Sally Chewter - Copy Editor / Proofreader

Why do you need an editor?

I understand your fiction & non-fiction projects.

whyWhether you've written beat poetry or the next blockbuster screenplay, a lavish, bodice-ripping period romance or a science fiction adventure, I know your form and genre. I know about important things like leaving the dialects alone, preserving your voice and vision, and making sure you retain complete creative control. If you've written non-fiction, be assured I'll be focused on helping you communicate your ideas clearly and concisely, giving you a better, stronger, and perfectly crafted manuscript.

One thing many independent authors don’t invest in is a quality editor. But let me tell you: EDITING IS NOT OPTIONAL.

One of the reasons many authors skip this step is because they just don’t know what they are going to get.

Worries I often hear:

  • Will you be mean to me?
  • Will you try to change my 'voice' or my vision?
  • Will you charge an unreasonable fee?
  • My book looks GREAT to me.. so what exactly does a copy editor do and why would I need one?

The first three I can answer easily; the last — well, that’s a little more complicated.

  • A good editor will NEVER be mean to you, although they may push your comfort zone at times.
  • A good editor will never change your voice, but will work with you to enhance it.
  • And finally, a good editor is worth every penny you spend, and you should throw in a puppy for good measure!

Trust me, if some people didn’t have an editor, they’d still be writing their manuscript in chalk on the front path.

The steps for editing a manuscript should, generally, follow this outline:

The BETA (non-professional) reader

This is a friend/colleague/family member/pet whose opinion you value.
This is the person (or people) who will thrash out with you, back and forth, things that don’t make sense. They may spot plot holes, inconsistencies, lack of believability, even factual mistakes.
You can send them a first draft with a list of things you aren’t sure what to do about, and they will help you and tell you it’s great.
They are your sounding board, your support system, and they are essential.

The Critique Partner

This is a friend/colleague (I don't recommend family members or pets for this one) who's not afraid to tell you your manuscript has an odour like the outhouse you used in summer camp.
They are fellow professionals who care about your success. Usually, a critique partner is someone for whom you do the same thing. Sometimes there is some copy-editing involved and they will fix what they can, but generally they're keeping a sharp eye out for readability and story flow.


So, what’s the difference between content, copy and line editing?

There are a few different kinds of editors. Some perform more than one function, some only do one, but at some point you want all of these editorial steps taken. And you want them taken by someone else; you can’t do it alone. And you don’t want your mother/husband/cousin/dog to do it either. An editor requires a certain amount of professional distance in order to tell you what you really need to hear. (I withdraw this statement for those of you whose mothers/husbands/cousins or dogs are professional editors).

These can be separate people or combined. However, I caution you that very few people can do all three skills well.

The Content Editor

This is the professional eye which goes through your manuscript with a fine tooth comb. They will catch things like inconsistent character behaviour or speech, style issues, thematic variations and readability. A content editor will be able to help you adjust your language by audience (literary fiction vs. Young Adult fiction – there is a difference!), make sure everything makes sense, has believable dialogue and a plausible plotline. Many people skip this step, thinking their editor who fixes commas will do this as well. If you are lucky, they will, although the cost for editors who are that skilled is quite high and often, even if the person is capable, their attention to other issues in your manuscript might mean they miss something that could make the difference between an OK story and an epic novel.

The Copy Editor

In journalism, a copy editor is essentially a fact checker and someone who protects the publication from libel. For our purposes, a Copy Editor is more like a professional proof-reader. Someone who performs this task usually does minimal rewriting for the sake of efficiency of prose as opposed to stylistic choices. They check the manuscript for clarity and flow. In my experience, most copy editors will also do line editing, as the two are tied closely together and work well as a two-part process.

The Line Editor

This is your final defence, the last step, the difference between being a writer with a good idea and a professional author. The line editor generally isn’t there to discuss story arc or make sure you understand how to use a dialogue tag. Instead, they are there to make sure you are putting out the best quality product possible. Line editors will go over each sentence to make sure it is ready for publication. They check for grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency and word usage (Is he your Principle or your PrinciPAL?) and can often assist with rewriting or rewording sections that need help.

As you can see, there are a lot of steps, and they are all important. In the end, the best thing you can do is find some people you trust with your work and get them on your team. Each step in the process will only make your manuscript better, and money spent on a a professional edit is never wasted


For a modest extra fee, we can turn your manuscript into an e-book, and / or publish this.

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