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I want to publish my book but I’m confused! Do I need an editor, a line editor or a proofreader?

a hand writing in a bookI was recently writing back to a prospective client who had got very confused about the different types of editing and proofreading and the process needed for publishing their book. I sent them some resources from this blog and thought it might be useful to share those here, too.

So, here are some articles I’ve written about the different kinds of editing, the process of editing and proofreading (and where your beta readers fit in to that process) and how to make sure your editor and proofreader are, ahem, on the same page. At the bottom are two articles I’ve written about how to deal with an editor – that can feel like an alarming process in itself, so hopefully I’ll reassure you there!

This one talks about the different kinds of editing and proofreading (it’s biased towards fiction but also works for non-fiction):

https://libroediting.com/2014/05/22/do-i-need-editing-or-proofreading/

This one sets out the processes you go through and their order:

https://libroediting.com/2016/10/19/what-questions-should-i-ask-my-beta-readers/

It’s certainly best to have different people do the edit and final proofread, as it’s not great to have the same eyes going over and over a text (that’s why we can’t proofread our own work!). If you use two people for these stages, make sure your editor provides you with a style sheet to pass on to your proofreader – more on style sheets here:

https://libroediting.com/2016/01/14/what-is-a-style-sheet-for-people-using-editors/

And when you’re ready to talk to an editor (or proofreader), here are two articles explaining that side of the process, so you and your prospective editor can experience a smooth process and happy negotiation:

How to request a quotation from an editor:

https://libroediting.com/2016/11/30/working-with-an-editor-1-how-do-i-request-a-quote-from-an-editor-or-proofreader/

Ideas on negotiating and booking in your project:

https://libroediting.com/2016/12/07/working-with-an-editor-2-how-do-i-negotiate-with-an-editor-or-proofreader-and-book-my-project-in/

I hope you’ve found this very quick guide to dealing with the complexities of getting your book edited and proofread, and how to deal with contacting an editor, useful. If you have, please share this article using the buttons below, or leave me a comment. Thank you!
 
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Posted by on June 27, 2018 in Copyediting, proofreading, Writing

 

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What’s an acceptable error rate for an editor?

I have found this article from the marvellous industry journal copyediting.com considering acceptable error rates for editors extremely useful for sharing with clients and setting expectations. Although editors/proofreaders do tend to be perfectionists, we are human, and it’s good for us and our clients to remember this.

If a piece is full of errors, even a 99% accurate editor will leave some errors behind.

Read Adrienne Montgomerie’s article, “Error Rates in Copyediting” here.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2018 in Copyediting, proofreading

 

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What do I actually do? What do you actually do? Who does an editor or transcriber work for?

Taking a well-earned coffee break this week, my friend Jen challenged me to draw a Venn Diagram of what I actually do, for whom. I accepted the challenge.

Libroediting services venn diagram

Especially if you have a portfolio business, where you offer more than one service, can you draw out your customer base and services? How many attempts do you have to make (four for me!)? Can you see any patterns?

 

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Working with an editor 2: How do I negotiate with an editor or proofreader and book my project in? #amwriting

Working with an editor 2: How do I negotiate with an editor or proofreader and book my project in? #amwriting

This article follows on from Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote?, where I explained what an editor needs from a prospective client in order to give them a price and turnaround quotation. Now we’re going to look at where you go from there – what will the editor/proofreader send you, is it OK to ask for a sample edit, and how to proceed with negotiating and then – hopefully – booking an editor.

What does a quote from an editor include?

Your editor will usually quote you a price and a turnaround time. I work in a price per 1,000 words (different people do different things: I like my clients to know up front how much they’re going to pay) and will tell the prospect how much time I’ll take to do their work and when I can slot it into my schedule. So I might say something like “I can take on this project for £7.50 per 1,000 words, I’ll need 2 weeks to do the work and I would be able to start it on 1 May”.

Be assured that a good editor will have thought very carefully about the pricing before they send it to you. I try to be as fair as I can to myself and the author, basing my price on the amount of work that the edit will involve. This is why most editors and proofreaders will offer a “from” price on their website if they have a price at all, as that’s a guide to the least it will cost (for something involving a very minimal amount of editing). Some editors offer discounts for students or self-publishers, so make sure you’ve explained if you’re one of those categories.

How to negotiate with an editor

In my opinion, the negotiations should be about dates and turnaround times, and about what you want your editor to do, not about price. I don’t offer a high price so that I can be beaten down to my “real” price, and I don’t know anyone who does.

The price an editor offers you reflects …

  1. Their experience and training
  2. Their knowledge of your subject area or genre
  3. Their knowledge of English grammar, sentence structure
  4. Their ability to help you to express yourself in the best way possible, while retaining your unique voice and writing style
  5. Their knowledge of standard style sheets
  6. Their ability to match the style sheets of publishers, journals, etc.

But within the negotiation, it’s fine to, for example, ask for a sample edit, or ask if the work can be done in a shorter time period (this may involve an urgent fee but your editor will explain that).

Regarding time slots, it comes as a surprise to some people to discover that their editor / proofreader has other clients on the go. We have to keep booking in clients and rebooking regulars in order to have a constant stream of work and, basically, a continuous income. So if your editor really can’t start working with you until the week after next, there will be a good reason for that and they may not be able to move that commitment. However, do give them a chance and ask, just in case.

Is it OK to ask for a sample edit?

Some people are nervous about asking for a sample edit but most editors are happy to provide one. We usually limit it to about 1,000 words, which should show up any major issues that are going to come up in the job as a whole. I use Tracked Changes in word or marked-up PDF as appropriate, and I also send back a skeleton style sheet detailing the decisions I’ve made so far, so you can see how I work.

It’s a good idea to send your sample text from the middle of the work in question. You will typically have gone over and over the start of your manuscript, but not paid so much attention to later sections. A section from the middle will offer a truer representation of the level of editing needed.

Asking for quotations from more than one editor

It’s of course fine to do this, and good practice, as I would do when engaging a plumber. There are some other elements of good practice here, though:

  • It’s polite to let an editor know you have asked other people for quotes and may need time to make your decision
  • It’s not polite to play editors off against each other. Editing is quite a small world, and if you claim to Editor A that Editor B has offered a very low price, well, they might just know each other and check … Be honest and fair as you expect others to be fair to you
  • Let the editors know when you are going to make your choice
  • Let the unsuccessful editors know the result, as well as the successful one

This last point is really important. If I’m negotiating with a client on a job, I’ll be holding open a slot for that job for the time frame we’ve been discussing. It’s only fair to let me know if you don’t want to book my services, so I can accept another job in its place.

Choosing an editor or proofreader is a whole topic in itself. You need to feel comfortable with them and they need to work in your subject area or genre. You might think I’m great, but however lovely I am, I’m just not going to be able to edit your horror novel! It’s fine to look at references (a good editor will have references or testimonials on their website) and to discuss how they would approach your book. It needs to be a good fit from both sides. If I don’t think I’m a good fit for you, I will usually be able to recommend on someone who will be more useful, but an editor’s ability to do this does rely on the networks they’re in.

Booking in your editing or proofreading project

So, you’ve chosen your editor, you’ve told the ones you don’t want to use that you have no need of their services. Now you’ve got a slot and a price that you’ve accepted. These are the next stages:

  1. Signing a contract or accepting terms and conditions in writing – I ask people to do the latter, but will create a formal contract if one or other of us thinks it’s necessary. Make sure you read all the terms and conditions carefully and ask about any you’re not sure of.
  2. Maybe paying a deposit in advance if your editor requires it.
  3. Submitting your work.

Now, most editors and proofreaders understand that the date you think you’re going to have your work completed isn’t always the date you’ll have it completed. Even if you think you’re ready, something might come up. If you’re using the booking to force yourself to finish the job (and there’s nothing wrong with doing that in principle!) then something might come up.

The golden rule for me is: it’s fine if you get delayed, as long as you let me know.

If you’ve booked to send your work to your editor next Monday and it’s Friday and you’ve not finished, then let them know. Preferably let them know before that, so they can book another job into the space. Let them know when you think you’ll be ready, and update them. As I mentioned above, most editors have more than one job going on at the same time, so it should be possible for your editor to shuffle work around to leave your slot open in a week’s time, say. However, if you don’t let them know and don’t keep them informed, then suddenly expect them to edit 100,000 words for you with no notice and a month late, they simply might not have the time in their schedule to do that!

Don’t miss your slot: if you get delayed, let your editor know as soon as you can.

Negotiating and booking in with an editor or proofreader

This article has given you, the author or writer, some hints on negotiating with editors and getting your job booked in with them. Everyone works slightly differently, so I’ve tried to keep this as general as possible, and based it on my own practices.

If you’ve found this article useful, do please comment and share using the buttons below! Thank you!

Other useful articles on this website

Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote?

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?

 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in Copyediting, Ebooks, proofreading, Writing

 

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

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?

 

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

 

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How do I highlight the text related to my comment balloon in Word 2013 and 2016?

I have already published a range of posts on issues with comment boxes or comment balloons, including ones on comment boxes suddenly going tiny, or comment box text running in the wrong direction, changing the language in your comment balloons. This article covers how to highlight the text that a comment balloon relates to.

Why can’t I see which bit of text this comment balloon is about?

As a default in Word 2013 and Word 2016, you can see your text and you can see your comments, but you can’t see which bit of text the comment refers to. Why? I have no idea. Microsoft tends to try to make things look simpler, but personally, I don’t find it helpful. It looks like this …

1-default

… and what we want to see is this:

3-result

How do I highlight the text that’s being commented on?

You can change the settings to do this by going to the Review Tab and the Track Changes area. You will see a box marked Simple Markup. Click on the down arrow to the left to access the dropdown menu:

2-comments

Select All Markup.

Now the text that the comment is about will be highlighted when you’re looking at the document:

3-result

Don’t forget …

This only applies to your individual view of the document on your particular computer / screen. If your editor, client or co-writer wants to change this view, they’ll have to change it themselves. Send them here to see how it’s done!

If you have found this article helpful, please add a comment and/or share it using the buttons below. Thank you!

Other related posts on this blog

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Changing the language in your comment balloons

Customising your comment boxes – everything you need to know

Customising Track Changes

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2016 in proofreading, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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Can I edit what I am not? Editing outside your direct sphere of knowledge

DictionariesThis year so far, I’ve worked on, among other things, a book about Black history in the UK, incorporating a number of responses in prose, poetry and rap which reflected the spoken norms of inner city youth; a project about (very) experimental architecture; and a book giving advice to gay men on dating and relationships. I’ve transcribed interviews with bands I know nothing about, and I’ve localised texts about items I’m never going to use. As a straight, white woman who is not an experimental architect, doesn’t follow those bands and is unlikely to use a remote-controlled helicopter, should I have engaged with these texts where I was quite clearly the “Other” in the relationship or knew little about the topic? Or should I stick very closely to what I know?

I think it’s fine to edit and otherwise work on texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you’re flexible, keep the audience in mind, are willing to learn and keep an open mind. I also think that there are limits to what you can work on, and I’ll talk about that, too.

Why I think it’s OK to edit outside your direct experience

It’s my personal opinion that it’s OK to edit texts that are outside your direct experience, as long as you bear a few things in mind.

  • Be flexible. The language of an inner-city rap poet might not be the same as your own casual register, let alone the register you use for formal academic writing. Think about the conventions of what you’re working on, not your own preconceptions, go with the flow and keep things consistent and clear (which is the editor’s mantra anyway)
  • Be open-minded. The advice given in a dating book on apps for hooking up with people might be way beyond your comfort zone as a happily married, middle-aged woman, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and it’s wrong, or bad, it’s just different. Which leads on to …
  • Think of the audience. What will the readers of this book want? Is the relaxed style with all the I’d and should’ve contractions something that they will feel more comfortable with? Leave those in.
  • If you’ve got a good amount of life experience and a solid general knowledge, that will see you a long way into an unfamiliar topic.

Why I think it’s positively GOOD to edit outside your direct experience

The good editors I know are wise in knowing what they don’t know and seeking to expand their knowledge. They love to learn. What teaches you more than grubbing around in the very innards of a text on something you never even knew existed? There are other positives, too.

  • By approaching the text as the “Other” (while retaining a sensible approach to the privileges you might have as someone who is not usually the “other”), you might be able to suggest subtleties or pick up on attitudes that are going too far the other way. Maybe you can help reassure an author and their readers that people outside the core audience DO understand / empathise.
  • More importantly and commonly, the aim of all writing should be to be clear and express its author’s intentions clearly. So if you, as an outsider, don’t understand the text, maybe it does need to be simplified a little. If I don’t understand something on the second or third go, I’ll pop a comment in the margin that this might need to be clarified.
  • I think I have a tendency to edit better and more carefully when I’m working on something slightly unfamiliar. It’s like editing your own writing: if you really know the topic, you tend to see what you expect to read, and may skim over errors. I know I have this propensity, so I work extra hard on texts on known topics, and try not to enjoy the process too much at the expense of doing a good job!
  • You learn all sorts of things that might be useful in your everyday life, the next thing you edit, or even pub quizzes. Your next client will benefit from that extra knowledge (or maybe the one after that – I edited a load of texts on Agile working a few months ago, so can cheerfully say I know all about it when another prospective text comes in).

When I think it’s NOT good to edit outside your direct experience

There are some occasions when I do think a text is best left alone. Complete incomprehension of a technical topic or genre is not going to make for a good editing process. I pass those jobs along to a colleague (and get some co-opetition karma in the process). Examples in my own work of jobs I’ve turned down have included:

  • A book all about optimising your motor vehicle engine use, with lots of diagrams and examples. I know nothing about this, and there was little value I could add to something so technical.
  • A localisation job where I would have had to research European legislation on a topic I knew little about to start off with, and match it up to US legislation. That’s too dangerous to mess with.
  • Editing novels in genres I am not familiar with myself such as romance and science fiction – you do need to know your genres if a book is to be edited to fit into them. I’ve actually pretty well stopped working on fiction apart from the odd thriller for an on-going client, as they are pretty well all in genres where I know someone else will do a better job.
  • Specialised transcription – medical and legal in particular. I’ll cheerfully type about makeup I don’t wear or economic policy that can be checked easily, but I don’t go near the specialised terminology used in medical and legal transcription.

In summary … in my opinion, it’s good to stretch the boundaries of the areas you work on and to edit and otherwise work with texts on topics that are unfamiliar, unless the level of technical or specialist content is high enough that you are floundering and uncomprehending. In that case, there’s always someone who  knows more about the topic that you can pass it on to. Happy learning!

What are your thoughts on the subject?

 
 

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