Editing comes in a few basic varieties, and I’ve provided some general descriptions below. But every project is a little different. Maybe you’re a publishing scholar who is confident in your research but wants to make sure that your logic would make sense to an educated layperson. Or maybe your novel needs special attention to consistent voice in dialogue but requires a lighter editorial touch on the narrative passages. My editing is always tailored to the needs of the writer and the project. Please feel free to contact me — initial consultations are free.
In the world of traditional, hard-copy publishing, a proofreader checks the printed “proof” copy against an earlier marked-up draft in order to make sure that all the changes were made and no errors crept in during typesetting. Today, proofreaders don’t often work with a paper copy, but they are still the last line of defense before publication. When proofreading, I catch typos, punctuation errors, formatting errors, and violations of grammatical rules. I make sure that the table of contents, page numbers, and cross-references are accurate, that the layout looks right, and the style is consistent.
The important thing to know about proofreading is that it requires a very polished manuscript: in other words, you’re basically ready to hit “print” or “send,” but you just want to have someone check it over one last time. But what if your manuscript or document isn’t so polished? Maybe your content is all there, but you’re pretty sure that you made a few grammar and punctuation mistakes and you might have some awkward sentences. In that case, you need some editing.
COPY EDITING AND LINE EDITING
When I’m proofreading, I look at the tiny details, but when I edit, I consider some of the bigger issues. In a copyedit, I correct errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and I look for stylistic consistency. (For instance, I make sure that your journal article doesn’t use “semiannual” on p. 2 and “semi-annual” on p. 17, or that Chapter 3 of your novel doesn’t shift from past to present tense halfway through.)
In a line edit (also sometimes referred to as a substantive edit), I do all of that and also make sure that the text flows well and the ideas are clearly conveyed at the sentence and paragraph level. This means I might rewrite some sentences, move paragraphs around, and add or rephrase text to create stronger connections between ideas. If you reread your work and think, “There must be some better way to say this,” then you probably need a copyedit or line edit.
Not sure which one you need? Most people aren’t. Don’t worry, I charge the same rate for copyediting and line editing, and I can give you a ballpark estimate before I start work.
Line editing and copyediting are performed on somewhat advanced drafts of a document — the content is all there, the big ideas are all connected, and the structure of the text suits its function. But say that you’re just starting out — you have a messy rough draft and aren’t quite sure how to make it all work. This is when you may need a developmental editor.
The developmental editor comes alongside you during the challenging early stages of a project and thinks about how your document works as a whole. Is it well-organized? Does it clearly support its ideas, or does anything need to be cut, expanded upon, or re-explained? How well do the structure and style suit the intended audience?
For my copy editing projects, my client sends me their manuscript, and I give it back to them all marked up with my suggested changes. Developmental editing, however, is usually more of a back-and-forth exchange between writer and editor, with the document going through a few rounds of rewriting and editing.
My rates are at the low end of the guidelines provided by the Editorial Freelancers’ Association. To keep it simple and cost-effective, I prefer to charge hourly rates. I can often review a document and give a fairly accurate estimate of time and cost, and I’m glad to do this as part of an initial consultation. Depending on the project, I sometimes offer reduced rates for clients on a budget (PhD students with long dissertations, for example). I usually edit in Microsoft Word using the Track Changes and Comments tools, although I can also edit in OpenOffice, Pages, and Scrivener. I’ve also worked with Adobe Reader for simple proofreading projects.
Stephanie has helped me to polish numerous academic manuscripts. Her quality is unparalleled. I am especially impressed with her work ethic. She is always punctual, and she is very accommodating of my deadlines. In each job, she exceeds my expectations in all respects. It is a great pleasure working with Stephanie, and I know I can always count on her to deliver.A very thankful professor from Maryland