Q. I've written my first book. I don't have a lot of money, and copy editing
seems pretty expensive. Do I really need anything more than proof reading?|
A. You can't afford NOT to have your book professionally edited. If you're submitting
to a publisher, nothing will get your manuscript rejected faster than a lack of editing. Also, submitting a poorly edited
manuscript is likely to get you blacklisted, so any future works may not even get looked at.
Even if you're self-publishing, poor or non-existent editing will hurt your ability to get bookstore
placements, favorable reviews, and sales. First-time authors often have great stories to tell, but doing so clearly and
readably isn't easy. It takes a high level of skill and experience. A professional editor can help transform a good idea
into a marketable product.
Q. I want to sell my book at an upcoming event. That means the editing has to get done
in a week to meet my printing deadline. Can you finish it that quickly?
A. Good editing requires close attention and careful thought. While we can take on a
rush job, this may require a premium rate. Other clients' work must be delayed, and overtime hours worked. If we don't believe
we can do your job to our professional standards, we may have to decline. We don't want your project, or our reputation,
to suffer from an excessively hurried pace of work.
Q. What if I disagree with an editing change you make to my manuscript? How can I tell
what you've done, and let you know what I think about it?
A. We prefer to use Microsoft Word, which has the very useful Track Changes feature. This
lets a client see at a glance every revision we make, and the opportunity to approve or reject each change. A related feature
lets both editor and writer post marginal comments, linked to text passages. This is helpful for explaining changes, asking
questions, or clarifying context.
The complete history of editing, review and approvals is tracked in the Word document. That file is sent back and
forth throughout the editing process. Many authors welcome the give-and-take with their editors, which can help both parties
do their best work.
Q. How many times will you edit my manuscript? I want the best possible job, but don't
want to spend more than necessary.
A. On any copy editing job, I'll provide a minimum of one thorough editing pass, and a
second review to correct any issues the author raises at the preliminary approval stage. Any additional editing -- a careful
"second pass," or back-and-forth discussion of structural or plot issues -- is at the author's option. When working on an hourly rate, it's the same
for the second edit as for the first. (Third and fourth, too.) Normally a second pass takes much less time than the first.
Q. I'd like you to work on a per-page rate. How can I figure out how many pages my book
will end up filling when it's edited and formatted?
A. For editing purposes, the standard for one page is 250 words. If you write in Microsoft
Word, it's easy to get a total word count. In Word 2010, for example, under the "Review" tab, just click the "Word Count" icon.
(It's the one that might make you think of a Jackson Five song: "ABC, 123.")
When it's time to format the book for publication, after the final editing is done, many variables will affect the
actual page count. The page dimensions, margins, the type font and size used, are all major issues. Illustrations, formatting
decisions about chapter headings, footnotes if any, etc., will also affect the number of pages.
But well before that stage, to calculate the amount of editing work your manuscript needs, get a word count and
divide by 250.
Q. Can you submit my book to a publisher after it's been edited?
A. You should work with an agent. Most publishers don't accept submissions from authors
or editors, only from established literary agents. I'm not an agent and am not able to represent you in dealing with a publishing
Keep in mind that, even after a manuscript has been professionally edited, there is no guarantee that it will be
accepted by a publisher. Nevertheless, there are many options available for first-time authors. Those include some small, specialized
imprints that will consider self-submissions by first-time authors. And, of course, there is the self-publishing route, which can
make good sense for many highly specialized "niche" works.