I apply everything I know about publishing to my editing services, ensuring all content is totally fit for its intended audience and purpose. This isn't just about following language and publishing conventions, but doing whatever the text needs - fixing anything that's lacking or interrupts the 'smooth' read, and creating a 'communication rapport' between the content and its readers.
What kind of editing do you need? Substantial? Development? Copy? Line? Paragraph? Content?
When looking for editorial support, you will come across many different 'types' of editor and editing, like those listed here. They really originate from the workflow processes of the large publishing houses, breaking roles down to 'top-end' and 'bottom-end' editors (nothing to do with the skills involved - they are just different, like a car designer and a car mechanic), but the distinctions cause a lot of confusion when it comes to finding freelance support.
The point is that editors who focus on the big picture (e.g. at development level) do not always look out for small issues in the content; and those who focuses on the small picture (e.g. at line level) do not always look out for the big. Naturally, to make a book brilliant you need both!
This is why some authors engage more than one type of editor, but this means passing the text from one person to another, requiring repeated cold starts as each editor familiarises themself with a new client and new content. All of this takes time - and money. One author came to me after being told she needed a development editor, a line editor and a copy editor. In fact, she only needed one editor to complete the job (me).
The truth is, all you need is a highly experienced editor – one with a proven track record in every aspect of editing. I address everything that’s imperfect in a text. If it's lacking in any way - I will fix it, or at just make suggestions if that is your preference. If only minor tweaks are required, that is what I’ll do; and if three or fifty pages need deeper intervention, I will sort them out, easily adjusting the intensity of editing as I go.
Carrying out a top-down, multi-level edit like this is a very involved and disciplined process – the result of practise, practise, practise. It requires a supreme degree of engagement and an organised and logical mind. I'm at that stage in my career, but it took years to get there!
Exactly what editing tasks do I cover?
Everything that makes the text readable, consistent and accurate, and ensures the whole piece 'works' from the reader's point of view, allowing them to concentrate on the content without being distracted by issues that commonly arise. Many interventions are needed ... you'll get a good overview of what they are from the contents pages of Judith Butcher's internationally renowned copy-editing handbook. It was the official go-to reference book when I started out as an editor back in the 1980s. My 'holistic' approach to editing includes:
all the fundamentals - grammar, spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, capitalisation, italicisation and syntax (word order)
attending to style, tone, pace, flow, passive vs active voice, word choices, word over-use and overwriting to keep readers strongly engaged
preserving the author’s voice and making sure all edits are consistent with it
recognising and respecting creative writing that pushes the boundaries with new literary devices and intentional rule-breaking
addressing sensitive issues that can cause controversy or offence, relating to sexuality, ethnicity, religion, disability, age and unnecessary '-isms'
minimising unintentional stereotyping, stigmatisation, objectification, dehumanisation and gender bias
flagging up libellous and contentious content and copyright and permissions issues
eliminating tautology, ambiguity, contradiction, redundancy and repetition of words and concepts
ensuring the build-up of ideas and information allow readers to grow with the narrative, without getting lost on the way due to muddled thinking and gaps in logic
spotting author blind-spots, plot-holes and loose ends (when the writer’s mind subconsciously fills in the gaps)
restructuring sentences, paragraphs, sections and chapters, if required, by recasting, smoothing and tightening the prose
ensuring cohesion of the text body with other content, like illustrations, boxes, appendices, glossaries and displayed features
suggesting and/or providing new content (such as fresh writing or creating illustrations)
inserting mark-up codes to prepare the manuscript for trouble-free typesetting or digital publication.
For many texts, there will be more than one round of editing, with in-depth feedback and queries after each. The feedback and queries I provide are clear, pertinent, respectful and sensitive. The process is one of ever-decreasing circles, as issues get resolved and the content evolves.
What else can I do for you during ‘an edit’?
Plenty of other things! Here are just some of them:
Language editing (see more here).
Check facts, small (names, dates, events, people and places) and large.
Maximise diversity, inclusion and equity (‘sensitivity’ editing).
Compile front matter, end matter (including an index) and cover copy.
Apply any publisher's or organisation’s house-style.
Liaise with the printers and oversee printing and binding.
- Design and typeset the document in InDesign.
Format the Word doc to a publishable standard (rather than typesetting).
Design and create book covers (all three sides!).
Come up with a brilliant title to entice readers to the book
Liaise with literary agents and printers.
Help with author and book promotional materials and activities.
Re-purpose the content for a different audience.
Re-purpose the file for different publishing formats.
Language Editing is a distinct service
for non-native speakers of English.
The Author-Editor relationship
The author-editor relationship is one of the most important in the publishing process often likened to a marriage in terms of commitment, ups and downs.
Mutual respect, good communication and getting on well are therefore vital to the process, especially because the collaboration can be a long one, from the initial stages of working out the most convenient and efficient working routine, to honouring the author's wants, needs and voice while upholding the best editorial standards. Occasionally there are clashes, and a middle-ground has to be navigated and negotiated.
I also do my best to enthuse you and reassure you, and allow you to pick my brains about anything on the publishing spectrum.
See what the CIEP has to say about
Good Working Relationships
with your Editor.
My editing credentials, qualifications and experience over 30+ years include
Advanced Professional Membership of the Chartered Institute of Proofreaders and Editors (CIEP). You can also see some of my Author & Client Feedback here.
The added value of an 'Editor Plus'
When I’m editing, I also have my designer, typesetter, indexer and publisher hats on, with the end-product in sight. I think about aspects of the design, inside and out, suitable fonts and page features and imagery for the covers, for example, as well as the functionality and ease-of-use of nonfiction books, including terminology decisions that affects the index. Very usefully, I also spot issues that can cause problems downstream in the publication process.
Special considerations for different types of text
There are special considerations for different types of text, for example fiction texts, poetry, nonfiction and academic texts, documents that require language editing or anglicisation, and business documentation. Read more here.
And remember …
I don’t just edit books and other bound documents. I also edit individual chapters (for multi-author works), blogs and opinion pieces, ghosted articles, grant proposals, book proposals, publisher/agent query letters, theses and dissertations, articles for journals and content for magazines, newsletters and newspapers.
TRUST ING ME AS YOUR EDITOR
Most of my clients trust me to resolve issues directly rather than come back to them on everything - but this doesn't suit them all from the offset. With this in mind, I adapt my approach to suit each author, in the hope that they feel safe enough to give me more autonomy - thus speeding up the process considerably.