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Editing

Proof-reading

A straightforward look for

spelling and grammar mistakes.

Bespoke or ‘other’

Mentoring comes under this

category; you may meet with an

editor a number of times as they

help you on your writing journey,

either in person or by phone. If

English isn’t your first language,

you may want an editor to turn

your text into something that

sounds more natural. You might

have specific concerns about your

writing (structure, plot, character)

and an editor can help you with a

particular area.

If you’re happy with how your

text is and you don’t want to

change anything about it, then

copy editing or proof-reading is

the service you’re looking for. If

you’re looking for advice on your

writing, or you plan to change

your text substantially, don’t shell

out for a line-by-line edit at this

stage, as it’s rather like icing a

cake that you’re going to have to

reconstruct.

Editors will not rewrite your work.

Each author’s style is unique and a

good editor is merely bringing

that style out.

When considering which editorial

services you’re after, think about

how much advice you are willing

to accept. Your book is your baby

and sometimes it can feel like

you’ve paid a stranger to point

out how ugly it is! Remember that

a professional editor has no

agenda other than helping you.

They’re not a friend or relative

who wants to flatter you – or slap

you down. It’s not comfortable to

have your flaws pointed out, but

it’s like medicine – it’s for your

own good.

Unlike medicine, though, you can

choose to take on board as much

or as little of what your editor is

suggesting. You are the author

and their suggestions are just that.

Think about why they are making

those suggestions, though.

If they think the main character is

weak and suggest a way of

building him up, you don’t have to

change the text in that way – but

the information you need to take

forward is that they have found

that character weak, and it’s up to

you to change that if you want

your book to be the best it can be.

 

WHO DO YOU TAKE ON AS

YOUR EDITOR?

It really is a case of finding

someone you’re comfortable with.

They should state their credentials,

what their experience is, how they

work and what they charge.

Make sure you know what service

they are offering and that there

aren’t hidden charges.

Editors can be expensive, but there are ways of reducing the cost. Above all, work out what service you want. If you’re not sure if your work is ready for acopy edit or proof-read, considerasking an editor to look at the first three chapters and a synopsis.

They should be able to give you a

good idea of where you’re at and

it won’t be as expensive as them

looking at the whole manuscript.

Charges are almost always based

on word count (not page count, as

the number of words on a page

can vary enormously!) so if you’re

planning on cutting out a third of

your text, do that before you send

your work in to be edited – you’ll

save yourself a third of the cost.

If you know you write in sloppy

manner but intend to check

spelling and so on later, do it

before you send your work in to

be edited. Sometimes authors tell

me, ‘I know how to use an

apostrophe! I just hadn’t changed

that in my text yet.’ I won’t know

whether you know and haven’t

bothered changing it, or whether

it’s something you don’t know

(many authors don’t).

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