I am comfortable with doing substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading (if you don’t know what these are, see below) of certain kinds of fiction (not erotica, porn or inspirational romance, and not poetry) and any non-fiction which doesn’t deal heavily with mathematics, though after two years of Psychology at Melbourne University I understand the principles of statistics.
With my help, Year 11 and 12 students and University students have improved their marks by approximately 10%. This may not sound like much, but it translates to a grade difference. Aspiring writers have achieved a more professional level and become more effective writers. Please note: I don’t do your work for you! Sorry.
Substantive editing (also called structural or content editing) ‘aims to ensure that the structure, content, language, style and presentation of the document are suitable for its intended purpose and readership.’
This means that a structural editor editing fiction will be looking at things like characterization (hence remarks like, ‘Your heroine is described as very stubborn, but she gives up all the time), plot (‘I feel the climax happens too early’) and point of view (‘the story’s told from John’s point of view to page 55, then we have it told from Mary’s point of view for a few pages, and then it’s back to John for the rest of the book’).
An editor reading nonfiction will consider things such as readability (‘since this is meant for a popular audience, could you summarise the finding and put the statistics into an endnote?’) and whether or not an argument appears adequately backed up.
Copyediting ‘aims to achieve accuracy, clarity and consistency in a document. It does not involve significant rewriting, providing a single authorial voice or tailoring text to a specific audience’. This involves grammar, eliminating redundancies, checking the spelling of names, checking quotations, and so on.
Proofreading is done after the typesetter has finished putting the text into its final form (i.e. it now looks like a book) and before it goes to the printer. It ‘involves checking that the document is ready to be published. It includes making sure that all elements of the document are included and in the proper order, all amendments have been inserted, the house or other set style has been followed, and all spelling or punctuation errors have been deleted.’
Like all things in life, these distinctions can blur. For instance, a content editor often can’t resist doing copyediting, and a conscientious and kindly proofreader might note something the content editor overlooked.
All quotes are from the website (http://iped-editors.org) of the wonderful Institute of Professional Editors Ltd, which I’ve quoted because (a) I’m lazy and (b) they’ve spent a lot of time and expertise trying to get them right.
At present, I charge $50 an hour. If you’ve no idea how many hours might be needed on your manuscript, you can either say, in effect, ‘Give me $300 worth and stop then’; or you can send me the first chapter or first 50 pages and I can edit that and provide you with an estimate. Note that I would require payment for this.
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