Editors…Some think of them as blessings sent to aid weary writers, while others perceive them to be simply unavoidable. One fact remains…each is a necessary cog in the literary machine. No matter what a writer’s focus and/or genre, each writer needs his or her work edited and proofread before it is acceptable for public consumption.
First, one must evaluate his or her own weaknesses and strengths. This will enable a writer to be familiar with her or his exact needs from an editing and/or proofreading standpoint. Once pinpointed, a writer should be able to convey direct and clear wishes to an editor. It is highly important for a writer to know exactly what he or she wants, and needs, being particularly clear in conveying that information to avoid misunderstandings.
Sometimes the smallest additions or changes can make a huge difference. That said, what should a writer look for in an editor? What are the differences between the types of editing? More to the point, what is an acceptable rate to pay for those services?
When looking for an editor, one must consider many factors. Amongst these factors are whether a written contract is available to protect both parties or is a verbal contract the only offering, are references within the literary field available and verifiable; and finally, can the writer and the editor work together well. Are their focuses and perception of direction the same and the personalities a good fit? If looking at editors online, the mass of offerings can be overwhelming. One way to gain formal knowledge of an editor is to request, and send no more than five pages to the editor for, a sample editing. This may not be necessary as many editing professionals show an editing sample on the company website.
Gauging an editor’s pricing is difficult. There are as many different prices in the editing field as there are writers needing editors. Prices range anywhere from $2 to $15 a page. Some editors charge as much as $0.25 to $0.70 a word. This is one of the reasons a writer must know exactly what editing help is needed to make his, or her, work publication acceptable. Paying more does not mean better services and paying less does not always constitute a good deal. Editors must be judged by work ethic and action alone.
There are several types of editing. Each is designed to correct errors within a work and hone said work to a polished example of literary experience. The problem is, if one chooses an editor that does not cover all the steps needed to pull out a work’s full potential, and then an opportunity is lost.
One thing writers must be aware of is that some editors look at the task of Developmental Editing as being similar to ghost writing. Such an Editor may change a work to the point that an author is hard pressed to find his or her own work beneath the changes the editor has superimposed upon the offering. Above all, it is an editor’s job to help an author improve her or his own work, not to rewrite the piece or overshadow the original work in a way.
Developmental, Heavy, Substantive, or Content Editing is, in many ways, the most intense form of editing. This form of editing is the first step in the editing process. It may start even before pages are written. In Developmental Editing the editor may work with an author on improving concept, peruse a rough draft for content, detail, and fact, flow, and development issues. Organization of the work is also reviewed. This is performed by marking a print copy of the manuscript, or an electronic copy through the “track changes” and “comment” option in Microsoft Word or other word-processing programs.
Some writers will believe the work to be hemorrhaging if an editor favors red ink. Be assured, it is all part of the process. Most editors have nothing but the author’s best interest at heart. It all amounts to good business practices. If a client is put off by a verbally abusive or harsh attitude, that client will leave said editor and spread the news far and wide. This is the check and balance system of the service industry.
Once a story, article, or manuscript runs through developmental editing, the next step is Copy Editing. Copy Editing entails checks for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, as well as noting adjustments needed to sentence and paragraph structure. Facts will be verified and crosschecked to ensure consistency; and any style, or format, inconsistencies will be made uniform according to style guidelines imposed by the publisher. If copyrighted materials are used, copyediting will check for the appropriate permissions needed to avoid legality disputes.
Though some editors do perform typesetting services, this is not always the case. This service pertains to a limited market, as most magazine and publishing firms will maintain typesetting professionals familiar with their particular standards. Typesetting is concerned strictly with the printing process and how a work adapts to the needed confines of the produced page. A work will be set to the conformed page limits; the industry standard is a strict 250 words per page, and restrictions through a computer program such as Xpress, InDesign, or TruTex. Once a manuscript is set according to the software specifications, it is printed and ready for the final step in the editing process.
Proofreading is the final step in the editing process and the last stop before publication. At this point little to no changes can be made other than fixing minor errors. Typos, and any other errors and inconsistencies missed by previous edits or typesetting are fixed. No extra material may be added to the work at this point. Once a final draft is proofed and finalized, it goes straight to the presses and then on to distribution.
Now that the work is in distribution, the cycle starts over on the next offering presented. Remembering all the editing steps is a great deal to handle, but keeping one’s eyes open and mind focused on the end product will make the process much easier. Take time to fully interpret, understand, and remember each revision on the first work presented for editing and others will have less need of changes. Though no one can promise a publisher will accept a work, working with one’s editor to produce a polished literary offering will make both author and editor happy in the end.
For information on C.M.’s editing services, and book reviews, please visit her blog at: http://cmtruxler.wordpress.com/proofing-and-editing-services/