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Ready for an editor?

book editing Oct 09, 2023

So, you’re thinking about hiring an editor? Or maybe you’re just curious about what editing entails. Or perhaps you need some guidance on which type of editing/editor to look for. Well, for the purposes of this post, I’ll be focusing on what to expect from a freelance editor, rather than an editor who is established within a publishing house.

 

To begin with, what even is editing?

Let’s break it down. Essentially, editing is the process whereby someone else (an editor) combs through your work and suggests and/or makes improvements to get your manuscript ready for publishing. Whether that be improvements to plot, structure, pacing, style, grammar, spelling, or readability is entirely up to the type of editing and to some extent, the editor.

 

Ok, then what are the different types of editing?

I’m going to outline three main categories of editing, but depending on who you ask, there may be more.

 

Developmental editing

First up, Developmental Editing, also sometimes referred to as Substantive Editing. Developmental Editing takes place while your story is still experiencing “growing pains,” before you’ve finalised all the details. A developmental editor will help you with plot development, character development and characterization, pacing, themes, world-building, and appealing to target audiences.

They may also reorganise the sequence of events to create a smoother storyline. And they will help you with revision, such as cutting out unnecessary material, the expansion of important material, and making any other necessary changes within the scope of Developmental Editing.

 

Line editing

Second, Line Editing, also sometimes referred to as Stylistic Editing. Line Editing can take place once you’ve got a semi-polished first-draft to offer your editor.

 

 

It focuses on improving the clarity and flow of your paragraphs and sentences, and can involve removing jargon, clichés, and euphemisms, establishing and maintaining the style and level of language for the intended audience, medium, and intention, altering the lengths of paragraphs and lines, and establishing and maintaining tone, mood, and authorial voice.

 

Copy editing

And finally our third and (for the purposes of this post) last option, Copy Editing. The final stage of editing. During this last pass of your draft before it gets sent off to a proof-reader, the editor will focus in on grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, checking for consistency and continuity (for example with character names and relationships), ensuring readability and clarity, and finally ensuring consistency with your local language requirements (for example UK vs US vs Canadian English.)

 

 

Budget

Now that you’ve had an overview of different types of editing, let’s talk cost.

A good place to check the current median rates for different types of editing is the Editorial Freelancers Association. They outline a pretty decent standard rate for each type of editing and give you an average rate per hour, per word, and even the median pace of work.

For example, the median rate given for Copy Editing fiction is anywhere from $36-$40/hour or $.02-$.029/word, with a median pace of 7-10 pages per hour. So, this can also give you a good idea of roughly how long it might take to get through your manuscript (not accounting for the editor’s schedule and any potential deadlines.) Keep in mind that these rates are based on US pricing.

 

Resources

If you would like more in-depth information on the different types of editing, Editors Canada lays out some information on professional editorial standards for the different categories on their website here. It is also important to note that most projects go through multiple rounds of editing of different kinds, and that you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to over $1000 depending on the length of your manuscript and the experience level of your editor.

Some closing remarks: a good editor will communicate with you clearly and with compassion. They will also likely ask you questions about your work, either for clarification or to propose changes. They will almost definitely refer back to a style guide (like Chicago, or a personalised guide for your book) as they are editing your work.

They will most often have a professional program that they use for their editing (for example many editors I know use MS Word and the track changes feature.) And lastly, they should be invested in your success. Even if your book doesn’t become a best-seller, they should believe in the potential of your ideas and your story.

Don’t know where to begin looking, or just want to find out more? Head over to The Plottery website to check out the editing services offered there - and guess what? All three of the categories I described are available as options!

In the meantime, I encourage you to do your own research on the subject, and especially into finding the right editor for you. Not everyone will be a perfect match, but with a little bit of effort, luck, and perseverance (and 💰💰💰) I know you will be able to find the right fit.

And don’t be afraid to interview your editor! Most editors offer a free consultation where you can chat about your story and figure out what it is exactly that you’re looking for in an editor, and these consults are the perfect opportunity to feel out whether or not you’ll be a good fit for one another. And if you’re still not sure, many editors also offer free sample edits where they will work on a small portion of your manuscript and send it back to you with feedback.

Delving into the world of editing can seem intimidating at first, but I promise that once you find your editor, it will all start coming together. Congratulations on beginning the journey!

 

Love,

Jules ❤️

 


Jules
Written for The Plottery

Jules (she/they) is a queer, nonbinary, neurodivergent writer and aspirant book dragon who has been in love with writing since they were six years old. They are just as likely to wax poetic about philosophy or comedy specials, and they dream of someday escaping to a cabin where they can entertain their imagination, surround themselves with books, and hopefully gaze dramatically into the rain from a cosy window seat. They have their own blog chaoticallyinclined namely @jules.m.sherwood on Instagram. 

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