[frequently asked questions]

The pleasure is the rewriting: The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written. This is a koan-like statement, and I don’t mean to sound needlessly obscure or mysterious, but it’s simply true. The completion of any work automatically necessitates its revisioning. —Joyce Carol Oates

What type of editing do I need?
If you’ve visited other editing websites, you might be wondering what kind of editing you need: developmental and substantive editing; light, medium, and heavy copyediting; or proofreading. The answer is: I don’t know. First I need to see a sample of your document and talk with you about the project. Together we can determine exactly what you need and what will fit your time and budget. It is also a good way for us to see if our working styles and personalities will be a good fit.

Here are some of the questions I’ll likely ask: Who is your audience? What is the end product for your article or manuscript? How comfortable are you with the writing process? Have you published your writing before, and what was that experience like? Have you worked with an editor before, and what did you like and dislike about that experience?

What do you offer that other editors don’t?

I thrive in the zone where the way forward is blurred. This space offers challenges, professional growth. It is here that I can make a difference. I have helped authors to organize their book manuscript to be more logical, to sketch out an outline for a book idea, and to take that scary leap from research to writing. Among these challenges are the ever-present grammar, punctuation, spelling, clarity, flow, and consistency.

I offer no canned approaches or formulaic methods. I approach each project, each client with an open mind so that I can best meet the author’s needs—known and unknown.

I also have a lot of experience working with non-native-English speakers. I have worked with authors in Korea, Japan, China, Croatia, Germany, India, and South America. And I am particularly adept with first-time authors, gently helping them become more comfortable with the writing process and gaining confidence in their writing skills.

But decide for yourself. Compare what I’ve written on my website with other editors. Ask yourself if my working style would work for you. If you’re not sure, give me a call or send me an email.

My first draft is very rough. I’m embarrassed to show it to you.
I understand. I often feel similarly, even with second drafts and final drafts. We feel protective about our writing because by sharing our words we are risking the scrutiny of others. But a first draft is a great place to start working together. Before you spin your wheels any longer, I can help you identify what areas need revising and why. Perhaps your draft would benefit from some reorganization. Maybe some extraneous material should be cut so as not to dilute your main message. This type of feedback at the first-draft stage can save you time by helping you see where to focus your efforts.

Don’t think of me as a person with a red pen; I’m here to support you and your words.

Why should I invest in an editor when I can skip the publisher all together and self-publish or write a blog?
You’ve found yourself to this site, so part of you must be curious as to whether or not there is value in hiring an editor. Editors specialize in making a piece of writing ready for publication, either in print or online. Our value exceeds the grammar and spelling lessons we all learned in school.

  • Editors know how to help writers think on paper.
  • Editors know how to ensure that the words on a page match the ideas in your head.
  • Editors know how to fix more than typos and grammar faux pas. (In fact, many common grammar mistakes—such as the rule against splitting infinitives and ending a sentence with a preposition—are perfectly acceptable.)
  • Editors know how to follow the style guidelines of the publication you are submitting to, such as ensuring that all headers are formatted the same, terminology and spelling are consistent, pagination and figure numbers are crosschecked, and references and footnotes are correctly formatted.
  • Editors know how to spot and correct errors in logic.
  • Editors know how to enhance the clarity and flow of your ideas on paper.

How long will it take for you to edit my book?
Every project is different. But I certainly understand deadlines. Let’s discuss your project, and I will tell you if I can meet your schedule requirements.

I have a limited budget. Can you provide a ballpark cost?
Every project has time and budget parameters. Tell me about your project and send me a sample of your work. That way I can give you my assessment.

Do you work only with published writers?
I work with anyone who wants to improve his or her writing. My favorite clients are those who want to share their ideas and expertise with people but don’t write for a living. This is the ideal situation for a collaborative experience: me sharing my experience with words and you sharing your expertise, whatever it may be.

What type of things do you edit?
My favorite thing to edit is anything written by enthusiastic authors, people who are excited about the information and ideas they have to share and want to present their ideas to readers in the clearest and most enjoyable way.

However, medical, technical, and scientific manuscripts, unless intended for a general audience, are best done by an editor with a background in the relevant subject. You can locate editors who specialize in these areas in the Editorial Freelancers Association’s membership directory.

If you edit my article/book/manuscript will that guarantee it will be published?
No, I do not guarantee that the manuscripts I edit will be published. Getting published is a possible next step after editing. But don’t underestimate the importance of clarity in expressing your ideas. When your words have clarity, you make them accessible. When grammar and punctuation are priorities in your manuscript, your words are more effective. When the words from your first page to the end are formatted consistently, your ideas don’t get bogged down. That will make your manuscript more appealing to the publisher, magazine, or journal you are submitting to—and ultimately, more appealing to your readers.

What does an editor do?
A lot or a little, depending on what you and I decide up front. Read my Services page to learn more about the type of editing I do. Look at my How I Work page to get a feel for what it’s like to work with me.

If you’ve never worked with an editor before, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America offers information about working with independent editors, although it is slanted toward fiction. The site also provides links to other useful articles about working with editors.

Also, read these tips about making the most of your freelance copyeditor experience from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (located in the UK).