Some editors charge by the word, some by the page and even others charge by the type of editing or the size of the manuscript or a combination of these. The pricing structures are as unique as the authors and their writing projects. What you may not know is that editing process has many facets. For first time authors choosing a reputable and fairly priced editor or editing service can be extremely frustrating. But in the midst of this challenge, there are some things that every author or writer should be aware of concerning this process.
Armed with the understanding and knowledge revealed below, a soon-to-be-published author or writer will have a greater level of compassion and awareness for those whose services they employ, and there will be less disputes, disagreements and misunderstandings between them and the service provider(s).
In addition, this information will also restructure the mindset that follows this school of thought: “I don’t need to know the details, just edit my book!” Instead, the author will become informed about his or her need; and the services they require.
Here are some things you need to be aware of:
1. Editing is a time consuming job! A 100-page, 8.5×11 manuscript could take a skilled editor HOURS to read and comb through. Speed reading is not an option for most professionals and neither are the unrealistic turnaround times that a new author or anxious writer could impose. Professional editors will work through your manuscript just like a stylist works through a tangled head of thick hair – with extreme care and concern. Editing services may move faster based on the type of project, the editors familiarity with the author or writer’s work or even because they may have a staff or teams of writers who can dedicate their time to one project at a time. A one-person editing service could easily take more time.
If you are an experienced writer — meaning you’ve been writing professionally for years and have article and/or book organization and structure perfected — then the editing project may be easier. If you are a first time author who lacks an understanding of article or book organization and structure, then your project could very well be an editing nightmare. I am telling you what I know. As a result, what it costs one person for editing for a 100-page manuscript could cost another person more or less depending on how much editing time is required. In addition, many editors like to “review or scan through” a manuscript before agreeing to taking on a project or quoting costs. This is why so many provide quotes verses just giving you a flat rate.
For example, I have an excellent command on article and book organization and structure; but my areas of weakness lie in spelling and grammar errors due to a failure to proofread, not a lack of knowledge. So, when I request editing services it’s generally a spelling and grammar check job- not full-blown book development and cohesion.
On the other hand, I have read books that people have sent me to review. They were free of spelling errors, but the books had major editing needs as it related to content development, supporting facts, providing attribution for the use of quotes, and the need for re-writes to ensure clarity and understanding. An editing project like this is “intensive” and could take dedicated time.
It is critical that we understand that EVERY manuscript is as unique as the writer who submits them. To flat-rate the editing process is very difficult. Workmen are worthy of their hire. So in working with editors, earnestly listen for their feedback and recommendations. Take into account the kind of time it may take to edit your book. A good, professional editor will tell you up front what your project is in need of BEFORE taking the project on. Some projects may need to be completely rewritten for clarity and understanding.
2. There are different types of editors and editing services. As writers, you must know what you are in need of, and if you don’t know then search for an editor that can not only spell check your document, but evaluate what you really need to have done. This is critical. I rather have an editor say to me, “Theresa, this project is outside of my area of expertise. Let me recommend someone else to you,” than to end up with a project that only minimally meets my expectations. Understand that there are different types of editors and editing services that writers may need.
There is developmental editing, substantive editing, copy editing and proofreading. In addition, there are editors who specialize in medical, scientific, educational, creative writing or even religious editing on various levels. There are also editors who specialize in creative writing projects like novels, poetry and plays. It is important to know what the editor of your choice specializes in. For example, one editor may have a keen insight as it relates to editing “prophetic writing” while another editor may only specialize in “theological perspectives” on writing. Another editor could specialize in magazine, newspaper or web content writing. Each area is distinctly different and is governed by its own “style.” There are so many twists and turns in this area that we couldn’t possibly address them all. The good news is: There is an editor out there who can help you. The point is this: If you don’t know what you need or want, you could easily place false expectations on the editor you choose, choose the wrong editor or end up very dissatisfied with your finished product.
3. Expect time delays and/or contingencies along the way. As stated earlier, different projects take different amounts of time. Just because you think an editor can edit your project in two business days, don’t mean it will happen that way. In the midst of an editing project, there are times when questions arise and your prompt response is needed to move forward. Some of those questions could drastically change your project. If you are an editor, it can be devastating to your schedule to work with a client who fails to respond in a timely manner – especially when deadlines have been set.
There are also times when the editor may discover “unanticipated problems” in a manuscript, and extra costs could be involved in fixing them. These delays and contingencies are always possible. It is important to be aware of and to expect these kinds of things to take place. Have you ever taken your car to the shop to have your oil changed only to discover that your transmission also needed flushing out? Well, things happen. Just brace yourself for unplanned road blocks. At the same time, make sure that there is good communication between you and your editor either by phone or email. Don’t forget to ask them about how they handle issues like these when they arise.
Editors should avoid clients that are unresponsive to requests for more information concerning their projects; and authors should respect the time of the editor and seek to bring their projects to completion within a reasonable amount of time. Professionals should also respect the projects of the client, and return calls and answer questions as quickly as possible.
There are so many other areas about editing that should be addressed. We will discuss them further in future articles. The point I want to raise here is that the job of an editor isn’t easy and sometimes, clients can be really insensitive an unrealistic concerning their expectations. In addition, professional editors should also be mindful of their clients and always strive to communicate effectively, earnestly and promptly. Also, never forget that there is no COOKIE CUTTER SOLUTION to editing process but there is definitely a solution to finding a good, professional editor to meet your needs.