The editing process can be very confusing for people not familiar with it. I’ve written the answers to some of the most common questions I get. If your question is not addressed here, please contact me. I’m happy to help.

Q. Do I need an editor?

A. Yes. All serious writers need a good editor, even though they don’t think so. Editors lend an objective eye to help authors see their blind spots. They specialize in making the manuscript more attractive to the reader, while keeping publishers and saleability in mind. It’s important to put your absolute best foot forward with every piece of writing—mistakes can mean the difference between success and failure. Because publishers are in more demand now than ever, they are looking for well-written manuscripts and typically reject those that are riddled with errors. With major competition these days, publishers are looking for the best. Why would they want to spend their limited marketing dollars editing your book? I want your work to be the absolute best it can be the first time.

When you work on your writing projects, I know you invest an amazing amount of time and energy trying to put what is in your head down on paper in just the right way. You know the story or subject matter inside and out, and you know what you’re trying to communicate. To you, your writing makes perfect sense. You’ve proofread your work a hundred times and you’re absolutely sure there are no errors. That’s why you need an editor.

Editors uncover the blind spots. They ask tough questions to clarify a confusing concept, tighten up repetitive or wordy sections, and address errors you consistently make, like shifting tenses, passive voice, or structure issues. We also have a knack for catching those stray, sneaky errors that you can’t believe you missed.

If a book has been poorly edited, it interferes with the reading experience, meaning that the author has not done his or her job communicating effectively. Think of editing dollars as part of the cost of investment, similar to funds you would spend on cover design, illustrations, marketing, and other expenses. A well-edited piece is worth every penny.

Q. Will my manuscript retain my style and voice?
A. Yes. You decide what you want to say and how you want to say it. Unless you contract for an edit that includes rewriting, I will not rewrite anything. I may make suggestions, which you can choose to allow or not, but my job is to take your writing and perform the things you contracted me for.

Q. What's the difference between copyediting and content editing?

A. Simplified, copyediting is polishing the words on the page. This can be correcting subject/verb agreement, eliminating repetition, fixing spelling and grammar errors, cleaning up awkward phrasing, etc. Content editing is addressing the “bigger picture” of the book. In nonfiction, content editing addresses the clarity, completeness, consistency, and organization of the information being presented. And yes, in my humble opinion, every author should have both content and copyediting performed. Many times the client thinks they just want copyediting or proofreading, but when I start pointing out the structure issues in the book, they agree that they need the higher level of editing. I will be completely honest with you if you need or don’t need that level of service. Content editing makes sure that your content makes sense to the reader. That’s the important part, right?

Q. How do I know if you're the right editor for me?

A. I will be happy to show you samples of my work for other clients, or better yet, let me work on a chapter or two of yours! Then you can see the difference between what I offer, what another editor might offer, or what you can do yourself. Also, a sample edit of 3-5 pages of your manuscript helps me assess your strengths and challenges so I can determine the type of editing your manuscript requires. In return, it will give you an opportunity to get a feel for my editing style. This is the primary way I can estimate the fee for major editing projects and for you to feel good about what I’m adding to the project.

Q. If I wish to retain you as my editor, what's next?

A. For manuscripts: After you review my suggestions and comments on the sample edit, and you like what you see, then let’s discuss the level of editing needed. I’ll provide what I think is needed, you can choose to agree or disagree, then we’ll put together a cost estimate that makes both of us happy. A cost estimate takes into consideration your budget, timing, and condition of the manuscript. Once we both agree with the terms, I will initiate a contract expressing our arrangement. I will email a copy of the contract, and will send via mail two signed copies of the contract that state both parties’ obligations. You will sign one copy and send it back to me along with your advanced payment, check, cash, or EFT (usually just a portion of the total cost as a deposit). The other copy will be for your records. Additionally, you’ll email a copy of your manuscript to me in a Word document. I’m really sorry, but I can’t begin on your manuscript until the deposit payment is received (and has cleared my account).

Q. What are the methods of payment, and when will my payment be due?

A. Payments can be made via cash, personal check, or EFT. A 50% deposit is required before work on major projects can begin. For major projects that are lengthy in scope, I will bill the deposit at the beginning, and subsequent billings throughout the project as we agree.

Q. I want to self-publish an e-book. Will you handle this for me?

A. I can absolutely help you get your manuscript ready for e-book publishing. But while I hope to be able to offer all e-book publishing services to my clients someday, at this point my role ends before the point of converting it to a digital book. I have numerous connections with other professionals who can put you in touch with.

Q. Since I’m not self-publishing, my commercial publisher will do the editing—right?

A. That’s true to a certain extent; however, unless you already have a book contract, your manuscript will need to be as error-free as possible if you want to attract their attention. Agents and publishers receive thousands of manuscripts each year. If they receive two with equally compelling stories and one contains grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes while the other is error-free, which one do you think they’ll accept? Don’t risk it! And don’t cheat yourself by pinching pennies to bypass a professional edit. You are worth it and your project is worth it.

Q. Okay, you’ve convinced me I need an editor. Can I pay you after I start making money on my book? Will you agree to part of the royalties as payment?

A. Unfortunately, no. I have to eat and pay my bills too! You wouldn’t ask your doctor to wait until you start feeling better before you pay him or her, would you? If you want your work to be taken seriously, consider the cost of editing as an investment in your writing success, just like any business investment you would make. I offer a service that will help you make your end product better.

Q. How should I send the document?

A. Documents can be transferred using email, dropbox, or any other cloud-based, file-sharing service.

Q. Can I see the editing changes, or comments about my writing style?

A. Yes. I use Track Changes in MS Word, plus I will send you a document outlining the major comments and changes, writing tips, or needs for clarification. See Track Changes Helps in the Resources section.

Q. Can I have a document edited on an urgent basis?

A. Yes, if my schedule allows and if the price is right! Let’s talk!

Q. Can you guarantee that a publisher or an agent will accept my book?

A. Unfortunately, I can’t make any guarantees about the saleability or marketability of the edited manuscript. I will, however, give you my very best effort to help get your book taken seriously.

Q. Can you guarantee there will be absolutely no errors?

A. I will sure try, believe me. It might help to understand that a typical book in a publishing house goes through 4-5 editors. I am only one person and you can bet that I will review your work numerous times before it is considered “final.” If in one of the phases you notice an error, please call it to my attention. The more eyes we have on it, the better. While I may miss an error, know that I will do my absolute best to produce a 100% error-free document, though I know of no editor who makes that promise. They’d be crazy!