What does an editor do?
Editing is about making sure that an author’s work says what the author intends it to, that it speaks to its intended readers. This can be as simple as correcting grammar and spelling, but simply changing the structure of a sentence or paragraph can often make the meaning so much clearer. A skilled editor knows how to improve an author’s work while keeping both the intended meaning and the author’s unique ‘voice’ intact.
Editing can be either:
- correcting spelling, punctuation, grammar and typos;
- making suggestions to improve the readability and clarity of the work, for example using shorter sentences or less passive voice;
- removing inconsistencies in the text, such as in content, style or spelling;
- correcting factual errors;
- correcting and standardising references, tables and figures;
or structural editing:
- suggesting ways to present information more clearly, for example by changing the chapter or section order;
- in fiction, looking at ways to make the story more appealing to readers, such as through changes to dialogue, character development or plot.
Proofreading used to mean making sure that the first printed copy – the proof – was the same as the manuscript that had been provided to the printer. It involved correcting typos and layout errors made during the layout for printing. These days, proofreading is usually used to describe simple copy-editing: correcting spelling, grammar, typos and, again, layout errors.
Do I need an editor?
If you want your work to be clear, well written and correct while still being clearly your own work, then hire a good editor. If you think you have a good story-line but the writing may not be quite up to scratch, or you’ve written a thesis and want to make sure that every word reflects the meaning you intend, hire a good editor.
Editing can save you money by ensuring that:
- you don’t have to do a reprint with corrections;
- your communication with clients or the public is not overly long and complex – the message is clear first-time round;
- your credibility and reputation is not affected by a badly written or shoddily presented report;
- technical information is accurate and well expressed, saving costly mistakes.
How long does it take?
How long is a piece of string? It all depends on:
- how long the work is, that is how many words;
- whether research is required to check factual material;
- whether it is technical with lots of diagrams and tables that have to be checked;
- how correct your spelling and grammar are;
- how much improvement the writing needs in terms of clarity, sentence structure, plot development and so on.
Especially with longer works, it is possible to work with an editor over a lengthy period as the manuscript develops. Sharon at In a Word has worked with authors over several months or even a couple of years.
How much does it cost?
Again, that very much depends on how long the work being edited is, and how much it needs to be changed. In a Word charges by the hour. A novel with a fairly simple plot, written in a clear style with few spelling or grammatical errors can take as little as seven or eight hours; a complex thesis or academic book may take more than 50 in total. Please see the Rates page. Again, In a Word is happy to give an estimate.
Can I have a quote?
In a Word gives estimates of the time it is likely to take to edit the work, and the cost of that time. Authors are asked to provide sample chapters or parts of the work from the beginning, the middle and the end, for a sample edit. The estimate points out that the time taken (and hence cost) may be more or less than that estimated, as parts of the work not provided in the sample may be more difficult, or easier, to edit. It usually works out not far off the estimate.
Where a work is in development, it is not possible to provide an estimate.
How is the editing actually done (electronically or on a printout)?
Authors working with In a Word can provide a printed document and ask for hand-written comments and suggested changes to be marked on it.
Usually these days, most editing is done electronically using Microsoft Word which has an excellent ‘track changes’ tool. In a Word is also happy to work in Libre Office, but the track changes function is not as good as in Word. It is important that both editor and author are happy with whatever program or technique is used, and this needs to be established early on in the process.
Does it matter where I live?
No. In a Word works with authors from anywhere, as long as they are able to communicate electronically. And as long as they are happy to pay in Australian currency, into an Australian bank account.
If you do live in Tasmania, especially in the south, it’s always nice to meet over a cuppa to discuss the project.
How will I pay for the editing?
Payment is usually done electronically. Especially with longer works like books and theses, Sharon has found that it’s best to work in instalments. This is so that the author can be sure that she or he understands the editing, and adjustments can be made if necessary, and also so that payment can be made gradually rather than all in one go.
How do I get in touch with In a Word?
Please use the Contact page.