Accessible editing

How, as editorial professionals, we can make our services more accessible to authors.

As editors, we strive to make language clear and concise for the reader. When we work, we work with the reader in mind, ensuring that the narrative works. Writers and authors look to us to do exactly that! A novelist is coming to an editor to make sure that their book is perfect for the reader.

But are we neglecting someone in this? Are we considering the needs of the author, too?

In this blog post, I’ll look at some of the things we can do as editorial professionals to ensure that our services are as accessible to our clients as possible.

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Accessible services

Do you, inadvertently, create barriers for your clients? Do services, such as a developmental edit, mean nothing to the first-time self-publisher? Does a manuscript critique really define the scope of the work?

And as for copyediting? What is copy? I wrote a novel I didn’t copy it

An open book

As editors, we need to ensure that what we offer to our clients is not only meeting their needs but is understandable and accessible to them. How many times have we been asked to “proofread” but, in reality, we know it needs a developmental edit?

Not only must we strive to outline exactly what we offer and how we do it, we need to make sure that the range of services that we offer meets our clients’ needs. For example, I now offer a service that I call beta reading. Others may call it a manuscript review or critique.

Editing can be scary and it can be expensive (more on that later). Beta reading, for example, offers a friendly way for the author to get feedback on their manuscript without the cost and intervention that a full developmental edit would involve. 

It’s also called something that an author might recognise, even a first-time writer. Using terms such as a manuscript critique or assessment adds a level of uncertainty or unclarity that isn’t helpful. Authors know what they can expect. 

On Ko-fi, you can find a checklist of things to consider to make your services accessible.

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Accessible cost

When it comes to professional editing and proofreading, cost is very often the barrier. How do we, as professionals, ensure that we are paid properly but also that our costs don’t prohibit authors from accessing our services. 

We are professionals and, whether we work part-time or full-time, we deserve to be paid as such. However, some of our clients, especially those that are self-publishing, might not have the budgets to afford full edits.

There are a number of things we can do to ensure that our price and structure don’t make editing inaccessible to potential clients. This is not about a race to the bottom.

Firstly, consider the services you are offering (see above!). Can you offer a range of services at different costs that might be more accessible. For instance, you might be able to read and offer feedback at a fixed rate rather than at an hourly rate.

Consider also how you quote and how you invoice. Are you able to split payments, take a smaller deposit or create payment plans?

A blue piggy bank.

Everyone loves a freebie! Are you able to offer anything for free? That could be a sample edit, some resources or a blog. Free things are a great way to show you are aware of your clients’ budgets and can accommodate their needs.

On Ko-fi, you can find a checklist of things to consider to make your costs accessible to all your potential clients.

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Accessible language

When you started editing, was the language of publishing confusing? Did you know your MS from your pilcrow?

How we talk about what we do, whether to a prospective or confirmed client, is important. Yes, we might be knowledgeable about all sorts of grammar and language terms and have intimate knowledge of the publishing process but is all of that important?

A confused looking writer sitting in front of a laptop

Plain English does a far better job at explaining to clients what we are doing or what we have done. For a lot of editorial professionals, clients have English as an additional language. We need to be sensitive to that and understand how our own words impact the writers and authors we work with.

On Ko-fi, you can find a checklist of things to consider to make sure your language is accessible to your clients.

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Accessible websites

Finally, we should consider how accessible we are as editors. Our shop fronts are frequently our websites and our social media profiles. Therefore, just like physical buildings, our digital presence needs to be as accessible as possible.

There are various ways that we can make our online spaces accessible and we need to consider that range of users. Website images need alt text for screen readers, for instance, and there are a range of tools online that can be used to check things such as the contrast between background colours and text. 

A mobile phone showing various social media appreciated

Typefaces and fonts should be easy to read for all users. Stylish typefaces might look fancy but some letters can be difficult to read making it difficult for potential clients to understand you.

Navigation should be simple and lead potential clients to the right information.

On Ko-fi, you can find a checklist of things to consider to make your online presence as accessible as possible.

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There’s plenty that we can be doing to ensure that we, as editorial professionals, remain as accessible as possible. If you have any hints and tips you’d like to share, do please let me know!

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Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Editor and proofreader specialising in LGBTQ+ writing, both fiction and non-fiction.

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