- Developmental editing
- Fact checking
Why do I need a copyeditor?
Your written work is essentially the child of your brain, and it’s difficult to be objective with your own child. You’ve spent countless hours with it, writing and rewriting, and you’re very close to it—so close that you might not see any problems. After all, you know what you want to say and can follow your own story or argument. You might miss typos and other errors because your mind’s eye supplies the correct information.
A polished, well-edited, and well-formatted manuscript will be taken seriously by professional publishers and publications. If you choose to self-publish, such a work will be more likely to garner positive reviews and recommendations.
I seek to preserve the author’s unique perspective and vision for their work.
What does a copyeditor do?
A copyeditor reads a manuscript closely, addressing problems while respecting the author’s voice. Depending on the author’s needs, a basic or heavy edit will be done.
What’s the difference between a basic and a heavy copyediting?
A basic copyedit will correct errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage, and syntax. In fiction, glaring plot errors, i.e., character A is a native Californian on page 3 but was born and raised in Iowa on page 234, are identified and queried. Nonfiction will be checked to make sure all required information (notes, artwork, captions, etc.) is present. Glaring factual errors will be identified and queried. The requisite style, whether Chicago Manual of Style, APA, or house, will be applied. This level of edit assumes that the style has been followed carefully and will have few errors.
A heavy copyedit includes the work of a basic edit and a closer attention to the text. In both fiction and nonfiction, heavy copyediting reads for clarity of information and appropriateness for the intended audience. If information seems to be missing, queries will alert the author. When working with fiction, the copyeditor makes sure that the plot makes sense and the characters are consistent in physical and motivational details. If necessary, suggestions may be made as to the pace of the story and questions asked about missing material. A heavy edit of nonfiction will query unclear and/or missing information and perform some fact checking if errors are suspected. Missing citations will be pointed out, as will any need for permissions for copyrighted material. The manuscript may be reformatted to conform to the requested style, including in text citations, notes, and references.
What is developmental editing?
A developmental edit usually begins with an evaluative critique of the manuscript that notes problems and lists the editor’s proposals for correcting them. The editor focuses on the “big picture,” including, but not limited to,
- the plot (or argument, if the work is nonfiction)
- Can the reader follow and believe in the plot and characters?
- Does the argument present supporting research and citations? Do conclusions and assertions made make sense?
- Are the chapters parallel in length and voice (i.e., first or third person)? If they are deliberately incongruous, can the reader understand how and why this is intentional?
- Are transitions logical and smooth?
- Are organizational devices (headings, subheadings, timelines, graphics/illustrations) used effectively?
- Is the voice appropriate for the intended audience? Watch for extremes (the tone is too informal or too “academic,” too personal or too passive, inflammatory or boring, etc.).
- Is the writing clear and direct? Watch for repetition, confusing passages, and missing information.
A developmental edit can then progress to a close reading, involving line by line work. The author and editor should be in close communication to exchange suggestions and ideas.
I’m not sure what level of copyediting I need.
The best way to determine this is to give your copyeditor a sample to edit. A sample is usually three to ten pages long and can come from any part of the manuscript that you think is representative of your work. You can also provide a brief plot synopsis if it is necessary for understanding the sample. Your copyeditor will make recommendations about what level of editing is needed and can give an estimate of the cost.
What’s your rate?
My rates are based upon the level of editing required, the time frame requested, and any special expertise sought. The Editorial Freelancers Association (www.the-efa.org) publishes a table of common editorial rates. Again, a sample is essential to providing you with a cost estimate.
How much do you charge for a sample edit?
I will edit a reasonable sample and make recommendations without charge.