for certain decisions. It doesn’t mean you’re arguing with them; it just means you’re curious. Any editor worth their salt will be happy to tell you why they’ve done what they’ve done. If they’ve changed something wholesale without consulting you, there’s a good chance it’s straight-up wrong rather than just a matter of stylistic preference. Ask and you’ll learn!
7. Don’t ask too many questions
This sounds counterintuitive, but it’s just a shorter way of saying don’t bog the process down by questioning absolutely everything. The more you ask, the longer it will take, and you may end up getting charged extra. Got a question? Ask away! Want to go through the edit line by line with your editor? You’ve probably got too many questions. Be brave and make your own decisions about which changes you want to accept and reject. Remember: you don’t have to agree with everything your editor has suggested.
8. Use the appropriate technology
I usually work on manuscripts in Word, so I’ll refer to Track Changes here, but if you and your editor are working on a pdf document my advice applies equally to pdf markup. Use the technology available to you. Use Track Changes and Comments. Please don’t send your edits, comments or responses by email or as a separate document. You might think you’re referring to page 114, but by the time your comment gets back to the editor, they’ve continued to make changes and page 114 is now page 113 or 115, line references make no sense at all, and it takes them precious extra minutes to find the bits you’re talking about. They should have told you at the beginning of the process how they were going to present their feedback (Track Changes, Comments, pdf markup, etc.) and at this point you can ask how they’d like you to communicate yours in return.
9. Don’t be afraid to use the phone
It’s quicker than email and you might be able to get an instant answer. You can both ask lots of questions one after the other without any awkward written to-ing and fro-ing. Check first with your editor when they’re available to talk on the phone so that you don’t worry about interrupting them. And, of course, check that they’re comfortable with it – not everyone is, but if they are, you can both save yourselves time and energy!
10. Keep in touch
Let your editor know if you’re going away, have had a crisis or are going to be incommunicado for a while. That way they’re not left hanging and they can plan in order to either meet the deadline or extend it if necessary. Also, they won’t expect you to respond while you’re away or otherwise occupied. They should, of course, return the favour!
11. Write a testimonial
If you think your editor did a good job, say thank you – it’s always nice to be thanked. But you can go one better. Write a testimonial that they can use on their website or a review on their Facebook page if they have one. Ask them where they prefer to have their reviews (some people use Trustpilot or similar sites) and show your appreciation by writing one. Asking clients for testimonials can sometimes feel a bit awkward, especially if a bit of time has passed since the job was done, so we really appreciate it when you take the initiative – believe me!
If you’re feeling particularly generous you could even credit your editor in the book. The first time an author wrote something really nice about me in the acknowledgements I actually bought the book, despite it being an academic work on a topic totally unrelated to my interests! So you never know, you might even bag yourself an extra sale.
Go for it!
Hopefully I haven’t made you overthink the whole thing. Perhaps I should come back to the one bit of advice I almost didn’t say: don’t be a dick. Most people aren’t. You probably aren’t. In which case you’ll get on with your editor and both of you will enjoy the process of getting your book into great shape!
As a self-published author, it’s your responsibility to make sure your book is as good as it can be. An editor can help to make your book look professional instead of amateurish.
Editing your own work: getting off to a good start
Many people will tell you that you can’t edit your own work. That’s correct; you need a fresh and impartial pair of eyes. What you can do, though, is get your work into the best possible shape before you hand it over to an editor. This will save them time and, more importantly, you money!
Ask your peers – other writers – for their opinions. Join local writing groups. Meet writers online and ask them to have a look at one or two chapters for you. Don’t be shy about getting feedback from your fellow writers.
Every writer is focused on their own work, so make sure you contribute something back to the community by returning the favour for others.
Now is also a good time to write a synopsis. This is a skill in itself, so practice is good. Don’t forget that a synopsis is different from a blurb – it should be about one A4 page long, contain all the major plot points and describe what happens in your book. Don’t worry about spoilers!
Writing a synopsis is a great way of identifying weaknesses or plot holes. Read it out loud. Does it ramble or sound boring? Do things seem to happen for no reason? Maybe you just need to tweak the synopsis, or maybe you need to go back to the book and make some changes there.
When you feel happy with your book, that’s the right time to look for an editor. But wait! Do you know what you’re asking them to do, and does that match up with what you need?
Different types of editing
Think about what you expect an editor to do for you. For instance, you might envisage them:
• making sure the spelling is correct
• making the writing ‘flow’
• improving your style by, for example, removing excess adjectives or pointing out clichés
Or you might picture your editor:
• suggesting ways to make the dialogue less clunky
• helping to reveal the motives of the villain
• flagging up areas where the timeline or chapter ordering makes the story unclear and suggesting solutions
These are all things an editor could do, but they are different types of requests and may need different types of editors.
A structural or developmental editor will look at ‘big picture’ stuff like plot, characterisation, themes, voice, dialogue, pace and flow. They’ll look at how everything fits together and pick up on major inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
A copy-editor will look at spelling, punctuation, grammar, style, consistency, wording and legal issues. Their job is to get your manuscript ready for typesetting. They’ll help you make sure your work is accurate and fit-for-purpose.
There may be some crossover between those types of editing – a copy-editor might query plot holes and a developmental editor might flag up grammatical ‘tics’ – but, in general, developmental editing looks at the big picture and copy-editing looks at the fine details.
If you choose one type of editing when you really need the other, it’s frustrating for all concerned. No editor wants to spend hours correcting your spelling only for you to rewrite or delete entire chapters. And you don’t get the result you wanted.
What type of editor do you need?
‘But wait!’ I hear you cry. ‘I can’t afford all these rounds of editing! What should I prioritise?’
I’m a copy-editor, so naturally my advice would be not to skimp on the copy-edit. A lot of developmental work can be done in advance with feedback from other writers. That’s not to put down developmental editors – actually, I think they have a harder job than I do! – but if you’re on a limited budget you might only be able to afford one type of editing. No matter how great your book is, it will look terrible if it’s riddled with typos.
A word to the wise: if you’re releasing your book as an ebook only, and not getting it printed, don’t look for a proofreader. A proofreader checks your book after it’s been typeset for print (here is some more information about the difference between proofreading and copy-editing if you’re interested), so if that isn’t going to happen, proofreading isn’t what you need.
I strongly recommend you use an editor who is experienced at preparing manuscripts for conversion into ebook formats, as the requirements for ebooks are quite different from those for print.
How to find the right editor for you
Look no further! I specialise in working with self-publishing and ‘DIY’ authors. I’ll help you to get your book ready for ebook conversion and distribution, as well as for printing if necessary.
If for some inexplicable reason you don’t want me to edit your book, look for someone who has worked on similar projects. Your country’s industry body for editors may have a directory you can use (in the UK this is the SfEP Directory of Editorial Services). You can also ask other self-published authors for their recommendations.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Prepare a list before you make an approach. You have every right to query anything you don’t understand.
Don’t be put off if an editor doesn’t list prices on their website. Some charge per word or per thousand words; others, like me, base their charges on how long the job is likely to take, so they won’t be able to give you a quotation until they’ve looked at your manuscript. Neither approach is ‘better’ than the other; they each have their pros and cons and both methods are used by professionals.
It’s time to go ahead!
A good editor should respond to your enquiry within a reasonable length of time. They should be upfront about the likely cost and clear about what they can do for you. It’s important for both of you to be confident about the scope of the work. Most editors will have terms and conditions; ask to see them before work starts.
They should send you a sample edit of part of your work to give you an idea of their approach. You can decide whether they’re a good fit for you and whether they respect your ‘tone of voice’.
Once you’ve found an editor who is on your wavelength, it’s time to go ahead! Stay tuned for my next blog post about how to work with your editor to get the most out of their service.
When I’m copy-editing, my job involves fact-checking. Do I know everything? Far from it! Even when I’m editing a book on a topic I’m familiar with, I still need to double- and triple-check some facts. This means that I learn a lot during the course of a job. Here’s a snapshot of some of my recent searches and a few snippets of knowledge. Hopefully, some of you will learn something new, too!
The Anemoi are wind gods in Greek mythology – Boreas, Notus, Zephyrus and Eurus (spellings may vary!).
The Balkan countries are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Parts of Greece and Turkey are also located within the Balkan Peninsula. There is some disagreement over which countries are included in the definition.
Fenugreek is widely believed to help with lactation, although it hasn’t been conclusively proven. (I was actually breastfeeding when I discovered this, but I’ve never taken fenugreek!) Substances that increase milk supply are known as galactagogues, which sound like threatening alien lifeforms.