© K M Harvey | Athena Copy 2016/17

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Frequently Asked Questions

This is where you will find the answers to the questions that I am asked most often. If you have a query relating to proofreading and/or editing that has not been answered here or elsewhere on my website, please do not hesitate to contact me.

antique typewriter

What is line editing?

Editing is the preparation of written material for publication by correcting errors, making the content clearer and more effective, or otherwise modifying it.

According to nybookeditors.com, line editing addresses: 

 

"the creative content, writing style, and language use at the sentence and paragraph level. But the purpose of a line edit is not to comb your manuscript for errors – rather, a line edit focuses on the way you use language to communicate your story to the reader. Is your language clear, fluid, and pleasurable to read? Does it convey a sense of atmosphere, emotion, and tone? Do the words you’ve chosen convey a precise meaning, or are you using broad generalizations and clichés?

 

An editor may draw your attention to:

  •  Words or sentences that are extraneous or overused

  • Run-on sentences

  • Redundancies from repeating the same information in different ways

  • Dialogue or paragraphs that can be tightened

  • Scenes where the action is confusing or the author’s meaning is unclear due to bad transitions

  • Tonal shifts and unnatural phrasing

  • Passages that don’t read well due to bland language use

  • Confusing narrative digressions

  • Changes that can be made to improve the pacing of a passage

  • Words or phrases that may clarify or enhance your meaning."

This is in keeping with my interpretation of the term.

What is copy-editing?

According to the SfEP:

"Copy-editing takes the raw material (the 'copy': anything from a novel to a web page) and makes it ready for publication as a book, article, website, broadcast, menu, flyer, game or even a tee-shirt.

The aim of copy-editing is to ensure that whatever appears in public is accurate, easy to follow, fit for purpose and free of error, omission, inconsistency and repetition. This process picks up embarrassing mistakes, ambiguities and anomalies, alerts the client to possible legal problems and analyses the document structure for the typesetter/designer."

A copy-editor will check that the copy is complete, look at the grammar, punctuation, style and spelling, whilst also considering the wider perspective. The many tasks involved in a comprehensive copy-edit aim to ensure that you have a document which is:

"clear, correct, coherent, complete, concise, consistent and credible – the seven Cs of editing." (SfEP)

What is proof-editing?

My Proof-Edit package provides a comprehensive line and copy-edit followed by a proofread once the author has made their final changes to the copy.

 

The term 'proof-edit' can also be applied to a combined edit/proofread in a single pass. In the growing non-publisher market the lines between the traditional editing and proofreading roles have become blurred. Often a client will think that they want a proofread when what they actually need is a copy-edit.

 

When budgets do not exist for multiple rounds of editing, a proof-edit is the next best option. Your editorial professional will look at the document, listen to your needs and use their experience and expertise to come up with a brief and a budget which combines elements from editing and proofreading, a hybrid editorial solution that is individual to your needs.

It lacks the final check after changes have been made though, so it is advisable to ask someone to read through your manuscript before you publish just in case errors have crept in. 

What is proofreading?

In its purest sense, proofreading is the last part of the editing process. It is carried out when the document is in its publishing format after the text has been edited and corrected. The proofreader works on the final 'proofs'. The SfEP describes the proofreader's role as:

"Page proofs or draft web pages are usually the last chance to see everything – words, footnotes, images, graphs, tables – integrated with the design before going public. Now the work is largely fixed and changes have to be limited.

The proofreader uses care, judgement, skill, knowledge and experience in checking that the work of author, editor and designer/typesetter is satisfactory, marking amendments and advising the client of problems with the aim of optimising the result while minimising the cost of production and delay to publication."

Traditionally, any editing at the proofreading stage is extremely light because the document is in its final format and any changes will be costly, in terms of time and money.

How long does it take?

How long your project takes will depend on what your requirements are and the word count.

An approximate guideline for work rate:

 

  • 2,500 words/hour if your work has already been copy-edited, is text only, in its final format for publishing and requires a straightforward proofread,

  • 1,300 words/hour  for a line and copy-edit on a straightforward manuscript with minimal characters which requires no research,

  • 700 words/hour if you want a line and copy-edit on a manuscript requiring intensive consistency and fact checking.

The process will always be quicker if other objective eyes have looked over the text before it is sent for editing/proofreading.

How much does it cost?

The cost will depend on the word count, your choice of package, your brief and your manuscript's current state of readiness. A guideline price range is given for The Proofread, The Edit and The Proof-Edit

We will work out your bespoke quote based on an understanding of what is needed and what is realistic. The information required to reach that understanding is laid out on the Get a quote page.

Payment is usually accepted via direct bank transfer, Paypal is also an option.

Making use of objective readers to pick up on the more obvious errors, prior to sending your text for editing/proofreading, will help to minimise time and costs.

Can you get me published?

No. I cannot get you published.

It is my role to ensure that your manuscript is the best that it can be. I aim to help you produce a book that is of equal editorial quality to one that has been published by a traditional publisher.

By hiring me to edit or proofread your book, you will be giving your story the best opportunity to shine without the distractions of typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and inconsistencies.

I can help you to format your manuscript for self-publication.

But.

I cannot get you published.

Can you guarantee perfection?

No. It would be unethical to claim that I could. I aim for perfection but there are two reasons why I cannot guarantee it:

  • Perception. What one person perceives as correct can differ from what another person will perceive of the same situation. I will be following a style that has been agreed between us but somebody else reading the text may be familiar with a different style, have grown up in a different part of the English-speaking world, have learned their grammar in a different era, be used to a different format, prefer a more formal tone ... the possibilities for subjective disagreement are endless.

  • Multi-layers. The publishing industry has always employed different editorial professionals at several stages of the publication process. They don't incur this cost for the fun of it, they do it because it is necessary. The more pairs of objective eyes that have read over a document, the better chance there is for every layer of potential error to be fully scanned and corrected. When juggling typos, punctuation, grammar, format, style, legal issues, consistency, illustrations, fact-checking and a myriad of other tasks, it is highly plausible that something minor could be missed. This is why a proofreader would usually follow up the structural editing, copy-editing and revision stages.

I set out what I can promise on the What I promise page.

Can you write my book for me?

Yes. Technically, this falls outside of the editing and proofreading remit and is called 'ghostwriting'.

The copyright would remain with you and we would work out a mutually acceptable deal for how I get paid for my creative input and what level of public recognition I get for my work.

Ghostwriting is expensive with costs ranging from approximately £5,000–£30,000 depending on the project. None of my other editorial services come close to incurring this level of cost.

Do you do re-writes?

Yes. I can re-write text for better sense, format, and consistency of style and content.

Re-writing falls within the remit of line editing and is more time consuming than proofreading and copy-editing.