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Question for more experienced authors

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Looking for guidance on proofreading & editing. I have a novel (~75k words) and I want to have it scrubbed by professional. 

So, I'd appreciate any advice on:

- cost. what is reasonable for proofing? editing?

- recommendations- any services you may have had success with

- above all, how does the process work?


Thanks. I've only been in this group a few days and already can see there is a friendly "spirit" here!

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Foremost - don't  rush it.


Editing by a professional should be the very last thing you do before either Self-publish or submitting to an agent/publisher. A mistake a lot of new authors make is to publish or sub too early.


Once you have written your first draft. Rest it for a week or two. Go back through it, make any adjustments - post sections here on CW or get others to read it (Not family or friends -  they will be too nice.) Do more revision and get it beta read by another writer (again you can do that here - believe me it is worth it). 


By that stage you are getting close to think about looking for a pro edit. There are all sorts.  You might even want to invest in the software program to do some initial editing .  (many writers do).  Shop around. Always get a sample edit done first before parting with any money and be clear about what you want (and don't want) and timescales for them to do the job in. (Grammar checker and Pro Write Aid are two that are popular)


I would suggest googling or looking on YouTube - there are some very good videos on editing - what it is and what it is not and the different types of editing. Good luck.


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Thanks for the feedback. I've done 2nd and 3rd drafts, and left it alone for a a couple of weeks in between, immersing myself into an unrelated project- so I think I'm on track with the suggestions.


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That's hard to do, to let it sit for three months, but SW knows what he's talking about. A couple of weeks is good, but your mind still hangs onto what you think you wrote, which may not be what is actually on paper/screen.


(And then double check all your spelling, so that "you" is "you" instead of "your," like I just did.)

Edited by carolinamtne
removed "r" from "your"
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Editors charge different rates depending on the level of work.


From https://www.wordvisor.com/?p=91 these are the levels from least to most expensive:

  • Level 1: Light Copyediting/Proofreading. 
  • Level 2: Medium Copyediting. 
  • Level 3: Stylistic Editing. 
  • Level 4: Structural Editing. 
  • Level 5: Substantive Editing. 
  • Level 6: Revision Editing. 
  • Level 7: Rewriting.

I have also seen some editors offer:

  •   developmental editing (advises you about the big picture: plot holes or weakness, dialog deficiency, etc)
  •   manuscript critique (least expensive, and tells you which of the above levels you need)

When I approached an editor with a good track record about a 120,000 word MS, the prices was to be $4,000 - $5,000, so I balked.


Based on an industry copyediting website, the range for 75,000 words is $3,500-$7,000, ranging from light to heavy editing.


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Great advice here. The goal is to always present your best & polished work for editing, so your editor can concentrate on important things instead of constantly cleaning up minor issues.


17 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Seriously, I'd put it a drawer for three months.  I really would,


While I agree that setting it aside for a time is good, three months is a rather long time. I suppose it depends on the writer. I think the goal here is to get it out of the front of your mind, but not the back of your mind.


My only contribution to this process would be that after you rest the story for a while, have it read back to you (using something like Adobe read-out-loud). You'd be surprised how much you catch this way. Overused words, awkward sentences, and clunky dialog (among other things) will stand out.     

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Everyone- THANK YOU so much for the thoughtful responses. I've found that reading things aloud makes a big difference. I do see how putting the work aside for a time makes a lot of sense, and that length of time probably varies from person to person. I've found that it took me a couple of weeks plus immersing into a new project to shake loose of the book calling me from the drawer. I think the trick for me will be to wait until it stops calling. I hear it right now, as a matter of fact, so I probably haven't waited long enough. 

Have a blessed day, everyone!

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53 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

The writing part is fun. It's all that fluff that comes after that is so hard

So true! I am deep into fluff right now. Many moving parts. I am grateful for a nimble team.

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10 hours ago, Pete B said:

I think the trick for me will be to wait until it stops calling. I hear it right now, as a matter of fact, so I probably haven't waited long enough.

This is very wise! You need to come back with an eye that's lost your original sentimentality for the story, so to speak. Otherwise you won't see the flaws. @suspensewriter's three months is a lot closer to what I need, personally. 

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On 3/26/2021 at 9:41 AM, Pete B said:

above all, how does the process work?



Most freelancers will have three main options: Content Edit, Line Edit and Proofread.  Content Edit and Line Edit should be done before a proofread.


Content Edit will tell you, overall, the status of your story, where the weak spots are, whether you have a sagging middle, and so on.


Line edit hits grammar, overuse of adverbs and the major technical flaws of your writing.,


Proofread is like a Line Edit.  Or, to be more precise, Line Edit is like a Proofread on steroids.


My suggestion is that you have your beta readers read the manuscript before you do a Line and Content Edit.  I'll explain later.


Usually, you find an editor though a recommendation, or you can just take a risk, and go in blind.  In a lot of ways, it's like going to a doctor or a dentist.  They usually have a price list - per word - of how much you'll pay.  Contact them by e-mail, negotiate how much it'll cost, and then pull the trigger...or don't.  I would shop around for the best price and look at reviews and recommendations before contacting an editor.  Check to see if the editor can get it done according to your timeline.


Send them the manuscript in the format they prefer.  Most of them will do Word or Google Docs.  They typically will do a "red line" edit in the document, so create a copy of your original manuscript before you do as a backup.


Now when you apply edits, understand that there are "technical" edits - these you should do - and "stylistic edits" - those that you might do.  Technical edits are things like, "This sentence makes no sense," or missing commas and so on.  Stylistic edits are the edits that usually have me tearing my hair out and screaming, "How can you kill that paragraph?  That's one of the best parts of the chapter!!!"  Usually, editors will cut down on verbosity and "purple prose," streamlining your story.  This is where things get tricky.  Sometimes the editor is correct, and sometimes they're not.  This is where you go back to your beta readers and have them give you some feedback, so you can make the right  decision.  All style is subjective, and some editors will edit with a particular bias or focus, and hack out stuff that you may love, and that your beta readers may love.  So, just a little helpful advice in this area.


Proofread edits?  Unless you see something OBVIOUSLY wrong, just apply them.  `Nuff said.


Since you've already done a second or third pass, so I'll spare you the whole, "do a second and third pass on your manuscript before you send it out."



Edited by Jeff Potts
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