Editing for Authors: Frequently Asked Questions

The idea of working with an editor can feel a little daunting. Hiring a publishing professional to evaluate and improve your work is an important and significant investment in your writing career—and if you plan to write more than one book, it's an investment you'll make more than once.

To help you make an informed choice about the type of editing you need and the kind of editor you want to work with, I've answered the following frequently asked questions.

Do I need to hire an editor?

If you intend to pursue a traditional publishing path, you may not require the help of an editor at all. Many authors have a brilliant grasp on narrative voice and writing technique, and they've landed literary representation or a publishing contract without the input of an editor. That said, competition for publishing deals only gets tougher every year, so the tighter, cleaner and shinier your manuscript, the better chance it has of standing out from the crowd.

Self-publishing authors almost always need to work with an editor. If a polished finished product is important to you—and believe me, it's important to your readers—you'll want to invest in the services of a professional editor.

How do I choose an editor?

The type of editing a manuscript needs will vary from author to author and book to book, and you won't necessarily "click" with every editor out there, so I recommend requesting a sample edit from any potential service provider. Take note of their attention to detail and professional knowledge as well as their customer service and energy.

I offer free sample edits of the first 500 words of your manuscript. This not only helps me understand the type of editing your manuscript needs, but also lets me see if I can add value to your content. You'll want to work with an editor who connects with your material, and I'll be honest with you if I feel your investment would be better made with an editor more familiar with your genre, market or audience.

Can I use editing software instead?

Editing software, such as Grammarly, ProWritingAid and PerfectIt, has a place in modern editing. These programs can catch errors quickly, and they're great tools for authors and editors alike. However, nothing can completely replace the contribution of an experienced editor. We know when to accept automated recommendations, when to ignore them and how to apply them in ways that improve your writing without compromising on those important elements of voice and style.

How do you communicate with clients?

Email, please! This is the easiest, most reliable way to reach me. All documents are shared via email.

Will you answer questions about my edit?

Absolutely. When you receive the edited manuscript, it's a good idea to take some time to review the comments and Tracked Changes. While you're reading, make a list of anything you're not sure about, and send it back to me in a single email. It's normal to have questions about your manuscript once it's edited, and I'm more than happy to talk you through it.

If our discussions evolve into further editing, brainstorming solutions for your story, plotting and planning, or additional writing, I will need to propose a new contract of services before we continue.

What if I disagree with a change you've made to my manuscript?

It is up to you to accept or reject the Tracked Changes I add to your manuscript. Many, if not most, of my edits will be to correct errors and improve prose, and for your investment in professional editing to be worthwhile, I strongly suggest you accept these types of changes. If anything looks odd or you're not sure why I've made a change, please make a note and I'll be happy to explain my reasoning.

However, some of my suggestions may be a matter of style or a prompt for you to consider a different way to express an idea. These types of edits are subjective and recommendations only. As the author, you are the best advocate of your own work, and I encourage you to ask questions about these types of edits. You should feel confident about backing your writing and your choices when it's important to your content.

What editing references and resources do you use?

I use the Style Manual: for Authors, Editor and Printers, the Australian Government Style Manual, The Elements of Style and Macquarie Dictionary Online. I also have a subscription to ProWritingAid.

How much does an edit cost?

My editing rates are listed on my services page but, as noted, these are subject to change based on a sample of your manuscript. If your material requires a significant amount of research or your writing needs extra work, I'll adjust the fee accordingly. I will advise you of the total cost in writing, and you'll need to accept the proposal before we move ahead with your project.

How long will the edit take?

At the moment, my turnaround time is up to three weeks for a 75,000-word manuscript. This is subject to change, and I'll give you an estimated return date before starting on your manuscript. However, life happens and delays do occur. And occasionally, a manuscript requires more work than I originally anticipated. I work hard to meet my deadlines, but I won't rush an edit at the expense of accuracy and quality. If the delivery of your edit is going to be late, I'll let you know with as much notice as possible.

How do I format my manuscript for editing?

I accept electronic files (Word documents) via email only, and prefer manuscripts to be formatted as though they were ready to send to a literary agent or publisher. Sending me your material for editing is a good opportunity to brush up on your understanding of how to prepare your manuscript for submission. Always check the websites of individual agents and publishing houses for specific formatting requirements before you submit to each (they might differ in small or significant ways), but following these guidelines now is a good place to start.

To format your manuscript for editing:

  • save your manuscript as a Microsoft Word document
  • in the Font palette, select a common serif font, such as Times New Roman, in 12-point size
  • in the Paragraph palette, select Left Alignment, First Line Indentation, 0-pt Before and After Spacing, and Double Line Spacing
  • in the Header, insert the title of your manuscript (left side) and your name (right side)
  • in the Footer, insert automatic page numbers (right side)
  • include a cover page with your name and contact details, as well as the title of your manuscript and its approximate word count
  • insert a page break before each new chapter
  • remove any Tracked changes or comments that may be have been attached to your manuscript in previous reviews or edits.

Can you guarantee me a publishing contract? Can you introduce me to a literary agent? Can you turn my first draft into a bestseller?

Oh, I wish I could. Professional editing is a step in the right direction towards these heady goals, but crossing the finish line, my friend, is up to you.

Editing, like writing, is part art, part technique, and while editing will help you make your manuscript the very best it can be, a story that connects powerfully with one person (a literary agent, a publisher, a book reviewer, a reader) may not make much of an impression on another. And that's okay. Like so many things in life, connecting with readers and sharing your stories is a lot like finding your tribe. Somewhere out there are people who will enthusiastically devour your words and then beg you for more. Your first job, however, is to get the words written and written well—and that's where I can help.

Can you guarantee my manuscript will be completely free of errors?

Alas, no. I am human, after all, and even the most popular, bestselling books find themselves marked up in red pen by eagle-eyed early readers gleefully circling mistakes that really shouldn't be there. It's also important to remember that some style choices could be considered errors by one author or editor and not another, so in some cases, "mistakes" are simply a matter of style.

It's my job to remedy errors in your writing, and I take my job very seriously, but I can't guarantee a perfectly clean manuscript. If you're worried about a rogue error slipping through to the printed page—a valid concern for self-publishing authors in particular—invest in a different proofreader as the final gatekeeper before sharing your book with the world.

What are your payment terms?

A services contract, including confidentiality agreement, will be issued to all clients, and clients will be billed immediately upon signing by both parties. Payment terms are 50% of total fee (non-refundable) to be settled before work begins, and the balance settled upon completion of work, before transfer of edited materials.

Rates are quoted and invoiced in Australian dollars, and prices for international customers may change according to exchange rates.

Okay, I'm ready to make an enquiry now. How do I do that?

Get in touch with me here.