(and a few things nobody asks)
These are the most Frequently Asked Questions that I get asked ahead of editing. I'll try not to get too geeky... But consider yourself forewarned!
WHAT DOES AN EDITOR DO?
Metonymy? Semantics? Tautology? Say what?
I know. I told you it was geeky. I spent several years studying language and have a Masters degree in linguistics. This stuff gets me going, I can tell you!
But I get it. It's not that cool. And it doesn't do it for everyone.
So I try to keep this sort of description (metonymy, semantics, tautology, yadda yadda) under wraps and talk to you in straightforward English words. You know, the kind we all want to read.
Suffice to say, while I'm editing your book draft, I'll put all that word mastery to use without boring the pants off you.
So, that's what I won't do? What I will do?
Make your book more readable.
Now, there are several levels of editing with different depths of scrutiny for each piece of writing.
Depending how far through your writing project you are, your writing experience, or the purpose of the document, you may choose a different depth of editing. And different editors provide different depth of editing, because they are different skills. Some of us provide more than one or overlapping types of editing.
Here's an idea of the main 5 types of editing that an editor may provide.
Substantially changing the text, usually to be used for a different purpose, for instance a webinar transcript turned into an ebook.
Developmental or structural editing
Taking an author through from start to finish and moving chapters around to hang together logically. I choose to not have anything to do with overall structure and I'll tell you why in a moment.
Making sure the ideas have integrity and nothing is missing or superfluous. Checking for clarity.
Making it read better and more accurately for your reader, while still sounding like you.
Making it strictly accurate.
ARE YOU A COPYWRITER?
In short, no. A copywriter writes for you. (Usually website pages, content and emails.) They have extensive marketing expertise to do this.
I am a copyeditor. A copyeditor takes what you have written yourself and makes it more awesome, or simply checks that it is awesome enough already.
This can be web copy, content and emails. Or it can be books, articles, magazines, documentation, reports, and so on.
I edit books.
Mostly (but not exclusively) books that will be self-published first.
Mostly (but not exclusively) for first-time authors who are also entrepreneurs or speakers.
I work with women who know their businesses inside out and want to retain the creative control of their writing.
Don't get me wrong. Copywriters (for websites) and ghostwriters (for books) can do some fantastic work. They'll make you look great on paper. And if they're really good, they'll help your sales pages convert better. Or your book be super schmick. (Totally a word.) It's much more about strategy and structuring. But it's not heart and soul. It's not you and your words that are being put out there.
If you want to write your own stuff, that's where an editor comes in. And mighty handy we are too.
WILL YOU DO A TEST EDIT?
No, I don't do individual test edits, because my schedule doesn't allow for that.
To be perfectly transparent, some people recommend only to work with editors who offer a test edit.
Here's my take on that...
Test edits do not make good business sense for editors.
If you're here, you're likely a business person yourself. I'm sure surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs with good business sense is on your priority list, especially when it comes to who you hire.
Firstly, giving a free sample that you have to repeat for each client is time-consuming. For me and for you. A good editor who is booked out 4 to 8 weeks in advance, like I am, has more savvy than to do that. I don't want you to waste your time either.
More importantly, doing a short sample doesn't do my editing expertise justice, because of the limitations of what may come up in a random sample of writing.
Not only that, my packages are two-stage and some important aspects of the editing process come last. These wouldn't show up in a test edit.
But I get it.
You want to know if I'll take good care of you and your voice.
Because your book is precious.
And working with an editor is a big decision and major investment.
You want to get this decision right.
That's why I offer samples of my work on my editing resources page.
If you head to the samples section of this page, you will see I have examples of heavier and lighter edits. These are real examples, used with permission from real clients.
They illustrate the exact kinds of comments and changes you can expect.
CAN'T I JUST GET MY FRIEND TO PROOFREAD MY WORK?
Well, I guess you could.
It would be okay to just get it proofread. But you're better than okay, right?
Hey listen, I don't know your friend's credentials. And a second pair of eyes is certainly better than none at all.
The thing is, though, editing is more than just being "good with words". A degree in English doesn't mean someone can proofread. And having good attention to detail doesn't mean someone can make it read well for your audience or identify a synonym that will have more impact.
Here are the sorts of things a professional editor does that your well-meaning helper will possibly overlook.
- Make sure the wording is appropriate for your target audience
- Check capitals, hyphens, spellings, grammar, words, definitions, acronyms, style choices are consistently used
- Check assumptions that you're making about the reader are consistently applied
- Make sure sentence length is right for the style and genre you are writing in
- Simplify and clarify concepts
- Choose better fitting words for the context
- Know when it's better to break the rules for the sake of better readability
- Transform flabby or passive writing into tight, relevant, succinct and active writing
- Apply digital self-publishing knowledge
And lots more besides.
It's not just making sure the commas are in the right place.
(Unless it is. In which case, get your friend to have a look for you.)
The best combination of all, of course, is to do both; to have your writing edited then proofread.
It's great to get as many pairs of eyes on it as possible before it goes out to your readership.
Every read-through will improve the piece. Just know when to stop tweaking and ship!
HOW LONG DOES EDITING TAKE?
Different editors work at various paces. Sometimes projects are strung out over several weeks or months. I prefer to focus solidly on one project at a time, rather than juggle several types of writing all at the same time. It helps me tune into the writer's language and message, which gives a far smoother, more consistent result.
You'll get an estimated turnaround when I provide a quotation for your work. As a guide, I aim to turnaround 25,000 words in a week in my complete two-review copyediting service.
CAN YOU TELL ME IF MY WRITING IS GOOD ENOUGH?
I can advise you as to whether the language of your digital content speaks to your audience. I can craft it into a piece that will not only look pro and polished, but will shine in comparison to all the other noise on the internet.
I also give my opinion on where there are gaps and point out repetition.
What I can't do is sell your book for you, make sure the right people are coming to your website in the first place, or make a piece good enough to read if I don't know your ideal reader.
To do that, you need to know your ideal reader and go out there and find her. Then test out your writing on her to see what she likes. When you know who's reading, we have something to work with. Then we go about making your copy as beautiful as it can be.