Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote from an editor or proofreader? #amwriting

30 Nov

handshakeA 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

  • typos
  • spelling mistakes
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • 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:

  • typos
  • inconsistencies
  • 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

Do I need editing or proofreading?

Working with Tracked Changes

What is a style sheet?

On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?

How do I negotiate with an editor and book my project in?



Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Copyediting, Ebooks, proofreading, Writing


Tags: , ,

20 responses to “Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote from an editor or proofreader? #amwriting

  1. The Story Reading Ape

    November 30, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog.


  2. claire plaisted

    November 30, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Reblogged this on Plaisted Publishing and commented:
    Just for you….Another great Editing Article.


  3. Carl D'Agostino

    November 30, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    I have done two book proof reads and all I asked was for them to autograph the copy they sent me. I made notes with page # and emailed these to author every 50 pages or so. I should have returned their book with hand written changes on pages. Just an old teacher’s way of correcting essays I suppose. I will see what “tracked changes” is. Never heard of it but tell myself “Hey Carl, this is the 90’s, get with it.” But I won’t do this for free any more. What was surprising is that both books were finished edited(alleged) copies not unedited/unreviewed rough drafts and each had so many errors. I imagine a professional would have found even more.

    In most things I look at the most common error is misplaced modifier “only”. “He only ran to the store for milk” should be ” He ran for the store for milk only” or” only milk” , right ? If you are hooking up with a publisher isn’t editing part of the set up service fee ? Ah, but you have also reminded me of the difference between editing and proof reading.

    I fiction I have learned what “suspension of reality” means and that the reader subconsciously does this in cooperation with author’s intent in fiction. But I reject this at the point of things seeming too far fetched. Eleven year old boys are better at catching this than scientists sometimes as they dwell in the comic book hero world. For example there is no way Batman is going to beat Superman. Oh, yeah ?


    • Liz Dexter

      November 30, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      There’s a lot in your comment, thank you for taking the time to post. First of all there’s a difference between traditional publishers, who don’t charge a fee to publish a book, but have been moving away from keeping editors in-house and either subcontract out to freelancers or expect the author to have had this done first, and self-publishing companies (what we used to call vanity presses) which do indeed charge a service fee but will probably add on editing services to that fee to the author. Both models mean less editing, meaning fewer well-edited books being out there. In addition, there are a lot of people preying on authors and coaxing large fees out of them, which is why I try to highlight professional and ethical practices on this blog.

      I have only actually proofread two books “in the paper” so to speak; I do know my proofreading marks but my editing is done in Word and my proofreading in PDF now – much easier to spot and check things, I find.

      As to suspension of reality, that’s a whole nother world and anything fantastic needs very careful editing so as not to have the reader jolted out of the new world they’re in …

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carl D'Agostino

        November 30, 2016 at 8:07 pm

        Thanks for response. See, I learned something: proof read is one word. This is one reason I am grateful that I am a mere cartoonist not a real writer although I do one page humor from time to time. Still sensible to have your aunt or Earl down at the barbershop look for a possible spelling error in the punch line and make sure I drew five fingers on a hand not four or six.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Liz Dexter

          December 1, 2016 at 6:40 am

          Even the editor has an editor – I have someone check the text of my books before I put them out there!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Carl D'Agostino

    November 30, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    In reading more about this topic I asked myself “Why would anybody be so stupid to pay by the hour instead of page?” For example, I am from Miami and lemme tell ya it takes a lot
    longer to read a book during a hurricane(for obvious reasons) than during one of Miami’s normal afternoon torrential rains. The sound of gunshots in the evening there is also very distracting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liz Dexter

      December 1, 2016 at 6:39 am

      There are good reasons why some editors charge for their time and not the word count and that does allow for problems to arise and the time spent dealing with them to be compensated. In offering a per-word price, editors are also considering the time they will spend doing the work and some work back from a per-hour rate they need to achieve. In addition, industry standard rates are often published in per-hour terms. Personally, I prefer to give the client a fixed price up-front, which I can do when offering a per-word rate.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Zoe the Fabulous Feline

    November 30, 2016 at 8:23 pm

  6. Don Massenzio

    December 2, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog.


  7. The Owl Lady

    December 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Reblogged this on The Owl Lady.



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