Questions markWhy do I need an editor?

No matter how well you write, no matter how well you edit your work, you have one fatal flaw. You know what you mean.

It’s easy to assume your reader will know too. But that’s a misguided assumption. An editor doesn’t know what you mean in advance; they only have your words to go on. On the most basic level, that’s why you need an editor — to make sure your words actually communicate what you mean.

What does an editor do?

No matter what genre or format you’re working in, professional editors make sure your writing is correct, clear, and compelling.

Correct / A good editor ensures that the facts and mechanics of your writing are flawless — so that even an expert will be satisfied.

Clear / A good editor makes sure your words flow smoothly, that your piece unfolds logically, and that your writing possesses a clear and effortless quality — so that even a novice can understand it.

Compelling / A good editor enhances your personal style, filtering and and refining your writing for maximum impact — so that anyone can enjoy and appreciate it.

Are all editors the same?

Obviously there are some differences in experience and skill, but a more fundamental difference is specialization. Some editors specialize by form or subject matter; others specialize by role in the editing process.

This kind of role specialization is especially common at, say, large publishing houses. Proofreaders focus on correcting errors, for example. They are traditionally the final line of defense before the typesetter. They only start work after several different editors (with several different job titles) have worked through broader issues of style and content.

Freelancers are often generalists, or at least offer several different services and various gradations of editing. I myself do mostly generalized “authors’ editing”: I work directly for authors, and do whatever it takes to make sure their writing is clear, correct, and compelling.

In the end, excellent prose is always a team effort — even if only one person gets their name on the book cover. All good writers use editors and proofreaders.

When should I use an editor?

Most authors come to me when they’ve finished a draft. They have already written and edited it as best they can, and are starting to think about publishing or other next steps.

It can be worth engaging an editor much earlier, however. Given the first five pages of a manuscript, a good editor will pick out errors and weaknesses that will recur over the next few hundred pages. They can then coach you in how to avoid these problems going forward.

Why not hand those first five pages over to an editor before writing the next five hundred? It’s  generally best to fix your problems before they even occur. Wouldn’t you rather do this than pay someone to fix the same problem over hundreds of pages?

How much will it cost?

The amount of editing that a piece needs — or that the author desires — varies tremendously. This means a ‘one size fits all’ approach is pretty silly, even if it would keep things simpler. So I am suspicious of editing outfits who offer a page rate on unseen pages. To make that work, they have to take a cookie cutter approach that tramples on the actual state and needs of your writing.

I do free samples — usually 2 pages long — and then quote a price based on the amount of time it will take to edit the full manuscript.

This sample gives you a chance to see what I can do for you. It also can start a dialogue about how much editing you want. Perhaps you’re not interested in stylistic edits or don’t have the budget for it. In that case we can focus on proofreading for errors. It’s much easier to see and talk about this sort of thing with an example in hand.

To start this process, contact me.