“We edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”
– Arthur Plotnik
What can I expect from the general process of editing?
After we agree to the terms and conditions, I will send you a Customer Agreement form that will detail the timeline, service, and payment. After I receive a 50% required deposit, I will start editing immediately.
I use Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature. After you receive my edits, you will also use the Track Changes feature to accept or reject the changes and suggestions I made. You may email me at any time if you have questions or concerns about my suggestions and revisions. Depending on the stage of your project’s completion, you will need to invest more hours revising the content and mechanics of your document. If the document has undergone a copyedit or a substantive edit, your job isn’t done yet. You may need another thorough edit, depending on the quality of the original, but you will undoubtedly need to proofread the document before print to ensure its perfection at least one more time. I am happy to do the proofread if you wish. Yes, it will take extra time, but it’s time well-invested to ensure your credibility and mine.
I have a direct, honest style. My job description ensures I will correct your mechanics, question your word choices, and ask for more tension or fewer adverbs. It is my job. Your job is to trust that I know how to distinguish each author’s voice and customize my comments, critiques, and questions to enhance the credibility and accuracy of that voice. I won’t transform an erudite voice into a layman's. I won't thoughtlessly or robotically adhere to a style book; I know how to take into account narrative style, characterization, emphasis, and dialect.
Why should I hire a copyeditor?
Why do Olympic athletes still have coaches? No matter if your writing talent has won a Pulitzer Prize or never been printed, you need objective, professional eyes that can laser into your quirks, bad habits, and subconscious patterns. Even the best in their craft invest in personal growth.
As much as you love your dear friends and family, trust me, they won't catch a fraction of the problems a trained eye will catch. Their thrill in your authorial pursuits will likely override their desire to joyfully mark every comma splice, incorrect word, point of view switch, and extra period that will hang over your head like a guillotine when the item goes to publication.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Why invest your time, money, and energy into a project unless you're 110% invested in its outcome? Invest in a copyeditor. Invest in a designer. Invest in a videographer. Invest in yourself. And just think - when you hold that book or magazine in your hands, its pages still warm with freshly printed ink, the errors and oversights remain. If you put in 110% effort, the prideful feeling will be worth the extra 10%.
Fewer errors and less haze improve readability. Increased readability means the reader can relax and absorb the story and its message, not read defensively in fear of another misuse of "to." As heartbreaking as it may sound to an author, readers don't like the disappointing reminder that a real person wrote the story because it hinders their ability to suspend their disbelief. More errors equals more reminders that it's not a "real" story. Hiring a copyeditor will substantially improve the readability and "feeling" of your piece.
If you've never hired a copyeditor, do it for the sake of experience and fun. How will you know you don't "need" a copyeditor unless you know what a copyeditor can show you?
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Do you work with other editors?
No. I'm the lone editor. I will not subcontract out any part of the editing job, and I will individualize my work to meet your personal needs.
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Will you change my style?
No. I edit to suit each author's goal and voice and more specifically, to maintain the credibility of the characters in the novel.
If two college-aged characters are making love in a story, the entire plot leading up to a heated exchange of feelings, and you describe the man "depositing" the woman on the bed, am I going to skip over the funky deposited since it's technically correct? Absolutely not. I will tell you that using deposit makes the situation sound boring, mechanical, trite, and completely robotic. But I won't change the word. I will merely suggest that you do and explain my reasoning.
Are fragments "wrong?" Well, to a degree, yes. I may change a fragment into a complete sentence, but only if that fragment confuses me or sounds incomplete. Fragments can be a beautiful strategy to use for emphasis. For punch. I won't necessarily pick up my teacher's pen and slash it with a red mark and write "frag" unless the fragment doesn't work. If you have a crass tone and that's your tone of choice, I will edit the piece accordingly.
The bottom line is copyediting combines art and science. Yes, oftentimes I scientifically follow a grammar book and copyedit according to the rules. But I love breaking the rules for effect, style, emphasis, and tone. But if you only wanted a mechanical analysis of right and wrong, you could submit your piece to a computer to edit. Computers don't see the gray area, they don't hear tone, and they only see the trees, not the whole forest.