Connie Anderson had provided outstanding editing and mentoring for my website, for my book and various other writing projects. When I discussed the possibility of self-publishing my book manuscript, Living in the Wake of Addiction: Lessons for Courageous Caregiving, she gave me the confidence to self-publish, promising to share all her connections to graphic designers, printers, and the rest of the “to-do” list that is part of the self–publishing process. After reading my manuscript, she encouraged me to craft the Lessons from my book as pull-outs from the text so all of my “gems of wisdom,” as she called them, would not get lost for the reader. As someone unfamiliar with “recovery jargon” she also encouraged me to include the Glossary of Terms to help the general public digest the language of the addiction-recovery field.
With her editorial expertise and guidance she helped me create a book that became more than a memoir; it became a self-guiding manual for professionals and loved ones who are in a relationship with those experiencing addiction disorders. You will get much more than an “editor” with Connie. She is not only an excellent wordsmith, but has the creative genius to guide her client’s so their finished product is not only unique to the author’s voice, but is also the absolute best that it can be. She also keeps to deadlines and maintains a wonderful sense of humor through it all. This was an important “perk” for me on my self-publishing journey.
—Gloria Englund, author of Living in the Wake of Addiction: Lessons for Courageous Caregiving www.RecoveringU.com
Answers for Authors of Fiction and Non-fiction Books
Q: What is a new author’s No. 1 mistake?
A: That’s easy. Feeling they should know everything, and by asking, they’d show they don’t (they’d show their lack of savvy, knowledge, and connections). Sadly this is the biggest way for authors to get in trouble, costing them time and MONEY–lots of it.
Find a local writers’ group, talk to other authors. Email addresses on web sites make that easy.
Asking is the right thing to do. Pretending you know everything means you are open to making decisions not right for you. You can be taken advantage of, either by your “ignorance,” or by working with the wrong person. Don’t go it alone.
Q: Why do I need an editor?
A: The right editor for your project means you benefit from her expertise, judgment, and attention to detail. This person is an important member of your team to get the best book possible.
The editor should advocate for you, the writer, and for your reader, helping you focus your message to the appropriate market. If your editor says: “This isn’t clear to me,” assume it needs work. If you have used too much jargon, for example, she will point that out.
Q: Does the editor I select need to live near me?
A: Not these days—with email it is easy to send Word documents worldwide. My last out-of-state client was in McComb, Mississippi, and out-of-country clients were in Edmonton, Canada and Israel.
Q: Can I ask you to edit a few pages so I can see how you work?
A: Absolutely. And I will tell you whether your manuscript fits my skill level and experience. I edit general fiction and all non-fiction—I do not edit mystery, thrillers, or romance, for example.
Email me: Connie@WordsandDeedsInc.com
or call 952-835-4731 Central time zone
Q: How do I prepare myself to be edited? I have worked hard on this manuscript and am not quite ready for someone to tear it apart.
A: If you trust the editor you have chosen, you will have established a warm and reciprocal working relationship, and you will understand that she wants you to succeed. IF you don’t feel that way, perhaps you have selected the wrong editor for YOU—for this particular genre/book.
Q: What questions should I ask a prospective editor?
A: First, ask other (same genre) authors for referrals. Check this person out and ask for references. This list will give you a strong benchmark in your selection process. Now ask away…
- How long have you been editing? (5 years is a good benchmark)
- Who has published the books you’ve edited?
- What kinds of books have you edited?
- What kinds of books do you prefer to edit? Do you have references? (see Clients Say it Best)
- How do you prefer to edit—hard copy or using software?
- Do you provide an overview of content and flow issues, etc., as part of the finished project?
- Do you want the whole manuscript at once or chapter by chapter?
- How many times do you edit the manuscript? Once, twice, or more?
- When would you have time to edit my project?
- How long do you think it would take?
- How much do you charge?
- May I see an example of your editing?
NOTE: Don’t choose an editor by price alone. Budget the necessary dollars to pay for the best editor for your book, and remember that it could involve two or more rounds of editing. Expect realistic turnarounds from your editor and don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
Q: What are the different kinds of editors, and what do they do?
A: The three levels of editing are:
1) Light (proofreading)
2) Medium (copyediting). Here the editor removes wordiness, redundancy, reads for flow and accuracy and clarity
3) Heavy (substantive). At this level, the right editor can really help your book “work,” help you with suggestions about tone and emphasis. She may even suggest you rewrite sections if need be. This process is the most time-consuming and costly.
Q: How do you charge?
A: I charge the same for all levels ($55 an hour) but some editors charge a higher rate for substantive editing, as it requires extra effort, attention, and expertise. Generally a double-spaced manuscript page has 350-400 words on it. I average 10 pages an hour minimum—unless it needs a lot of work! Thus you can get a rough idea of the cost for the first edit. However, after you make the changes and clarify things, I need to edit it a second time (and third if more major changes)—so plan on that for your budget.
Example: 70,000 word document = (350 words per page average) 200 pages
(Estimate) 200 pages divided by 10 (10 pages per hour) = 20 hours
20 hours x $55 = $1100 1 time through
If you prefer, estimate my work based on $5.50 per manuscript page of average 350-400 words.
Q: Is hiring someone to only “proofread” my manuscript enough?
A: This is a very light version of editing, and checks only for spelling and punctuation mistakes, grammar and syntax errors, and of course inconsistencies. This person is the last in the chain before your manuscript goes to formatting. Whenever I edit a project, someone else needs to proofread it because if I didn’t catch something, this new set of eyes will.
Q: What is the most common mistake that most authors make?
A: Thinking that their publisher will edit the manuscript. In truth, the big publishers are spending less time and certainly less money on content editing, so if what you submit needs a lot of work, you will likely end up eliminated from consideration immediately. And IF you decide to publish the book yourself, you have total responsibility for how your book reads.
Magazines and newspapers have a very short shelf life, however, books can be around for a long time.
Q: What can happen to a badly written (or unedited) book?
A: Several things, and none of them good. Embarrassment in print can stay around a very long time!
- Often it is rejected immediately
- Reflects horribly on the author
- Reflects poorly on the publisher
- Indicates the author doesn’t respect his or her readers’ intelligence
- If published, may not be reviewed, or reviewer may comment strongly on editing issues
Q: What should I look for when I am self-editing before my professional editor receives my manuscript?
A: Here’s a short list to start with:
- Overuse of certain words (do search/find)
- Changing names or facts about characters (name, hair/eye color)
- Overuse of prepositional phrases, leading to wordiness
- Misuse of the word “only”
- Incorrect word usage, e.g., heel/heal; their/there/they’re; write/right/rite, etc.
- Punctuation errors
- Personal writing style “gremlins”
- S p a c e s (e.g., using two spaces instead of one after periods)
- React to every green and red squiggle on Word (Word is not always right, but check it out)
- Refer often to your reference books: dictionaries, thesaurus, grammar books, style guides, and others
A recent client wrote an amazing historical fiction but, as I was editing, I noticed he introduced a new character without telling us who it was. It was the same character, but the author accidentally gave him a “new name.”
ALWAYS: Read your copy out loud to allow your ears to hear things that your eyes don’t see.