What they are and which you should choose
Before I get into the editing services I offer and what their differences are, allow me to introduce my favourite analogy. I’d like you to imagine that your manuscript is like a cake, and you’re the chef. You have decided the type of cake you’d like to bake, you have your ingredients in order, you’ve mixed them together, baked them and decorated your creation. The result (like with all of my actual baking projects) is often different to the one you imagined when you set out – and that’s fine! It is rare that something comes out of our heads and into the real world exactly as we want it to, and that’s why editors exist. I’d like you to see me as a knowledgeable baker, who has seen hundreds of cakes being prepared over the course of her career and knows what’s what. I can look at your hard work and say, ‘Ah, this is working brilliantly – and here’s where we might be able to improve.’
During developmental editing, an editor takes a big-picture view. The building blocks of your story are inspected to figure out what’s working and what needs adjustment. As an editor, I will look at essential components of the story, like your plot (is it pacy? Is enough happening? Do the events move the story forward?), your characters (do they have depth? Will the reader be rooting for them?) and your structure (is there a clear beginning, middle and end? Do things happen when they’re most impactful?). Developmental editing won’t address mechanical errors, like syntax, spelling or grammar.
As the knowledgeable baker, during developmental editing I am looking at the quantity and quality of your raw ingredients to see where they might be improved to get a better final result.
Who it’s right for
Developmental editing is involved, in-depth editing that comes before copy editing and proofreading. It isn’t about ironing out the tiny details, like spelling and grammar, but improving the story as a whole. Whether or not you need this level of input depends on how you feel your story is working – if you have problems you aren’t sure how to fix, or something just isn’t working, developmental editing is a good first step to get the big picture in shape.
What you’ll get
I will go through your manuscript and create an in-depth editorial report, detailing the issues and areas for improvement I have found, as well as suggestions for how to address them. I will also leave comments throughout your manuscript, providing further detail on the points listed in the editorial report.
Two documents will be returned to you: the editorial report and your annotated manuscript.
Price: £13.50 per 1,000 words
Copy editing takes place at the sentence level. It concerns itself with the mechanics of your writing – your tone, sentence structure and word choice – and catches inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your text. Copy editing also involves correcting spelling and grammar where errors are found. It doesn’t involve addressing any big picture issues, like characterisation or plot.
In my role as knowledgeable baker, during copy editing I am looking at the texture and taste of your cake. Is the consistency right? Do you have nice, even layers? Are the unique flavours you have put together coming across as well as they could?
Who it’s for
If you are happy with the structure of your novel, or have already undergone a developmental edit, copy editing might be the appropriate next step. Authors with a smaller budget will often choose a copy edit over a proofread (budget allowing) as it also addresses any spelling or grammatical errors.
What you’ll get
I will directly edit your manuscript, making changes where they are needed. I will do this using tracked changes, so that you can see exactly what I have done and can make the final decision about which changes you accept and which you do not. I will also add comments throughout where I have queries or suggestions for improvement.
One document will be returned to you: your annotated and corrected manuscript.
Price: £10.50 per 1,000 words
If you’ll excuse me for mixing my analogies, a good proofread is like a sieve – it catches the smallest grammatical and spelling errors. It’s the least involved of all the stages of editing, with its focus being solely on creating as clean a final draft as possible. Despite your best efforts, as an author you are often so close to the manuscript that you don’t see errors – a proofread will pick these up.
As the knowledgeable baker, during the proofreading process I am coming in with my expert tools and fixing the tiny imperfections in the decoration of your cake. It’s detailed work, a series of minuscule corrections that alone might not seem like much, but it makes all the difference in the final result.
Who it’s for
Proofreading is often the final frontier between the author and the reader. If you are satisfied with your story (developmental editing) and your overall tone, voice, accuracy and consistency (copy editing) a proofread is a great final step. It can be done standalone by authors on a budget – in fact, I would argue that in most cases, a proofread is the bare minimum that any author with an editing budget should invest in.
What you’ll get
I will directly correct your manuscript, locating and amending any grammatical or spelling errors. As always, this will be done with tracked changes turned on, so you know exactly what I’ve changed and where.
One document will be returned to you: your corrected manuscript.
Price: £7.50 per 1,000 words
A couple of extra notes:
Some authors put their manuscript through three or more rounds of editing, beginning with developmental editing and ending with a final proofread. This isn’t something that everybody’s budget can stretch to, and not doing this does not necessarily mean that your final draft won’t be in good shape. The key is to select the type of editing you undertake carefully, targeting what most needs addressing. If you’re not sure, get in touch – I can take a look at your manuscript and offer some advice for next steps.
Some authors request that copy editing and proofreading be undertaken at the same time. I don’t offer this service because I am of the view that these two services should be separate. An editor who is concentrating on your consistency and sentence structure is bound, somewhere, to miss something a finer proofread would have picked up – and vice versa. Traditional publishers put all of their manuscripts through a copy edit and then a final proofread, and these are always done separately.
Contact me here or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org