The writing of a novel may be the product of years of toil; of late nights at a glowing screen after your children have gone to bed; of lonely mornings with your notebook and pencil and only a slowly cooling cup of coffee for company; of manic getting-up in the middle of the night to scribble down an idea that’s just landed in your subconscious – all and more of these. The result is the product of your imagination – delivered as bubbling creativity, or squeezed, kicking and screaming, from your inner psyche. Or indeed many other things, as referenced by the ways writers have written about their art over the centuries.
You are now so close to your creation that you are desperate to share it with the world. This is the point when only a fresh pair of eyes can help you get your book into shape, ready for you to submit it to an agent for traditional publishing, or for you to take the step so many authors are taking nowadays – self-publishing.
There are several stages involved in the editing process, although not every author will need to use all of them. Often I will be approached by an author for proofreading, when what they really want – or need – is line-editing. For a summary of the different stages please click here, but in brief the services I offer are:
- Proofreading – the final stage before publication. Corrects typos, spelling, layout, pagination etc
- Line-editing or copy-editing – this is the process by which text is prepared for publication. It involves a word by word thorough reading in order to correct issues with grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, repetition, tense, style, flow, word or phrase overuse, and appropriate vocabulary. I usually suggest a two-stage edit (where having made the suggested amendments, the MS is returned to me for a second-stage edit), because developmental issues can arise even in a line/copy-edit
- Substantive editing – the most in-depth service I offer, which also deals as a matter of course with some of the above issues, and is often used for a work in progress. I will examine the MS and look at the big picture, suggesting (or making) revisions that improve the book as a whole. In a novel, for example, I will draw attention to structural issues, plot holes, unconvincing characterisation, clumsy writing and bad pacing. Chapters, paragraphs and/or sentences may need to be moved around, deleted, added or rewritten. I may rewrite/rework the manuscript myself (with the author’s agreement), or make suggestions for the author to rework the MS. For this service I will always suggest a two-stage process, where, having made the suggested amendments, the MS is returned to me for a second-stage edit
- Manuscript assessment – another useful tool for a work in progress, but a more economic option than a developmental edit. I will read the entire manuscript (perhaps making the odd on-screen comment, but otherwise not editing the text, except perhaps for small sections as examples). I will then prepare an editorial letter of two to perhaps twenty pages, dealing with the strengths and weaknesses of the MS (plot, characterisation, point of view, etc.) with suggestions
- For copy writing, please visit the website of my sister business Words Into Motion
My charges vary according to the complexity of the project, and it would be virtually impossible to give even a ball-park figure here. However, my charges are in line with SfEP guidelines which are given as an hourly rate. I can also quote per one thousand words (except for MS assessments), which can be easier to visualise, and on this basis the fee will vary from £10 to £16 per thousand words depending on the level of editing and number of passes required (expect to pay more for a substantive/developmental edit). I always ask for a 50% deposit. My fee (assuming the project is delivered to me as a Word file) covers:
- The work agreed, as either one or two stages of editing, or as an editorial letter
- Your work returned to you in three Word files, one with all Track Changes and comments showing, one with all changes accepted but comments still showing, and one ‘clean’ copy. Some authors do not need the clean copy
- A comment/query/style sheet, where I will elaborate on any comments annotated to the manuscript, add any queries or suggestions for you to follow up on, and any particular points of style which will be useful for your publisher, and for you if (for example) there’s going to be a sequel
- A follow-up email
If you would like a further edit following any revisions you make (in addition to the second-stage edit, if appropriate) then a further fee will be negotiated.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss your requirements. I would be happy to do a sample edit and return it to you with my quote (maximum 1,000 words – but feel free to send me more to read!).