Tag: editing

Editing well

Is there a business case for editing well?

Last year’s Man Booker panel took a swipe at the editorial standards of some of the submissions they received. The industry response combined defensiveness with begrudging acknowledgement. But whether or not you’d agree with slipping standards, many editors, and not just those of literary fiction, will tell you how hard it is to find the time for a ‘good edit’, and perhaps harder still to justify one.

Continue reading

Track Changes

Progress Reports: What’s happening during your edit? [FOR AUTHORS]

It’s 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your manuscript is?

It’s like being trapped in a replay loop of the old TV public service announcement reminding parents the kids should be home for the evening, safe and sound—only this time, it’s your manuscript you’re worried about. You sent your baby to the editor a week ago, and you haven’t heard a word since then.

Continue reading

Fact Checking: Vital or a waste of time?

I spend a lot of my time editing non-fiction; no matter how much I love fiction, the factual stuff takes up more of my time at the moment. And with factual editing comes fact checking.

Continue reading

Stop the race to the bottom, value your writing services

I need an editor … you’ll be rewarded

I need an editor … you’ll get great exposure

I need an editor … fast

I need an editor … I don’t mind paying

I need an editor … willing to pay

I need an editor … for free

Continue reading

A guide on book title punctuation

For the trained eyes, there is nothing more annoying than looking at a book which is just one letter away from perfect. It is possible that you have made a capital mistake when not checking the rules of capitalization before publishing. It can be a tricky business, but nothing you cannot master by following a set of simple rules. In this article, we are writing about right capitalization and punctuation of titles (of your own books) on the cover and on the title page, with special regard to consistency.

Continue reading

Track Changes

File name conventions that keep track of your revisions [FOR AUTHORS]

It’s never too soon to start using good file naming habits. When your whole story lies ahead of you, it’s easy to naively assume you’ll start with TheGirlWiththeFuzzyManuscript_Orig, then go to FuzzyGirl_Revised, and maybe finish with TGWTFM_BetaFeedback.

Continue reading

So you want to be a freelance editor? Tips from the coalface

It is a truth universally acknowledged that book editors spend their days languidly leafing through the pages of books and occasionally waving a red pen in the vague direction of a stray comma or unruly capital… Or so I’ve been told – on numerous occasions. But never by the lucky ones who get to toil day-in day-out at the coalface of editing, diligently chipping away at a manuscript, carefully polishing it until it shines and looks its best. Funnily enough, they tell a different story. Don’t get me wrong: it’s an honour and a privilege to be involved in the creation of something so precious, but it’s a job that comes with some difficulties and pitfalls. So, take a seat, get comfy and let me tell you some of them…

Continue reading

Taking criticism well

Listed by the Observer as one of “Our top 50 players in the world of books”, Clare Conville previously worked as an editor at Random House, before co-founding Conville & Walsh in 2000. Between them Clare’s clients have won or been nominated for nearly every major literary prize in the UK including the Man Booker Prize, the Bollinger Everyman Woodhouse Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Best First Novel Award, and the Orwell Prize, the Guardian First Book Award and the Kate Greenaway Medal. Here, she discusses handling criticism well.

Continue reading

35 easy keyboard shortcuts to improve your workflow in Word

There’s a lot of talk among editors and wordy wordsmiths about using macros to help efficiency when you’re working. Truth be told, macros can be scary and take a bit of getting used to.

Continue reading

Inclusive language: 3 rules for editorial best practice

While the details of any book are important to get right, books about personal or sensitive topics require an extra level of attention to ensure inclusivity and correctness.

Continue reading

Post-publication editing for self-publishing authors

Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and copy-editor who specializes in helping independent authors of fiction and non-fiction bring clarity and consistency to their books. To get in touch, visit her website: Louise Harnby | Proofreader.

I’m a specialist author’s proofreader and copy-editor. I work primarily with independent fiction writers in a variety of genres including, but not limited to, crime, thriller, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural and romance.

I reckon I have the best job in the world – a client base that never ceases to inspire me, enough projects to fill my schedule, the ability to work when and where I wish, and project fees that meet my needs and expectations.

I’ve worked with authors who’ve truly mastered the art of writing. I’ve also worked with others who, as technicians of the craft, are still emerging. They all have one thing in common, though – they’ve used words to build a world and populate it with characters who have their own personalities, voices and experiences. Then they’ve come to me for help.

The order of things

Not all those authors commission my services before they publish. To those of us who are au fait with mainstream publishing best practice, the idea of hiring an editor or proofreader after publication seems illogical. ‘That’s the wrong way round!’ we cry in dismay. It can go further – some editors’ conversations about self-publishers who’ve made non-traditional choices can extend well into to realms of snobbery and condescension. Instead, all editors should be thinking in terms of opportunity. After all, we’re the very people who can assist the author.

So why do some self-publishers take a non-traditional approach to the publication process? The reasons are numerous and include:

  1. Lack of publishing knowledge
  2. Budget
  3. Fear of being judged, or of the book being damaged
  4. Lack of knowledge regarding standard spelling, grammar and punctuation
  5. Different expectations
  6. Impatience
  7. Poor experiences with prior editors

Considering these reasons can help us to communicate effectively and respectfully so that self-publishers feel confident in hiring us and able to shift the order of things in any future publishing venture.

Showing understanding; offering solutions

If an author is seeking my services post-publication, they’ve already decided there’s a problem. Perhaps they’ve received critical reviews that praise the plot but damn the punctuation. My job’s not to tell them that something needs fixing – someone’s already done that. My job’s to demonstrate that I understand the problem and know how to fix it.

I frame my initial conversation in terms of zones – the green and the red. When an author’s in the green zone, their readers have enjoyed the book, have left positive reviews, and are ready to come back for more. When an author’s in the red zone, their readers have been frustrated with aspects of the book, have left negative reviews, and will reject further opportunities to engage with the author’s writing.

Readers have different expectations and levels of knowledge – some won’t realize that there are problems with the text, or they will realize but won’t care. Others will care very much and be frustrated by the lack of polish.

Let’s assume for simplicity that the readership is split evenly between those who don’t know or care that there are mistakes or inconsistencies in the book and those who do know and care. Who’d want to alienate 50% of their readership? I tell my authors that by commissioning me they have a much higher chance of staying out of the red zone – simple as that.

Just as valuable is explaining the different levels of editing and how the mainstream publishing process works. Copy-editors and proofreaders (should) have this knowledge, but why should the senior nurse practitioner and the IT consultant who are writing in their spare time?

Bear in mind that the ways in which people can make their writing visible to a large audience have expanded. Take Wattpad – there, writers of all ages, budgets and abilities have equal opportunity to submit their stories. My 13-year-old uses the site to both access and produce content. The culture of Wattpad is about inspiring and supporting, and being inspired and supported. The focus (so she tells me) is on having a go, not having a gripe. For some of our authors, platforms like Wattpad might be their only indicators of what the order of things might be.

By creating content that summarizes traditional editorial routes to publication, we can educate our authors and help them to consider alternative ways of working when publishing via other distribution channels.

Building trust; showing respect for the right to write

I’m not an editor who thinks that some books have no business being published because they don’t meet some prescriptive standard of excellence or literariness. I love the fact that anyone can pour their soul into a piece of writing and make it available to others, whether via Wattpad, a blog, an online bookshop, or a website. I’m glad I live in a time when even if the genre isn’t fashionable, the author’s not a celebrity, or the writing isn’t crafted as well as Dickens’, a writer can still put their stories out there.

By telling our authors that we support their right to write, we can start the journey of building trust. We can reinforce this conversation with content that outlines our commitments. Why? Because in some cases we may be the first editor they’ve spoken to; they may feel vulnerable and out of their comfort zone. Or they may have had poor prior experiences with editors and, consequently, may fear the process.

My preference is to provide potential clients with a professional promise: to do the very best I can, within the agreed budget, to bring clarity and consistency to their books; to be sensitive to and respectful of their words, their voice, and the journey they’re taking; to be mindful of their readers’ expectations; and, above all, to do no harm.

Talking money

So what about the cost? How do we convince the author that the fee we’re offering is worth their investment?

Like most editorial freelancers, I’ve encountered the client who thought they were talking to Wile E. Coyote and that an 80,000-word novel could be proofread in eight hours. And I’ve encountered another who believed it would me take three times as long but that I’d be more than a little thrilled to do the job for less than the national minimum wage.

However, if we’ve succeeded in instilling trust in the author by explaining our ability to deliver the required solutions, half the battle is won. If the author wants to work with us, the issue will come down to whether they have the budget.

It’s important not to take money issues personally. Everyone has a budget – even the client with deep pockets. It’s our client’s right to accept or decline our fee offer, just as it’s our right to stick with or negotiate our proposed fee. Either the two of us will be a financial fit or we won’t. If the author can’t afford us, it doesn’t mean they don’t respect us or our services. It’s just business. Talking to self-publishers means being prepared to wave goodbye and wish them luck.

The nub of it … talking without criticism

Talking about and to self-publishers who search for editorial assistance post-publication requires a tone that focuses on solutions, not criticism. We must respect the reasons why they chose to publish before being edited, and acknowledge that twenty-first-century publishing, in its myriad forms, is a very different animal to that which we might have grown up with. If an author contacts me prior to publication, all well and good. If they get in touch after the event, I’m just as ready to help. That is, after all, my job.

Thank you to Norah Myers for sourcing this guest post.

10 ways for authors to save money on editing

Track ChangesLisa Poisso is a fiction editor and book writing coach working with independent authors and new authors seeking representation. Lisa helps emerging authors tune their manuscripts to publishing industry standards and craft commercial fiction that resonates with readers. Find her at Lisa Poisso, follow her on Twitter at @LisaPoisso, or like her on Facebook. This guest post originally appeared on Lisa’s site.

As an emerging author, you may be frustrated to discover that you shouldn’t follow the lead of experienced authors when it comes to your editing budget and saving money on editing. The editing needs of seasoned authors are much different from those of new authors. Writers at earlier stages of their careers need strong developmental guidance; no amount of copyediting spit and polish will keep readers turning the pages of a lackluster story.

Yet content editing (also known as developmental editing) is the most expensive type of editing. I see you doing the math in your head: The most expensive kind of editing is the most important kind to get for the authors who have the least money to spend and the smallest chance of directly recouping that investment. It’s an unavoidable process. The better the editing you get in the early stages of your career, the more you’ll learn about writing and revision and the faster your story crafting and writing skills will level up.

In the meantime, you’re not without alternatives. Effective ways to save money on editing are well within your reach at every stage of your writing career, which helps you afford the editorial services that benefit you the most.

1) Tell editors your budget up front

Don’t blindly fish for rates and bids when contacting prospective editors. Tell them your budget range right up front, and then send them your manuscript so they can assess your editing needs. Would a manuscript evaluation be a good alternative to a content edit for your book? Is your manuscript strong enough to go straight to substantive editing? Get a sample assessment and talk with your editor.

2) Turn in clean copy

Most editors don’t have set rates for their services; they base their quotes on how much work they’ll have to do to your copy and how long that will take. The sloppier your manuscript is, the higher your editing rate will be. So read through your final draft several times to save money on editing. Run spellcheck. Try a service like Grammarly or EditMinion.

3) Develop your writing skill

If you shrug off the hard work of revisions and rely on an editor to tie up every dangling plot thread and dangling participle, you consign yourself to higher editing rates for the duration of your writing career. Don’t laugh off your errors and leave them for the editor to catch. Learn your business. Hone your craft.

4) Schedule your edits early

Three to six months isn’t too soon to begin finding the right editor you’d like to work with. If you want to work with the kind of editor who applies multiple review processes to your copyedit and thoughtful deliberation to your content edit, you don’t want an editor who’ll return your manuscript in a week. And sure, you could pay rush fees, but those can run to 100 percent or more of a project’s base fee.

5) Choose the right number of editing rounds

Some editors keep costs low by charging by the editing “round”; once they’ve finished that particular draft (no matter how many “passes” they themselves make during the process), that round is considered complete. Paying by the round could save you money unless you hope to go back and forth with your editor over several revisions. In that case, find out if you’ll get a discount for subsequent rounds (this is how I handle things) or, for editors who offer multiple revision rounds in their base rate, how many rounds are included in the price of the edit.

6) Handle the cleanup yourself

Some editors send the edit to the author for review and approval, then make all the adjustments to the manuscript themselves. While this reduces the potential for error, it raises the cost of the edit. To save money, choose an editor who lets you accept and reject your own edits and do your own post-revision cleanup.

7) Try crowdsourcing your proofreading

Once all the editing is said and done, it’s time for one last check: proofreading. Your editor may provide this service; I do not, because I feel that your manuscript needs a fresh set of eyes at this point in the game. You could hire a professional proofreader, but you may be able to save money on editing by farming this out to eager family and friends who’ve volunteered to help. Keep in mind that you’ll need to carefully vet their recommendations; their knowledge of current grammar, style, and usage or storytelling conventions will not always be on target. Ask your editor about reviewing their suggestions as part of your editing followup or for a very low rate.

8) Don’t waste your resources squeezing a lemon

It has to be said: No amount of line or copy editing can fix a clunker with a lifeless story. If your editor recommends stepping back from a final-stage edit like line editing, take heed. And if you’re not sure whether what you’ve written is ready for prime time—or professional editing—investigate with a more affordable assessment like a new author review or a plot checkup.

9) Look for package pricing

Remember that advice about cleaning up your copy in order to get a lower rate? Editors can afford to offer lower prices on subsequent editing services because your manuscript will be in better shape after the earlier edits. You’ll save money on editing by taking advantage of editing packages to get more services at lower rates.

10) Once you find an editor you click with, stick with them

Most editors provide special rates, discounts, or scheduling perks to established clients. I offer an established client discount and the ability to pencil in future edits on my schedule without a deposit until another author wants to book the same dates. Stick with your editor for similar insider treatment.


7 things your editor wants you to know

This is a guest post by Emma Smith. Emma is an editor for Trapeze, a new commercial fiction and non-fiction imprint at Orion. Working on a broad range of titles, from humour, memoir and biography to lifestyle, gift and pop science, Emma commissions on the non-fiction side of the list. She recently won the Shooting Star award as part of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars 2016.

1) You are our star and we are your cheerleaders

We’ve chosen you and your work for a reason. You are not just a content monkey churning out words/pictures! If you feel like that for the whole publishing process then something isn’t right. Publishing is collaborative and we should all be working together as a team to get the best results. Your efforts go hand-in-hand with ours; it’s our role to support, develop and amplify what you’re doing. We’re rooting for you!

2) #Squadgoals

Publication is, and should be, a highly involving process and a team effort. It’s about so much more than the content; it’s the marketing and publicity campaign, the sales team, the social media support, the events… I could go on. Generally, the more you put in the more you get out. Dedication to the project should come from all angles. Dream authors are the ones up for anything (within reason)! Great publishers make it happen.

3) Deadlines schmeadlines?

It’s an oft-quoted myth that publishing deadlines are flexible. Sorry folks, not true! (And if you’ve never heard that before then pretend you didn’t just read that first sentence – don’t be getting ideas.) Yes, there are times when we can be adaptable…. and we are a reasonable bunch. If you think you are going to miss dates, then it’s best to be honest (that goes for us too). However, when things get really critical, it can mean altering print schedules and changing publication dates. There is often a team lined up too (proofreaders, copy-editors, production staff, lawyers, indexers etc.) waiting for work to come in so missing deadlines can have a big knock on effect.

4) Editing

Give yourself good time to go through the edits thoroughly. It helps if you make changes during the allotted stages, rather than making lots of tweaks up until the last possible second!

5) Feedback from submissions

I don’t know a single non-fiction editor who has time to read submissions during their working day. Most (if not all) reading is done outside the office. Therefore, if you have submitted something to be considered for publication, any feedback given is thought through. For the same reason, no need to chase for comments the following day. The number of (solicited) manuscripts we have coming through is huge and it’s impossible to read them immediately. Patience is a virtue.

6) Trust us and talk to us

Your editor is there for you to talk to/tweet at/share ideas/have drinks with, so if you’re unhappy with something, feel free to speak up. However, there’s also an element of trust: publishing decisions (such as on covers, subtitles, inside designs, etc.) are all chosen for good reason and to suit the market. Everyone ultimately wants the best for your book!

7) Fortune favours the brave

Be bold and have fun! Contribute ideas, get stuck in with publicity, enjoy the ride. Being published is an amazing experience and you’ll often find that so many opportunities spring up as a result. Relish it – your work is being born into the world! I think that being an editor is like being a midwife, we oversee, manage and support, but ultimately it’s you who pushes the thing out.


  • 1
  • 2

Get the latest news and event info straight to your inbox


+44 207 183 2399

Incubation at Ravensbourne | 6 Penrose Way | Greenwich Peninsula | SE10 0EW

© 2019 BookMachine We love your books