FAQs About Editing, Critiquing, and Reviewing

The Basics

Starting Your Project spells out what you can expect from me and what I hope for from you.

Editing describes the various editing packages and how much I charge for any of my services. If it's not listed, ask, I'm sure we can arrange something.

Editing

I’ve got spellcheck on my computer, why do I need a proofreader?

Why should I spend my money on an editor?

Why should I hire you when so many others are cheaper?

How can I tell if an editor is any good?

What is the difference between editing, line-editing, copyediting, and proofreading?

What is the difference between editing and critiquing?

What is a style sheet?

Will you make sure it’s okay for my book to use excerpts from other people’s writings, photos, or lyrics?

Do I need an editor or a manuscript assessor (critique)?

What genres do you edit?

What genres don’t you edit?

What is the difference between the developmental editing and the text editing packages?

What about the difference between developmental editing and a critique?

Do I need to sign up for a whole package?

What is technical writing?

Do you edit submission packages for publishers and agents?

How much does it cost to edit a manuscript?

Will my work find a publisher after you have edited it?

How do you estimate how long it will take to edit a project?

What file format should I use for my manuscript?

If I choose the Basic rate, is there a discount if I want to continue to work with you?

Once I make the changes in my book from the feedback you provide, will you proofread the changes?

Can I mail you a paper version of my manuscript?

How do I format the manuscript for editing or assessment?

How do I pay you?

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eBooks

Do I need an ISBN for an eBook?

Do I need a barcode for an eBook?

What if I want both an eBook and a printed version?

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Copyright Issues

How do I protect my copyright?

Who owns the copyright on my book?

What is DRM?

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I’ve got spellcheck on my computer, why do I need a proofreader?

Spellcheck only looks to see if the word is spelt correctly. It doesn’t care about context nor will it determine if it’s a noun or verb or … It will accept sentences such as I got the breaks fixed on the car, Ma or it sure is reigning hard out there or we got a electrical problem. It definitely doesn’t check that the verbs or pronouns agree in a sentence nor that the punctuation is accurate. I’ve not found one software program yet that can do even an adequate job of checking grammar, punctuation, formatting, or context.

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Why should I spend my money on an editor?

It is natural for an author(s) to get too close or too familiar with text or distracted by creating clean, working text. I bring a fresh eye to text which has been overworked or overlooked by its original writers and developers or has been around for so long that some degradation has occurred in the text.

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Why should I hire you when so many others are cheaper?

Each submission is read through — word by word — a minimum of three times. I do not use editing software. Using such software means the editor you hired is not looking at your words and discovering inconsistencies that are dependent upon context. It doesn’t care if Jeff was blond on one page and a brunet on another. Consider how often Microsoft Word fails to find a misspelled word or thinks a word is just perfect in the wrong place. Sure, their services are fast and cheap. They also miss a lot of problems.

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How can I tell if an editor is any good?

Ideally, you should send 10 pages of your manuscript to three to five different editors and ask for a sample edit. Look over their suggested edits. See who has caught what. What comments have they made. This should give you an idea of their expertise and how compatible the editor may be with your style. Be warned. It also gives an editor the opportunity to see how much work your manuscript may require.

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What is the difference between editing, line-editing, copyediting, and proofreading?

These are the four levels of editing: content editing (which is also known as developmental or substantive editing), line-editing, copyediting, and proofreading. All levels are concerned with maintaining the author’s voice throughout. It’s your story, it must be in your voice.

For a quick visual, open Quick Visual of 4 Levels of Editing.

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This level of editing is the first and heaviest level and concentrates on the structure of the manuscript, the writer’s style, and the story content, looking for particular problems. S/he may recommend substantial changes in the entire manuscript. An editor may rewrite whole paragraphs or sections to create a smoother, more logical flow of events and/or make the text easier to understand. S/he may recommend substantial changes in the entire manuscript. An editor may rewrite whole paragraphs or sections to create a smoother, more logical flow of events and/or make the text easier to understand. Weaknesses in character and plot development are identified — plot events and characters, their dialog, their behavior, must be plausible. Consistency in tone, point-of-view, and story continuity are assessed. The language used in the story as well as by each character is analyzed to help ensure your readers will believe in them, in your story. As well, it ensures that the words used are appropriate for the genre audience. An editor will also ensure that the layout of the text is usable by your reader.

You instinctively begin content editing as soon as you begin to read back over your work and make changes. What a developmental editor does for you is bring detachment to the table. S/he is not emotionally invested in your story. S/he’s looking at it for the first time, which makes it easier for them to see the plot holes and the weaknesses in the characters and the plot development.

The content editor will also be concerned with the same tasks as a line-editor or copyeditor. Click to view a sample of content flow and a usable layout

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Line-editing is concerned with individual lines, the sentences, with reducing the clutter of words, with making all those changes the content editor suggested fit with this new version of the story. Where the content editor will rewrite or note flow issues, the line editor simply makes a note of it for the author to address. Dialog is examined for how believable it is for that character to be “speaking” that way. Does it help the plot go forward? A line editor may rewrite or simply note sentences or whole paragraphs with a focus on grammar, punctuation, and spelling; s/he will also note or rewrite paragraphs that try to contain too many ideas, and s/he will ensure or note if there is a problem of flow from one paragraph to the next. Any loose threads or unresolved issues in the plot are noted.

The line editor will also be concerned with the same tasks as a copyeditor. Click to view a sample of line-editing.

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Copyediting encompasses fact checking, the elimination of passive voice, ensuring proper styling for words that should (or should not) be in uppercase, which words should be in italics, dealing with foreign words and their diacritics, titles of books, songs, exhibitions, and more all have their own peculiarities as do honorifics. There are rules for numbers that should be observed. Words that are wrong for the time period or the dialog are noted — there is no way that dimes were ever in existence in Italy as money. The bugaboos for all writers are clichés, mixed metaphors, and modifiers. Each must be examined for appropriateness. Ensuring consistency for characters, events, and the plot line are always critical. The copyeditor will also be concerned with the same tasks as a proofreader. Click to view a sample of copyediting

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Proofreading is the lightest of editing levels and the last stage in the editing process. It is mostly concerned with the mechanics and appearance of the final text. It’s also the last chance for a manuscript to be examined for errors, and it fixes misspellings, grammar issues, punctuation problems, and checks consistency in case there are any remaining errors. Proofreading is also concerned with how it looks. Behind the scenes, a proofreader will clean up doubles of anything including spaces, periods, and commas. Paragraph spacing is verified, and those naughty widows and orphans are tidied away. Hmmm, just like real life… Numbers for pages, tables, and figures are verified for accuracy and consecutive order. Hyperlinks are also verified and properly formatted per their usage.

I have a difficult time separating these two — copyediting and proofreading — depending on what stage the book is at, so I simply combine them as part of the editing service I offer. Click to view a sample of proofreading.

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What is the difference between editing and critiquing?

In general, an editor will work with you paragraph by paragraph to improve weak areas of your manuscript while a manuscript critique takes an overall view of your manuscript and simply points out the strengths and weaknesses of it. The critique may make general suggestions for improvement(s). Click to view a sample of a simple critique.

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What is a style sheet?

A style sheet sets out the standards of writing and design for your story. It tells me and reminds you how you prefer to spell certain words or which words you have trouble remembering how to spell. Is it Jon or John? Cecily or Cicely? It reminds you how you are formatting numbers or dates: 10 Dec 2013 or December 10, 2013. Which words are open, closed, or compounds. How you prefer to handle possessives which end in an s: Douglas’s or Douglas’. How references and citations should appear. If you use the The Chicago Manual of Style or APA or AP or MLA or Words Into Type. Which dictionary you use to check spellings: Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster… Do you use serial commas or not. Preferences in using that or which. If you prefer straight quotes over curly quotes or vice versa. All that and so much more.

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Will you make sure it’s okay for my book to use excerpts from other people’s writings, photos, or lyrics?

The author is responsible for obtaining any necessary permissions from the original source’s publisher for reprinted material including, but not limited to: song lyrics, photos, poems, newspaper articles, or text. Any such material exceeding 10 percent of the original source’s word count exceeds fair use.

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Do I need an editor or a manuscript assessor (critique)?

That is completely up to you. A critique may serve as an assessment of whether your story is on track or careening off the rails. It points out weaknesses and strengths which can help you decide if you need help with content, sentences, copyedits, or simply to grab that proofreader before you publish. Click to view a sample of a critique.

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What genres do you edit?

My preferences are for historical, current, or future settings in mysteries, romances, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, military science fiction, suspense, action, and, to a lesser extent, mainstream fiction. I also edit technical writings.

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What genres don’t you edit?

I don’t do poetry, Christian, contracts, requirements, or scripts for movies, videos, or theater.

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What is the difference between the developmental editing and the Basic editing packages?

Developmental editing is hourly, and there is no restriction on the number of times the manuscript passes between us. Basic I and Basic II check for accuracy and consistency of facts and words, punctuation, proper grammar and word usage, and spelling. It also corrects for accepted formatting standards. Basic I is one round of copyediting; Basic II is one round of copyediting and one round of proofreading.

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What about the difference between developmental editing and a critique?

As mentioned above, developmental editing is hourly with multiple rounds and examines your manuscript over and over again, pointing out every detail, every error, every bit of brilliance, every inconsistency. A critique is one round that assesses in a general way the problems found within the manuscript. The critique will provide examples of poor grammar, misspellings, incorrect facts and punctuation, inconsistencies, weaknesses, etc., but does not go into the detail which a developmental edit provides.

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Do I need to sign up for a whole package?

Basic I and Critique are the least expensive options from which a writer can choose as each involves one round of a service. There’s not much point in asking for half of your manuscript or file to be read and commented upon, although since it is by the word or page, Basic I can be employed at any time.

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What is technical writing?

Technical writing is not what most people would consider creative, but it does seek to creatively explain how to do/use/know something and encompasses all of non-fiction, including books, résumés, brochures, reports, websites, manuals, etc. Many tech-oriented writers are too close to their material and leave gaps or provide too much information. With their expertise focused on, usually, a non-writing field, they are more apt to strangle their sentences making it too difficult for readers to use the manual. Eliminating spelling errors, punctuation issues, and more goes a long way toward establishing the writer or business as professional and experienced.

The different types of technical writing includes online and print help manuals; procedural texts such as how to assemble, use, or install a product; multimedia tutorials; documentation for software, engineers, or trainees; website content; presentations; brochures, pamphlets, postcards, hang tags as marketing and advertising materials, textbooks,proposals, ghost writing, grants; guides; articles; letter writing; reports ranging from annual corporate to scientific on through to white papers; thesis papers; and…you get the picture, the possibilities are endless; and, editing forms.

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Do you edit submission packages for publishers and agents?

Of course. It’s text. I edit any text. The same fees apply as for a manuscript.

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How much does it cost to edit a manuscript?

Depending on the depth of the work required, the cost may be per hour for intensive content or line editing or by the page for copyediting or proofreading. The per-word fee varies depending on the total number of words at the time of the initial submission of your manuscript.

There are four editing packages: Basic I, Basic II, Extensive, and Developmental. Basic I is a “starving artist” rate which is a one-time submission. I realize that many authors are scraping by and it can be difficult to raise that kind of money. At the Basic rate, you submit your manuscript one time and I will read the entire manuscript word by word a minimum of three times. Of course, if you choose to work with me again, as a returning client you receive a 10% discount.

See Editing with KD Did It for more details.

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Will my work find a publisher after you have edited it?

No freelance editor can guarantee your book a publisher, however, presenting a publisher with a clean, proofread manuscript increases your chances of avoiding the round file.

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How do you estimate how long it will take to edit a project?

Each project is individual with its own particular requirements. In general, the projects I work on can be divided into hourly and per-project. Obviously, the hourly is much more flexible and highly dependent upon the depth of the research or editing/proofreading/fact checking, and the number of pages involved as well as whether considerable rewrite is required. When reading for work, I slow down to 400wpm — if that helps! Per-project time estimates are not an issue as it is a flat rate unless I am doing a developmental edit.

If your concern is a publishing deadline, a good estimate is between 10 and 25 pages per day. More than that and I tend to get a brain fatigue, which is not promising for catching problems.

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What file format should I use for my manuscript?

Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) is the ideal as it allows both of us to use its Markup Tool during the editing process.

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If I choose the Basic rate, is there a discount if I want to continue to work with you?

Some first-time clients prefer to “test” the waters and choose the Basic rate. Once they realize the value of my help, they come back and receive a 10% discount on all future projects and whichever package they choose.

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Once I make the changes in my book from the feedback you provide, will you proofread the changes?

It all depends upon which package you choose: Basic I does not include a proofreading round although you can engage me to do a proofread at the same rate, Basic II does, Extensive provides a second round of copyediting, and Developmental Editing is its own beast. Instead of charging $35 per hour to proofread the final round, I charge $0.008 per word to proofread — Basic I essentially.

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Can I mail you a paper version of my manuscript?

Yes. When the editing is complete, your manuscript will be returned using the same type of delivery used to send it. The cost of xeroxing the edited manuscript (an easy insurance against it being lost in the mail) and the return shipping costs are paid by the author/agent/publisher.

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How do I format the manuscript for editing or assessment?

Of course. It should be double-spaced with 1″ margins using Times New Roman in a 12-pt font. The project fee will be determined by the number of pages and assume a word count of 250 words per page.

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How do I pay you?

I accept checks and PayPal. Editing does not begin until the initial deposit payment clears.

How do I protect my copyright?

As soon as you create your work in a digital or hard copy format, your work is copyrighted. However, if you anticipate that you may need to sue someone in court and want to better your chances or if you want an LCC, you must register your copyright with the Library of Congress.

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Answers to Copyright Questions

Who owns the copyright on my book?

You. You will always own the copyright on your book.

What is DRM?

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It controls how a reader can use your book after they buy it.

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Answers to eBook Questions

Do I need an ISBN for an eBook?

Yes. Each version you publish of your book, each time you make substantial changes to a book that has already been released requires a new ISBN. The ISBN is used by anyone who purchases books to gain information. Information about the year in which the book was released, who the author is, if it’s part of a series, what kind of binding or media in which it is available. Librarians and booksellers, among others, use it to track their inventory and determine what to buy.

Think of it as a Social Security Number for books. Your children are variations of you and your significant other, yet each receives their own SSN. Their children will also receive an SSN unique to each of them. The same with your books. So, yes, each change of text, of binding, of publisher requires a new ISBN. Seriously consider buying packs of 10!

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Do I need a barcode for an eBook?

No. Barcodes are useful, and many book retailers and wholesalers require them on print books, because they allow automated scanning and point-of-sale transactions. Since eBooks are not physically scanned, you get to save some money.

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What if I want both an eBook and a printed version?

It depends upon your marketing strategy, who your target audience is. It’s much cheaper to release an eBook and test your market. See what the reviews say. If you need to make changes


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Starting Your Project

There is no charge for the initial meeting in which we discuss your editing project and set up the project guidelines including your style preferences and your preferred dictionary.

You provide:

  • A copy of the manuscript, whether it’s a computer file or a hard copy — I can’t determine the fee for your manuscript until I see it
  • Your contact information
  • Any style sheet or guidelines you have created for this manuscript

The project begins when:

  • A nonrefundable deposit of 25% of the fee is received
  • Purchase order is issued, if necessary

I provide:

  1. Marked-up text for editing projects
    • For web content, I provide the page address, the area of the page, and the paragraph and line in which the error occurs along with the suggested correction
    • For editing electronic files, I use text markup which enables you to view the suggested correction and then accept or deny it
    • For hard copy documents, I use a red pencil to emend the text
  2. Finished copy is delivered as an electronic file or the hard copy is mailed to you, ready for your acceptances/rejections
    • If you have employed me as a developmental editor, we will go back and forth with questions, comments, and answers until you’re satisfied
    • If you have chosen the Extensive edit,
    • If you have chosen the Basic II edit, this will occur twice with you having the opportunity to query me and send the rewritten and changed document back to me for a final proofreading
    • If you have chosen the Basic I edit, we’re done or we can start another round of editing which will require another 25% deposit + a 10% discount as a returning client

Project ends when:

  • Basic I ends when I return your manuscript with corrections
  • Basic II and Extensive ends once I return your manuscript the second time
  • Developmental edit:
    • You feel the book is complete and requires no additional editing
    • * You will be billed in weekly increments for the time spent on your project
  • Critique ends when I send my assessment of your manuscript
  • An invoice for final payment is then sent to you
  • Payment, in full, is sent within 30 days of receiving the invoice

Hire a pro!
KD Did It will work with you.

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