Questions About My Services, Self-Publishing, & Book Editors
There is no uniform definition specific to all book edits. Editors tend to develop their own terminology, and some separate the various tasks they perform into a menu of services.
I prefer not to turn my brain on and off from one edit to another. I give my all to every manuscript that I edit and will identify every single issue that I feel could be of concern to commercial publishers, including a thorough proofreading, giving you an opportunity to address the problems in your manuscript prior to publisher submission. My fee for this full scope of services is less than others charge for proofreading alone.
I don't just mark up your manuscript and leave you high and dry. I explain the markings in my report and give you grammatical rules so you won't have to look them up. A marked up manuscript without related explanations deprives you of the total value of an edit, leaving you completely in the dark as far as a learning experience is concerned.
Be prepared to perform a major rewrite as a result of my edit.
If your editor has a regular job and other family and personal responsibilities, a book-length edit could take weeks. I'm a full-time editor who works six days a week and most holidays, so a book-length edit for me takes only a few days.
Many of the most heavily experienced and highly sought after editors are offended if asked to provide a sample edit, much like a doctor would react if asked to perform a sample physical examination. They’re professionals, and their experience speaks for itself. On the other hand, less experienced editors gladly provide sample edits and try hard to impress you to win your business.
Will the same effort be devoted to your actual edit after they've been paid? Previous clients have been unhappy with other editors because the subsequent edits were not nearly as thorough as the samples.
A sample will show only markings with little actual feedback. Sample edits can't yield in-depth feedback because most major issues are not identifiable from only a few pages, and it's that in-depth feedback that you need most. Some troublesome issues evolve over chapters rather than a few mere pages. With a sample edit, you'll get some marked up pages that may not at all be reflective of a prospective editor's overall degree of knowledge and expertise. And here's another point. When you're a new and inexperienced author, on what basis do you distinguish an effective sample from an inferior one? How do you know which points are most relevant for an editor to identify? You could be impressed by someone for all the wrong reasons.
Publishers look at manuscripts from a different perspective than you. As a novice, you have no idea what kind of problems could be deal breakers to publishers. A far more important determining factor than a sample edit is the prospective editor's actual commercial editing experience with major publishers. Academic credentials are meaningless.
You may see a representative page from one of my edits at my site that's dedicated to helping you get published — Writing2Sell.com; however, as stated above, this generic page alone holds little value without the extensive written feedback to accompany an actual edit.
Editors need plenty of white space on which to make notations. A courier font spreads the words out and offers more white space than any other. Any editor who doesn't insist on a courier font must not plan to put many marks on your manuscript, and that isn't good.
Manuscript edits are largely misunderstood. No editor can improve your style; only you can do that through continued practice. Edits alone can't make a manuscript publishable; only writers can. Editors are like coaches; they can't play the game for you, but they can prepare you for your best performance.
Making a novel print-ready isn't about correcting grammatical and punctuation changes alone; many critical issues identified by your editor will require sentence-to-sentence reconstruction which, again, requires extensive involvement of the author.
In short, you alone will be responsible for making your manuscript print-ready regardless of who your editor may be.
You probably won’t. Keep in mind, though, that it's those very comments that you don’t like that will probably help you improve your manuscript more than any others. In all likelihood you'll have an extensive rewrite ahead.
Be forewarned that the most serious issues I'll point out may not be what you anticipated. Probably the most critical issues will be some that you may have never even have heard of. I've edited almost 2,500 manuscripts, and not a single one has gotten past me without identification of major issues.
I urge you to put aside any preconceived notions as to what your manuscript's weaknesses might be. Industry professionals evaluate manuscripts differently than you. Your area of concern may very well have been handled properly whereas other issues may be in greater need of improvement. I will look for every single factor that could be of concern to readers and publishers alike.
If I don’t mention a specific aspect in my report, you may presume that I observed no problem with it. Again, what you think in advance might be problematic in your manuscript may not be an issue at all, whereas aspects of which you were previously unaware could pose serious threats. Please trust my judgment. I've been doing this for decades.
Neither I nor anyone else can provide you with an accurate market assessment. If I could do that, I would be a billionaire!
Keep in mind that I don't read manuscripts for entertainment or education purposes. Editing requires deep concentration, and marking errors creates constant distractions. Any editor who can be entertained while editing a manuscript isn’t focused on doing a thorough job. As a result, I can't tell you if I "liked" your story. Again, I'll be editing it from a negative perspective, looking for problems. You the author will benefit more from this approach.
I realize that full payment in advance of services provided is unusual, but editing is a strange business. In this instance, it's actually to the client's benefit to pay all fees before services are rendered. Editors can easily lose their objectivity when part of their payment is at risk. When not paid entirely in advance, editors have a tendency to sugar-coat their comments to assure receipt of the remaining payment. To get the best, most honest evaluation of your work, an editor can't be at risk for payment in full. Remember, you're paying for criticism. You may not agree, and probably won't, with everything your editor says about your work.
Sometimes the truth hurts, and instead of embracing a wealth of new knowledge to help improve his/her craft, a rare client will have a "kill the messenger" reaction to the overwhelming news and enormous work ahead to correct his/her manuscript.
For instance, one particular angry client once claimed that I didn't do a thorough job. The truth speaks for itself. My 32 page, single-spaced report provided a wealth of information. I identified 17 separate format problems, 34 grammar issues, and 23 major issues, any one of which could lead to instant rejection from a commercial publisher. That's a total of 74 different kinds of issues recurring throughout the manuscript. Not even one of its pages got past me without at least one mark; most pages were covered in marks.
I didn't just say "Your manuscript is riddled with viewpoint violations--research it;" I instead provided a 1,000+ word explanation of the concept negating the need for research. Despite my hard work, I would never have received a final payment from this client had I not required full payment in advance. Only total honesty from your editor will prove helpful, and editors can't be completely forthcoming when the possibility of an incident such as I've described above is possible. You're wasting your money without assurance that your editor will give you his/her unbiased, honest opinion. My goal as your editor is to give you a thorough, objective evaluation of your manuscript through constructive criticism. I want my clients to succeed; their success reflects positively on me.
Absolutely not. I’m a one-man operation, and I perform 100% of the work myself.
When one specific book editor is heavily endorsed by someone in the industry, there could be a kick-back commission arrangement going on wherein the referring party receives a percentage of all referral business; in other words, the referring party has a selfish financial interest for steering you toward someone in particular. In this case, you typically lose because the recommended book editor is not likely to be the best/most qualified professional to edit your manuscript, and you could pay more than the best editor might charge.
Likewise, publishers are in the business of publishing and agents are in the business of agenting. If either urges you to pay for their editorial services, go elsewhere. Rarely are they qualified to offer such services.
As is the case with most professions, book editors are typically experienced within only a few select categories. No one is qualified to professionally edit everything. For instance, a children's book editor would be of little help in editing a science fiction novel.
Hiring an editor to work directly with your master file excludes you from the learning process you would otherwise experience by making corrections to the manuscript yourself. If you're serious about a career as a professional writer, you should take time to learn what your book editor points out to you so that you won't make those same mistakes in the future.
Your manuscript is your personal creation and should not be meddled with by someone else. A sculptor would never allow an art critic to take hammer and chisel to a work-in-progress, and neither would you.
Obtaining a copyright is the last step in the publishing process. If you copyright a manuscript, then change even one word, you will have voided your original copyright. Only complete, ready-for-publication manuscripts should be copyrighted.
If you're concerned about the security of your manuscript, visit the U.S. Copyright Office's FAQ page. You'll find that your work is protected by law even without formal registration.
Keep in mind that ideas and concepts themselves cannot be copyrighted; only completed manuscripts can. I didn't build my strong reputation by breaching confidentiality, so there's absolutely no risk for you.