Today’s ASK EM comes from Donna Rice Fitzgerald. *waves to Donna* She asked:
What can I expect from an editor?
This is a great question many of us have starting out. However, with the self-publishing craze, more and more people are contracting help from freelance editors. You might have questions about this process as well, so I’ll try to answer those. Feel free to post questions!
In-House Editors with Publishers
The first thing to keep in mind is all editors are not created equal. You might have a fantastic editor that pushes you hard to do your best work. And you might have a lackadaisical editor who moves commas around or only picks out repetitive words. With that said, you can always take something away from the process. Maybe you finally learn what an Oxford comma is and whether or not your publisher prefers them.
If you have a strict editor, you might find the page filled with red marks and new comments. Frustrated, you may feel you’re doing nothing right at all. Then you come across a passage that is blemish-free.
What could this mean, you ask? It’s well-written, exactly what the editor was looking for.
This is one of those cases where you see what you’re doing RIGHT, and sometimes that teaches more than knowing what you’re doing WRONG.
An editor will typically run through 2 or more passes of your work. You will have:
includes plot, characterization, time-line issues (I wouldn’t know jack about that *blush*), and general storyline
includes grammar, punctuation, word echoes, and general syntax
You will be asked to use TRACK CHANGES, which is easy peasy once you’ve done it a time or two. After your book has left your editor’s hands, it typically goes through steps of more detailed line edits and proofing.
With this said, ALWAYS PROOF YOUR FINAL before you send it back to the publisher. This is the last time you will see it before readers do, so you want it to be perfect.
AND EDITORS ARE HUMAN. This means human error happens. If you read through it again before it goes to press, there is less risk of missing something.
The first thing to keep in mind is all editors are not created equal. You might have a fantastic editor that pushes you hard to do your best work. And you might have a lackadaisical editor who moves commas around or only picks out repetitive words. With that said, you can always take something away from the process.
WAIT! Didn’t you just read that? Yep, you did. Freelance editors come in all levels of ability too. And where you’re usually stuck with the the editor your publisher chooses, you do have freedom when hiring an editor.
For me, personality is very important. It’s like dating–you click or you don’t. This can really make a difference in how your edits are handled as well as how you feel about the entire process. So exchange emails before you take that step and hire the editor. Ask for examples of their work and read a snippet on Amazon. If it’s a hot mess, move on.
Freelance editors typically offer different services depending on your needs. I have authors who require a lot of content work, so we might focus our efforts there. Some just want line edits and proofing.
One thing I (try to remember to) tell the authors I work with is that they should have someone reliable read through their work a final time before self-publishing. Here again is that human error issue. After a few passes, I might become desensitized to the manuscript and a fresh set of eyes is always welcome.
I hope this helps you better understand the editing process. Fire questions at me!
Thanks for reading,