Getting ready for Editing

As a freelance editor, I work with a lot of self-published or private authors. I’m here for you, but there are a few things you can do to prepare your work before engaging editing services.  But first, let’s talk about what an editor can do for you.

Most generally, there are three ‘levels’ of editing: substantive, copy, and proofing. Substantive editing reviews the overall structure of the work. This ensures everything is clear, logically thought-out, and comprehensive. The substantive editor will also work with the author to develop characters, plot, and setting as necessary. This is the largest step and can involve significant rewrites.

Copy editing is more in line with what authors expect from an editor. Copy editing highlights linguistic errors (spelling, grammar, and punctuation, etc.), reviews consistency in word choice and styles, and identifies any copyright issues.

Proof reading is essentially the ‘final sweep’, though this can happen multiple times throughout the process, ensuring that the printed publication or digital file is correctly laid out (page numbers all correct, consistency in fonts and margins, for example).

Authors I work with typically need copy editing services. To prepare your work for copy editing, consider these things:

  • Choose your dictionary. You’ll know whether you’re writing in US or UK English, but you might not know that sometimes even the local dictionaries disagree. My tomes of choice are Merriam-Webster and Macquarie.
  • Choose a style guide. This isn’t always necessary, but sometimes grammar is less a rule and more a consistent choice. If your dictionary doesn’t help, your style guide can. The Chicago Manual of Style is great for US English (though I think it’s becoming more widely used now), while the Style Manual is the Australian government standard.
  • Spell check (and proof read). Use your office program’s spell checker, or run your document through online programs like ProWritingAid or Hemmingway. These will identify obvious issues that you can correct easily. They’re also great for other things, like grammar and style, however they’re not perfect and no replacement for human intervention.

If you can do these simple things you’ll save us both time and money. If I’m not spending time on the obvious things, I have more to spend on the big things.