On Editing

“Editing” can run the gamut from proofreading a finished manuscript right before it goes to print to substantially altering the form and even content of a piece. So when I talk about editing, what kind do I mean?

The terms I use here I’ve borrowed from Aden Nichols, who very helpfully shared her page with a Facebook group for editors. Thank you, Aden! To a lesser extent, I’ve also used terminology from Jean Weber, Word-Mart.com, and Jacquelyn Landis’s course, “The Keys to Effective Editing.”

Typically, when editing the first draft of a manuscript, you start on the macro level. This is the developmental editing process, and it addresses questions like:

  • Is there a clear intended audience?
  • Is the author making their point clearly and cogently?
  • Is there a strong focus?
  • Where is the “filler”? Which parts need more detail?
  • Are the facts straight?

This is where major structure and content revisions happen. People also refer to this as content editingsubstantive editing, or comprehensive editing. If you remember learning any kind of formulaic writing process at school, this is most like the revisions stage.

This kind of editing is also the trickiest to do, as much of it comes down to taste and judgment calls. What I think is great, brooding characterization can be someone else’s snoozefest. Generally speaking, I do not engage in developmental editing. There are always exceptions, of course, particularly if a manuscript is fantasy or science fictionLiterary fiction is also “in my junk drawer,” as Vu Le would put it. In other words, it’s also a genre I feel fairly comfortable in.

But you’ve done your revisions and gone through the developmental editing process. Now it’s time for copyediting. Copyediting addresses issues like:

  • typos
  • syntax
  • light fact-checking
  •  grammar
  • the finer points of style, such as word choice, sentence length, etc.

Usually this is also where an editor will bring a manuscript in agreement with a particular style sheet and dictionary.

Finally, you have proofreading: the final check before things go to print. Proofreaders check for:

  •  typos
  •  orthography and formatting errors
  •  double-check image attributions (if there are any)
  • adherence to a particular style guide or dictionary (or at least internal consistency)

It’s proofreading because the proofreader reads, unsurprisingly, the proof: the mock-up that will be sent to the printer (or eBook printer equivalent).

This means that if you want me (or anyone else) to proofread your manuscript, it should be, essentially, complete. If you want someone to smooth out the rough edges of your style and help everything flow together, you need a copyeditor. If you have a first draft, you should be working with beta readers/a critique group and maybe a developmental editor before anything else.

So, as for what I do!

I specialize in copyediting and proofreading non-fiction, academic texts written by non-native English speakers, whether for publication or simply for school assignments. I can also offer developmental editing in some fiction genres (science fiction, fantasy, and literary), though I ask that you send me a manuscript that has been (1) critiqued, and (2) revised at least once based on feedback from that critique.

If you opt to work with me, I will assume that you are at a place where you feel your style and your content are essentially complete. If I feel your manuscript needs more work than I can provide (that is, if I feel you need major revisions), I will point you in the direction of another professional who can better suit your needs.

My editing philosophy is to be minimally intrusive; most of what I do involves:

  • fixing odd word choices
  • maintaining an appropriate and consistent register
  • fixing typos
  • ensuring clarity
  • trimming wordiness (as necessary)

Many of my edits are, therefore, suggestions. The final call is always yours.

If this sounds like what you need, then feel free to get in touch with me using the contact form on the right. I look forward to working with you!

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