Focusing on and checking the detail of your text.
Any summary of copy editing will contain some or all of the words consistency, clarity, accuracy and correctness. These are all essential qualities your manuscript needs, and the more mechanical and mundane aspects of copy editing ensure their presence in your work. But just as important are aptness, sincerity and authenticity. Readers — and before them, agents and publishers — need to be convinced of your authority and the truth of what you’ve written by the words themselves. Copy editing helps your writing be its best self.
In a copy edit, I’ll address (but not limit myself to):
- Adherence to an agreed style. From encyclopaedic guides like the Chicago Manual of Style (US English) and the Oxford Style Manual (UK English), to more narrowly focused or idiosyncratic styles for particular fields, publishers and organizations, conforming to a particular set of guidelines affords your text a level of respectability and rigour. Where no style is specified, I can suggest one. And I know when departing from a style guide will do no harm (and even be beneficial).
- Text-based issues: grammar, spelling, hyphenation, punctuation, abbreviations and capitalization.
- Structural niceties and mark-up at textual and document levels: bold, italics, headings, subheadings, lists, paragraphs, tables, figures and illustrations, captions, table of contents, epigraphs, extracts, quotations, footnotes, and so on.
- References and citations. Even for non-academic texts, sources must be correct and presented in a way that aids readers. Academic works should follow a robust referencing system, perhaps including distinct reference and bibliographic sections.
- Framing of arguments. Any exaggerations, misrepresentations, non sequiturs and other indiscretions and slips of thought will be noted and queried so you can clarify, correct and rewrite, restructure or remove if necessary.
- Fact-checking. Names, places, dates and assertions of fact must be correct; when they’re the products of your imagination, internal consistency is key.
- Conscious language. Words have power and writers wield it, regardless of intent. Problems arise when language is racially insensitive, gendered or biased, often unconsciously — and I acknowledge that my editing can be too. Together we can work to prevent perpetuating privilege through language.
- And also: listing items that require permission to use; flagging potential legal issues.
Get it done
Below is a general outline of my working process.
Send me an email, attaching a (word-processed) sample from the middle of your manuscript — enough to show me the level of textual intervention required, around one thousand words. If I think we’ll work together well, I’ll reply with my sample edits, a quote stating the fee, how long editing will take, and when I can start.
If you’re pleased with my edits and agree to the quote, I’ll invoice you for the 25% deposit and agree with you some matters of style. As soon as the deposit is paid, your place in my schedule is secured. Send the full manuscript before our project start date.
After copy-editing, I’ll send you the text alongside a style sheet (a document listing the most significant stylistic decisions). I’ll also include the final invoice.
Within the manuscript file I will have left queries and comments for you to respond to. After answering these, return the file and I’ll complete the editing before I send you the final version.
How much it costs
Every manuscript is different. Word count is important (more words means more to edit), but other factors matter too. The CIEP suggests minimum hourly rates. You’ll appreciate how the number of words that can be edited in an hour could vary. I’ll provide you with a bespoke quotation after I’ve seen a representative sample of your text and we’ve discussed the parameters of the project.