How it works

I know it can seem incredibly daunting when you hand over your manuscript to your editor. You’ve spent hours working away at the prose, carefully selecting each word and building a narrative to engage and entertain your readers.

What is your editor going to do? Are they going to completely rewrite your work, undo all your stylistic decisions and make it their own work? Will you lose your voice?

The simple answer is: no!

Your editor is sympathetic to your manuscript and understands the need to keep the story true to what you want to say. All your editor wants to do is make your narrative as strong as possible and to ensure that the copy is as error free as it can be so that there are no distractions for the reader.

Here’s how I, as a copyeditor, approach working with a manuscript. It should give you an idea about what’s going on when you send your work off to someone.

  1. We agree a budget for the project, if it’s appropriate we’ll agree a focus for your editing and I’ll get as many details from you. I might send you a “briefing” document, or it may be clear from our emails or telephone conversations.
  2. You pay a small deposit for the editing work to commence, then send me the file or files, ideally as Word documents. (We’ll talk about proofreading PDFs in a later blog.)
  3. I get to work on your edit. For this, I’ll be using lots of tools, doing lots of research and tidying up your manuscript.
  4. If you don’t already have one, I’ll also be generating a style sheet so that we can keep all your writing consistent.
  5. It might be that I need to ask you questions while I’m editing. It’s much easier for both of us if you’re aware and keep your eye on your email inbox!
  6. I’ll return the edited file to you with things like: track changes and comments in the text file and maybe a separate queries sheet.
  7. You pay the remaining balance.
  8. If you have any questions, or something doesn’t make sense, feel free to email me and ask! I’m always happy to answer questions.
  9. You make changes to your manuscript and then…

It’s time for proofreading. You have three, maybe four, options:

Option one: You publish immediately. I wouldn’t recommend doing that. You’ve made changes to your manuscript that haven’t been seen by another pair of eyes. Get it checked before you publish!

Option two: Get another proofreader to check. This is good, as you get another professional to look over the manuscript before publication.

Option three: I can proofread it for you. Equally as good, and I am always delighted to see progress with a manuscript.

Option four: Another round of copyediting. There’s some pretty hardcore editing going on! Good on you for wanting to improve some more. But, as with a lot of things, knowing when to stop is the tricky thing.

Proofreading is very different to copyediting and so I cover that in this blog post. Make sure you subscribe to get that – and many other editing updates – delivered direct to your inbox.

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Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Fiction editor and proofreader.

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