The art of editing – Professional editing services part 2 – 5 of 7

There are many more want-to-be writers out there than good editors – Stephen Ambrose

Last week I looked at the different types of editorial services that you can pay for, this week I want to talk to you about the type of services you can expect from each of them and where to find information about how much it is reasonable to pay. Finally, I’ll touch on the sticky subject of why writers may struggle with finding and working successfully with an editor.

To recap from last week: developmental editing looks at the big picture; copy editing checks the internal workings to get it ready for a publisher or printer; and proof reading checks that the copy editing changes have been done correctly and also checks for any typographical errors.

It’s really important that you understand the differences in what the three roles do so that when you are deciding how to spend your budget you properly allocate it. When you are starting out there will probably be a limited pot of money available and you need to make some tough choices:

  • A proofreader will cost you the least – tens of pounds an hour – but provides the most limited service. Never discount proofreading though, your reader will not thank you for a book full of spelling mistakes and layout errors. I’ve recently received a published e-book that is so full of mistakes I’ve given up after only 8%. It was free on the basis that I would write a review; I’d have wanted a refund if I’d paid for it.
  •  The best development editing can cost hundreds of pounds but vastly improve your book’s chances of success.  However, don’t expect to get a full mark-up of typographical errors as part of the development service.

You need to carefully balance the cost of using a development editor, and potentially taking your manuscript to a new level with the higher sales that could generate, with the fact that the self-published book marketplace is pretty saturated right now so sales growth is likely to be a slow process and it could be years before you can recoup your initial outlay. In the long-term it could well be worth it, only you can judge.

Two website that I’ve found particularly useful for advice on the latest rates likely to be charged for work are:

Read the information shown carefully. The rates per hour look similar but the actual volume of work done in an hour varies considerably and so the total cost will be very different.

And now to touch on the elephant in the room. I totally agree with my quote this week. There aren’t as many good editors as there are writers – there’s a certain mindset that you need to have as an editor. A certain level of detail orientation, pickiness and fussiness, if you like, that not everybody has or wants to have. But to take the other meaning of the quote, by no means are all of the editors out there what I would think of as a ‘good’ editor to work with.

The role of the professional editor is not to change your book in ways that you don’t like or agree with. Editorial services are help and advice. There’s a point at which it would be pretty odd not to listen to a proof reader tell you that something is misspelt or that there are errors in layout but, even with grammar, you make the final decision to accept or reject any change. One caveat, if you are working with a publishing house they will in all probability expect more control, but in self-publishing you are ruler of your work.

I have worked with a regrettable number of ‘editors’ of both my fiction and non-fiction writing who seem to feel that they take ownership of your work when you send it to them. It’s not true and I don’t stand for it.

Listen and read their comments with an open mind, judge carefully and honestly if what is being suggested is improving what you wrote without changing it for change’s sake. Then decide yes or no and move on. In my experience, if an editor won’t accept this then they aren’t going to be good to work with.

As an aside, and putting on my editor’s hat here for a moment, do bear in mind that it can be difficult for the editor too if they strongly believe their suggestion is a good one that will improve your manuscript. But a firm and polite rejection will be accepted and they will move on.

Over time, once you’ve found the editor for you, you’ll learn how best to work together but expect some bumps at the beginning.

Having looked at what you should expect from professional editorial services and how they can help you, next week I want to look at some of the other ways in which you can get feedback and advice. I’m going to talk about beta-readers and reviewers and how they can be a great source of help when editing your novel.

To your book’s success!


Tags: , , ,

Leave A Reply (No comments so far)

No comments yet

Grab your FREE copy 

- How to overcome your fears, take the plunge and write your first book!

We respect your email privacy