My guest blogger is Laurie Laliberte, a Kindle All-Star editor and author. I asked her what authors should expect when she edits their work and she has been kind enough to share her thoughts on the process she uses when editing a manuscript. Stop by her site and let her know I sent you.
What to expect When You’re Editing
Very few authors these days get edited. I’m not talking about sending a manuscript off to a big name publishing house where it maybe gets read by an acquisitions editor then sent back with changes requested so that editor can then “sell” it to the boss. I mean real, honest to goodness, old-fashioned editing. This is why Tony asked me to walk you through my process.
Notice the words “my process” are in italics? There’s a reason for that: not every editor works the same way. But that’s a good thing because not every writer works the same way. That said, I will take you through my process from a writer’s perspective with a bit of commentary from the editor’s point of view.
You’ve written a first draft, let it sit for a while, then gone through and done a full revision. Now you may have done even more than that, but I certainly hope you’ve revised your ‘script at least once and that you’re confident it’s ready to be worked by an editor.
This is crucial because the rougher your manuscript, the more I’m going to charge you to edit it. I may even turn you away. My job is not to rewrite or ghost write; it’s to help you refine your work.
Okay, now you’ve decided to contact me. I’m going to ask you for three things:
- A sample of your manuscript. That’s the first chapter or two OR the first ten pages, double spaced. Formatting for publishers or for Kindle is best done after editing is finished because there’s a good chance we’ll have to format it again anyway. If you have a specific publisher in mind and/or a specific style guide to follow and you want to send your ‘script according to that, I’m okay with it. But it’s easier to read/edit a doc that’s double spaced.
- Your target date for publication. I want to make sure I can meet your deadline.
- Your word count and page count. This is the biggest factor in determining my fee.
Now you wait. As soon as I receive this information from you, I’ll send a return email to acknowledge I’ve received it and to let you know when to expect my estimate. I make every effort to return with an estimate within 24 hours, but you should allow up to 3 days. (With each step, I will let you know when to expect to hear from me.) I will also direct you to my editing information page(s) on my blog and/or the Kindle All-Stars website just to make sure you know my reputation. We need to be comfortable with one another if we’re going to work together successfully.
The first pass is a story edit. I read through the entire document at least once (often twice) and recommend any major changes. This includes things like:
- identifying areas that need to be fleshed out more
- plot holes
- character issues/development
- general areas for improvement
I may also highlight areas that I believe absolutely should not be changed because they work very well.
The timing on this depends on the length of your document and my workload. It could take anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of weeks.
I will send the doc back to you or email you to let you know I’m done with the Google doc so you can execute any changes. You are not required to make the changes I recommend. This is your book, but let me tell you this: More than once I’ve read negative reviews from readers who call out problems in pieces I’ve edited where the author(s) chose not to take my advice.
The second pass is a line edit. This is where I go through and fix any grammar, spelling, punctuation, and suggest specific areas where you need to clean up language and details. This is usually a bit faster than the first pass, but allow the same amount of time.
This time, you’ll want to make your changes and do all of your formatting for your publisher or for Kindle before sending the doc back to me for its (hopefully) final pass.
The third pass is a full proofread. Here’s where I go through the doc and look for anything we could have possibly missed. From spelling (I DO NOT rely on a spell checker), to spacing, to punctuation. Have we dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s? Most of the time I simply make all the changes, but if I spot anything major, I’ll send the doc back to you for review. This one is usually very fast.
If any major changes come up during that proofread I will proof the ‘script again.
Whew! Now you’ve got a polished manuscript that’s ready to be seen by the world.
If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them for you. I prefer you leave them in the comments section below or on my website so others may benefit from the answer.
If you would like to contact me directly, you may do so from my website or email me at KindleAllStars [at] gmail [dot] com.