A large number of people get in touch with me every week to ask for a quote for editing or proofreading. I’ve put together these guidelines for contacting me for a price and turnaround quote, but it would apply to most editors and proofreaders I know, with a few tweaks here and there.
Sending me all this information in one go won’t give you a price decrease or a quicker turnaround if we end up making an agreement, but it will make the process easier and quicker – for both of us.
What does your prospective editor need to know?
This is what I need you to send to me in order to be able to give you a fair price and turnaround quote:
- Is the material a book or something else (a website, advertising material, etc.)?
- If it’s a book, is it fiction or non-fiction?
- What is it, generally, about? (I have a list of things I don’t work on in the Content section of my Terms and Conditions – it is really helpful if you look at that first and check)
- How long is the book – in words?
- Is it finished and ready for editing yet?
- When will you need it back from me?
- What do you want me to do – editing or proofreading (see the distinction here, or the summary below)
- A sample of your work – preferably from the middle of the book
Other editors might ask for other information at the first stage (if you’re an editor, do add a comment if you have other questions you ask – I’d love to know!)
Why does your editor need this information?
I need this information so I can work out
- Whether I am the best fit for editing your book (if I’m not, I usually have someone I can recommend you on to)
- Whether I can fit your project in to my schedule (I’m pretty busy with regulars and pre-booked work, so it’s unlikely although not impossible that I can fit you in at short notice)
- What is a fair price, given the time it will take me to do your editing or proofreading
- What is a fair turnaround time, given the scope of the work (with relation to the work I have in my schedule already)
I think that any editor would give the same answers.
A note on timing
Good editors and proofreaders get booked up quickly. If you have any idea of when your book will be ready for editing, start looking around for editors then, not a week before you want to put it out there.
For one thing, once you’ve had your book edited, that doesn’t mean it’s immediately ready for publication (see this article on that topic).
For another thing, your editor is likely to have other projects going on and will need to slot you into their schedule. The further in advance you ask them, the more likely they are to be able to fit you in.
I will never mind a vague estimate for a few months’ time, followed up by a firming-up process when we agree when the manuscript will arrive with me and when I’ll return it.
A last-minute request might work, but it’s much better and likely to be successful if you plan in advance.
Quick check: what service do I need?
Although this doesn’t quite fit in here, this is the issue that I have to clarify most frequently, so here’s what I send back to prospects explaining what I do – it’s useful to have a think about this before you contact me and decide what you need to be done:
I provide an editing service for fiction and non-fiction books and other texts. This will cover identification and resolution of
- spelling mistakes
- sentence structure (repetitive structures, etc.)
- wording (repetitive word use, etc.)
- consistent spelling / hyphenation / capitalisation throughout the text
- comments where wording is unclear and suggestions about changes
This is typically done in Word with Track Changes turned on.
Substantive editing includes all of this plus suggestions on major changes to the format, ordering and content of the book.
My proofreading service looks at the manuscript once it’s ready for publication and checks for:
- layout (including headings separated from text, page numbering, etc.)
- matching contents page with headings and page numbers
This is typically done in PDF using comment balloons to mark up the text
Sending the correct information to an editor
This article has explained what information I need in order to provide a price and time turnaround quotation for editing your book. Other editors might need other information, and I’d love them to let me know if that’s the case. Hopefully this will make the process smoother for the author and the editor in those early stages of creating our arrangement.
Read the next article in this series: How do I negotiate with an editor and book my project in?
Other useful articles on this website