Your manuscript is almost ready!
So your book is written and your being on this page suggests you realise the importance of a good and thorough independent review of your book before you think about publishing.
When you are writing your book, developing the plot and building your characters you can, of course, get too close to it. You know exactly why the hero disliked someone who turned out to be one of the bad guys but perhaps that really important point isn’t totally obvious to the reader? Maybe there’s an element of your plot or story or narrative that needs further explanation or it’s not quite in sync with the rest of the book.
In a non-fiction book the danger is that you know what you’re talking about but maybe not everyone else does. These are just a few examples where every newly written book needs a pair of fresh and, most importantly, independent eyes.
Most people writing for the first time will give their book to their friends to read and, whether they liked it or not, they’ll probably tell you it’s great; an editor will give you an honest opinion and if there are problems they will tell you; and, of course, you’ll be grateful. Share with me your manuscript and we’ll talk about the options for the editing I think you need, we’ll agree something to suit your budget and then I will make sure your manuscript is in the best possible shape.
Helping you choose the type of editing required for your book
In my view, all writers should hire a professional editor to go over their manuscript before they consider publishing and, whether they choose to work with me or not, my opinion won’t change! Even if your chosen route is self-publishing and you are not considering a submission to a literary agent or direct to a publisher, you still need an editor and I am here to help you get the best for your book.
Taking the time for this in your schedule and budgeting for it as part of becoming a published author is especially important for budding writers, so let’s look at what my editing service offers.
This is the simplest form of editing and is usually the cheapest. With even the most diligent author, when you’ve read your book so many times already, you start to learn what it’s supposed to say and so your brain can skip read and it will still make sense! Copy editing goes over things like spelling, punctuation, capitalization, essential syntax and facts and this is often the final touch to a manuscript after more heavy edits.
For fiction, a copy edit may include catching continuity errors as well. For example, your hero might have blue eyes on page ten but green eyes by page eighty! For non-fiction, your basic edit might check and flag potential factual errors. If you still have big issues in your book at this point, your copy editor should tell you but it’s not their job to fix them. If they catch them early enough in the book, they will probably recommend you have developmental or line edit done first and then return to the copy edit. That will always be my approach.
Line or content or stylistic editing
Line editing is a little more detailed than copy editing. If your manuscript has plot holes, limited characterization, factual errors or ‘overwriting’ problems, line editing is probably what you need for your book. It costs more than a basic edit, but a manuscript with structural errors won’t get past a literary agent or publisher if that is the desired route for your book.
A line edit will cover things like word choice, paragraph flow, smoothing out awkward or wordy sentences, eliminating repetition, catching clichés and other style issues. During a line edit, your editor will also point out areas where you need to clarify what you’ve written and suggest things like where your transitions over time or place are weak.
In essence, the purpose of line editing is to tie together the loose ends in your novel or memoir and to make sure that the story flows properly. For non-fiction, line editing will catch factual errors and will also help to separate chapters and paragraphs so that they make more sense.
Heavy / substantive or developmental editing
This type of edit involves the identifying the need to rearrange, delete, add and reword entire pages and chapters and sometimes crosses the bridge into being more of a ghostwriting service than an edit. Should your manuscript need this type of attention, I will work with you to determine your need for a rewrite or an edit. Essentially, with an edit, I will identify the work you need to do and leave it at that, for ghostwriting, I will make the changes on your behalf, which is, of course, the more expensive option.
It’s very important that you understand that a developmental edit is different to the copy or line edit in that the editor does not actually make changes to the book; they only provide you with a detailed understanding of where you need to make the changes. This isn’t an all-inclusive kind of edit and doesn’t involve correcting your punctuation and grammar or smoothing out awkward sentences as well. It’s about the broader issues of characterization, setting, plot, too much/not enough backstory, too much or too little description, dialogue, mixing POVs and making sure each scene has a clear goal and enough tension.
For a lot of first time writers, there is that moment when they finish the book and then wonder about it being good enough to publish. Do you just go ahead and get it launched or do you feel the need for some independent review first? Some people might well be very happy to write and self-publish their book and consider that their goal has been achieved and that sales are not important; but I might suggest that these people are very few and far between. Doesn’t every author want some recognition for all the efforts they put in to writing their book?
If you’re one of those people who see the need to have things checked out then you may well have already looked into getting an editor to look at your book but are unsure what type of editing you need. Of course, you hope that the answer is simply a proofread or a copy edit, but are you sure? Again, asking friends to read your book is all well and good but are they going to be totally honest with you? Do they have all the necessary skills to assess your manuscript in the way an independent professional would? Here’s where my assessment comes in.
I will review your manuscript to see what’s working and what could be improved and take a view on publishing potential as it currently stands. It’s all about honest feedback and looking at elements such as structure, writing style, dialogue and characters etc. As an author, you’re too close to your book to spot most problems, weaknesses and inconsistencies, but an assessment will help you address issues, further develop your book and get a better idea of its suitability for publication.
My role is not to criticise and knock an author’s confidence, but to offer constructive feedback. I will always be sensitive in my approach, but always honest since there’s no point commissioning an assessment unless you want the truth! I very much make a point of telling authors what’s good in their writing as well as where they can develop.
While accepting constructive feedback is difficult, it really will help you grow as a writer and therefore, I see an assessment as an essential element of the book development process. If your budget allows for this, I’d always recommend a manuscript assessment before moving from the writing to the editing phase.
When considering your editing needs, the most important thing is to talk to me first, tell me where you are with your manuscript and what you feel needs to be done and, of course, what your budget is. Yes I set out my fees for different edits, but the point to remember is that I’m always flexible. No two manuscripts are the same and my aim is always to give you the best value for money possible. So please get in touch with me, give me some initial indications of what you are looking for and some ideas for your budget and we’ll take it from there so contact me today!