Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Order of Operations

I have many clients requesting edits in a sequence that defies my editorial logic, and the only reason is because I've been doing this for so long and have a handle on the process, whereas many others do not. So when I get asked for a proofread in the same line as a request for my opinion on whether the book 'works' or not, I get worried.

Why? Well, essentially because a proofread is the very last editorial function (edit wise) that gets done before going to print. It's meant to catch minor errors, omissions, and any inconsistencies that may have been missed. So if you aren't sure your book is ready yet and are still seeking feedback, don't get a proofread - get a manuscript evaluation or substantive edit. These two edits will give you what you need to improve on your work. A proofread will not.

So, I will quickly outline here what I refer to as the editorial order of operations - the editing stages a manuscript goes through, and in the usual order.

For descriptions of edits, visit my website: www.freelanceeditor.ca.

Editing Order of Operations
  • Manuscript Evaluation or Substantive Edit
  • Line Edit (Stylistic Edit)
  • Copy Edit
  • Proofread

To get a manuscript in near-perfect condition requires hundreds of hours of work. I say near perfect because errors happen and things get missed, regardless of how many millions of books an author sells. It happens. We're human. Being a bestseller does not gurantee a perfect, error-free book.

Many writers aren't aware of the actual hours invested in a published writer's work. If you were picked up by a publisher, your book would follow the order above, with some possible repeats in the sub edit category (which is where the editor works with you to hash out a publishable book, so you could be at that stage 2 or 3 times depending on how well you 'get it' as a writer and how happy you make your editor).

So, if you're looking to hire an editor, at your own expense, be mindful of the process and know that it's an investment. A good editor will charge at least $35 an hour and some go as high as $90.