Editing Defined - Frequently Asked Questions About Editing and Writing
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Frequently Asked Questions About Editing and Writing

What are the different types of editing services?

There are many different types of editing in writing that a writer needs to know about when hiring an editor. The main levels are proofreading, editing, copy editing, and rewriting.

  • Proofreading – a form of editing that generally includes looking for punctuation, grammatical, and spelling errors.
  • Editing – an advanced form of editing that, in addition to proofreading, checks for things including word flow, word choice, sentence/paragraph structure, and consistency.
  • Copy Editing – a hybrid form of editing that offers both proofreading and editing, along with an editorial or manuscript critique. Suggestions are usually made in the comments section of the document.
  • Rewriting – an advanced form of editing that generally includes writing new content (I only offer this service for business marketing and info publishing content).

What's the difference between proofreading and editing?

These terms are often used interchangeably; however, they mean two different things.

Proofreading is a basic form of editing that generally only considers punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Many proofreaders also check for inconsistencies in document layout and formatting.

Editing, on the other hand, may include sentence restructuring or word reorganizing to improve word flow or dissemination of information. There are different levels of editing, as well. Some writers only need light editing and proofreading, while others need heavy editing that might overlap into rewriting.

What exactly is copy editing?

Copy editing is generally for fiction writers who are looking to hire an editor to have their manuscript professionally edited before submitting it to a traditional publisher or a printer for self-publishing. It includes both basic and advanced editing.

My copy editing services include an in-depth line edit and an editorial critique. During the line edit, I carefully review the manuscript for punctuation, grammatical, and spelling issues and inconsistencies; word flow and word choice; sentence, paragraph, and dialogue structure; and inconsistencies with details or word usage. Other suggestions may relate to character and plot. Comments are noted in the comments section of the document. When I write the editorial critique, I highlight strengths and weaknesses and provide recommendations on how to solve recurring writing issues.

This process is highly beneficial for writers as it helps them improve their writing skills. That is my primary goal with copy editing.

What should self-publishing editing services include?

Editing services for self-publishing writers can come in many different shapes and sizes, and greatly depend on the writer's specific needs.

Once a writer has a solid draft, it's time for the copy editing phase. This includes the in-depth line edits and editorial critique. After this round of copy editing and after the writer has revised the manuscript based on the editor's line edits and the critique, the writer may wish to have the editor do a final round of proofreading. Many editors offer this final round for an additional fee.

How does an editor copy edit a novel?

Most freelance copy editors today use tracked changes and the comments section in the document to provide change suggestions. Since most suggestions are subjective, I provide all of them in the comments section of the document. It's important for writers to understand that the ultimate decision is up to them. My job isn't to twist anyone's arm into wording the manuscript a particular way. Instead, it's to help the writer see how making changes could improve the manuscript.

What do you get with a copy edit and an editorial critique?

So, what do you get with copy editing services? Aside from suggestions on how to improve a manuscript, a writer is offered direction or confirmation relating to his strengths and weaknesses. After the copy editing phase, he should be informed of areas where he needs to pay particular attention.

How do you hire an editor for a book?

The hiring process should be an easy one. Once you have found an editor you feel comfortable working with, you two will agree on price and sign an agreement or contract that outlines the scope of the editing project. The editor will let you know when work will begin and when you should expect to receive your manuscript and critique.

Many editors require half of the estimated project fee upfront prior to getting started on the project and the remainder upon project completion.

Does a copy edit include any revisions?

Generally, no. Since all or most of the work is done in the comments section of the document and the editorial critique is an evaluation of the manuscript, revisions are not included.

A writer may decide he needs an additional round of proofreading once he has gone through each suggestion and taken a fine-tooth comb through his manuscript once more. A final round of proofreading is typically done for an additional fee and should be priced lower than the copy editing service.

How do you edit a novel manuscript for submission?

Having a novel professionally edited is one of the best ways to make sure your manuscript is polished for submission, either for self-publishing or for submission to a traditional publisher.

Many people believe a writer needs to hire an editor prior to submitting the manuscript to an agent or a traditional publisher; however, that's not always the case. If your manuscript is polished and satisfies an agent or publisher, the publication process will likely include its own rounds of editing anyway. The trick is in finding someone who likes your manuscript and is willing to work with you to help adjust it to what is likely to sell.

What are some tips on self-editing for fiction writers?

Polishing your manuscript prior to hiring an editor will help you get the most out of the copy editing service. Particular attention should be given to correcting punctuation, spelling, and grammar, along with setting the manuscript aside for a length of time so you can come back to it with fresh eyes and a refreshed mind.

Here are some more tips:

  • Give it time.
  • Review the manuscript carefully for errors and plot issues.
  • Check for plot issues first, then direct your attention to the proofreading basics.
  • Get a beta reader to give you constructive feedback.
  • Take the beta readers' feedback into consideration and see where else the manuscript needs attention.
  • Review your manuscript more than once (John Gardner tells young writers to re-read their manuscripts critically at least 100 times).
  • Spend time strengthening characters and plot.
  • Spend time fixing the wording – how can you make a sentence or scene more vivid or more interesting?
  • Review scenes – are they necessary to the plot or character development? Are they too long or just right? Are you leaving out the parts people skip?

How do you find a professional editor for your novel?

Finding an editor to edit your novel can be a bit of a challenge. However, there are several ways to find one. Doing a Google or Twitter search usually turns up some options, then there's word of mouth, finding out who your fellow writers have hired, checking Twitter lists for editors, searching Quora for professional editors. The list is a long one.

Before hiring an editor, make sure you feel comfortable with the person. Before you put out any inquiries, follow the editor on social media, read their blog, study them, find out what genres they have worked with. Get to know them first. This will help you make a good decision. Do you get bad vibes? Are you having second thoughts? These are important things to consider. Hiring an editor you don't feel comfortable with will make the editing process a living nightmare for both of you. 

What should you look for in editing services?

The most important thing to look for is good work. Check for samples. The editor should have strong attention to detail, so pay attention to the editing sample and see if there is anything in the sample that you would have changed or corrected. Are there grammatical or spelling mistakes that the editor missed?

What should you look for in a book editor?

Choosing the right editor for your novel will help you make the most of the services and give you fresh insight into how you can improve your manuscript. You'll want to make sure the editor lives and breathes writing, editing, grammar, and reading. Those are important activities for an editor.

Another important quality is attention to detail. How well an editor catches minor details will determine how much you get out of the service. A good editor should be able to pick out inconsistencies in the spelling of names and places, for instance.

While it's helpful to choose an editor who has worked on manuscripts in your genre, this certainly isn't a critical requirement. This match may even provide some fresh new ideas for your book.

What are some tips on editing a manuscript for publication?

Editing a manuscript for self-publication should include a thorough review and edit, along with format and layout correction. Are the chapter numbers correct? Is each section (chapter, scene, etc.) laid out correctly? Did you use one space or two spaces between sentences? Are there three spaces when there should only be one or two? Are there any blank pages that shouldn't be there?

Doing as much correction as you can will help the process move along smoothly and help result in a polished product.

How do you self-edit your manuscript for publication?

Not interested in hiring a professional editor for your novel? This question requires a full-length book or two. But basically, becoming an editor is the best alternative to not hiring one, and even then, it's risky because you'll likely miss out on fresh new ideas that could really improve your manuscript. As the writer, you're so close to your work that it's easy to miss things that an outsider would easily catch.

Following the checklist I outlined above is a great first step. You'll also want to check out my article on self-editing for writers – http://jodycalkins.com/6-tips-to-editing-your-own-writing-work/

What are the best tips for hiring an editor for your novel?

The biggest question when it comes to hiring an editor is where do you look for one? It might be as simple as keeping an eye open on social media or in your writing community for someone who mentions their editing work or a writer who mentions his editor.

Other ways are via an internet search, a Twitter search, a writers forum, or an editor's association.

One thing to keep in mind is that just because an editor is a member of a particular editorial association doesn't mean the editor has the skills you're looking for. So, be sure to do your research and use the tips I provided earlier.

Got additional questions? Send me an email or connect with me on Facebook. I'm happy to help!