Frequently Asked Questions

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Book editing tools

What does a book editor do?

As a writer, you are trying to tell a story and you are trying to reach an audience. You’ve probably got a million ideas zipping around your brain, or in your manuscript. An editor’s job is to bring order to these ideas so that your story or message shines through. Depending on your project, an editor may read your manuscript many times, making notes on characterization, plotting, setting, structure, pacing, voice. An editor‘s job is to serve the story or the book and make recommendations to ensure that story or book is the best it can be. A good editor will help pull out ideas that you didn’t even know you had.

How can I tell what kind of book editing I need?

The type of editing you need depends upon where you are in the writing process. The descriptions in the sidebar will point you in the right direction:

A developmental editor helps you turn your notes and ideas—even a first draft–into a solid synopsis and outline. A developmental editor will coach you through the writing process, helping you to focus on the strengths in your writing, and identifying the areas that need work.

You’ve completed the first draft of your novel. Congratulations! Although it may be tempting to type “The End” and send it off to an agent (or three), your book will be better served if you take a step back and have a book editor read the finished draft to see where the story is working—and where it could use some revision.

While working on a substantive edit, the editor will read your manuscript several times to get to the core of the story. Notes will be made on characterization, plotting, setting, structure, pacing, and voice. The editor will offer suggestions as to how to make your manuscript more refined, more focused, more marketable, allowing you to revise the manuscript so that it meets your goals.

You’ve revised your manuscript, and all the “big pieces”—characterization, plot, pacing–are in place.
Now it’s time to look at the smaller details. In a line edit, the editor will go through the work, word-by-word, line-by-line, looking for areas that may need further explanation, clarity for meaning, elimination of jargon, smoother language, and other non-mechanical line-by-line editing. A line edit is more detail-focused than a substantive edit.

A copyeditor’s job is to make sure all the smallest details are in place. A copyeditor looks for errors in grammar and punctuation, checks your facts and makes sure that your writing is consistent throughout the book. Work is usually done according to the standards in the Chicago Manual of Style.

What is a synopsis? Is it the same thing as a book proposal?

A synopsis is a breakdown of your story. I liken it to a roadmap. Sometimes, authors like to do a chapter-by-chapter synopsis; sometimes they prefer to use a narrative style to reveal the characters, plot, setting etc. A synopsis is a valuable tool for the writer and it is useful for editors and publishers, too. It is not the same thing as a book proposal—you are not necessarily selling anything here. There is no set length for a synopsis, but I think about ten pages is ideal.

Can I edit my own book?

Yes, you can–but editing your own book is like trying to cut your own hair! An editor has the benefit of being able to view your work objectively. It can be difficult to step back from your writing to see the weak spots or, more importantly, to fully appreciate the really strong content. Most creative work involves editors at one stage or another—whether the medium is the written word, film or music. A good editor will help you see things you didn’t even know were there.

How much does a book editor charge for their work?

Some editors charge per word, some charge a flat fee, some charge an hourly rate. The cost depends on how much work is involved and the type of editing required. Whatever the case, a good book editor will work within your budget.

Call me and we can talk about costs for your project.

Everyone Has a Story to Tell, And I’d Love to Help You With Yours.

Selected Portfolio

Love is murder by Sandra Brown

Love is Murder

You can do it by Jasinda Wilder

You Can Do It

Sugar by Kimberly Stuart


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