What type of writing do you edit?
I copyedit both fiction and nonfiction, especially novels, short stories, creative nonfiction essays, and memoirs, but also articles, newsletters, presentations, reports, and other documents of various lengths and types. If you’re not sure about a project, please ask!
I provide developmental editing for book-length fiction.
Why do I need an editor? (I already examined my work, ran a spellcheck, and asked a friend to read it too.)
Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician and icon of modern medicine, famously observed, “A physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient.” It’s no stretch of the imagination to realize that writers who edit themselves are often blind to errors in their work. Yes, after setting aside your pages for a week or a month or a year, you will gain distance and perspective, which will allow you to detect some problem spots. Your mind, however, will inevitably remember and recognize the plot twists and turns of phrase that seemed so innovative the first time you wrote them. As Margaret Atwood said, “You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat.”
I bring not only a helpful detachment and a fresh perspective but also a plethora of knowledge that surpasses the writing guidelines and grammar rules taught in most English classes. I know the difference between an em-dash and en-dash, between “amend” and “emend.” I relish creating style sheets that chart choices made for spelling, capitalization, use of numbers, abbreviations, etc. Most importantly, I stand in for your intended audience (who will be less forgiving of info-dumping and garbled prose) and know how to repair writing before it goes to press.
Writing is nothing if not challenging. Besides, it’s hard to murder your darlings. Why not let an editor do the dirty work?
What do I receive from a copyedit?
- One or two thorough reads of your manuscript
- A style sheet listing choices for grammar, spelling (including character and place names), punctuation, and capitalization
- Edits marked in your document using Word’s Track Changes
- Comments throughout the document explaining changes and suggesting alternatives
- A free follow-up consultation by email or phone
What do I receive from a developmental edit of my fiction manuscript?
- A detailed editorial letter outlining the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript along with suggestions on how to improve the weak areas
- Detailed comments throughout your manuscript illustrating the points discussed in the editorial letter and any other items that need attention
- A list of characters and a timeline or chapter-by-chapter synopsis
- A free follow-up consultation by email or phone
How do I format my manuscript?
Use a standard 12-point type font, such as Times New Roman. Double-space the entire text and use 1” margins on all sides. Since I typically use the Track Changes feature to insert comments and mark suggested changes, please send your manuscript as a Microsoft Word document file (.doc or .docx).
If your nonfiction project requires a different format, please ask me about it. For example, for a business report, I have edited directly in PowerPoint.
Do you use a contract?
Yes. The industry standard contract/Letter of Agreement outlines the scope, pricing, and schedule of the work. It also includes legal information that protects both of us.
What style guides and reference books do you use?
My go-tos are The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, which are the industry standard references. Depending on the project, I may turn to The Oxford English Dictionary, The Associated Press Stylebook, or The MLA Handbook. One manuscript I edited had Scotland as its setting, so I also relied on Collins English Dictionary and Dictionary of the Scots Language.
Will you change my voice or style?
No! As a writer, I understand and value an author’s distinct voice and style. As an editor, even as I seek to help authors communicate clearly with their readers, I respect and strive to preserve the author’s voice and style. Although I identify potential problems and offer suggestions for solutions, you, the author, maintain control and may accept or reject any edits. By collaborating, we—the author and editor—work together to ensure readers enjoy the best possible prose—that they sail through an article, essay, story, or novel without getting snagged on a dangling modifier, or caught in an undertow of incoherent prose, or swept down into a plot hole. Like a captain and first mate, we endeavor to provide our prose passengers a worthwhile journey.
What about privacy and confidentiality?
Client documents and contact information remain confidential. All content—delivered to me for the editing project and, after final payment, any content created by me as part of the editing process—belongs to the client. Client testimonials, which may include the name of the client or project or project excerpts, are only used with prior permission. Similarly, the editor’s name may not be used on any listing, book cover, blurb, or other printed or published material without written permission from the editor.
Disclaimer: Although I aim to deliver a flawless manuscript, editing is an art, not a science, and editors, despite our penchant for perfection, are human. Should a stray typo or errant misspelling escape the editor’s eagle eye, I apologize in advance.
I highly recommend that writers have their manuscript edited on as many levels as possible prior to seeking publication. Alas, while a professional edit will polish one’s prose and enhance the readability of a manuscript, I cannot guarantee future sales, reviews, or the success of anyone’s manuscript.
Given our close collaboration and our shared desire to craft exemplary prose, I truly hope all my clients achieve their goals. If my editorial services satisfy or even exceed your expectations, please refer other writers to my services and website. Thank you!