Hi, author babes & baes. I'm back this week with another IMPORTANT TOPIC. All the topics I discuss are important, but this is on another level of importance.
In 2014, when I first entered the literary world, one thing I learned very quickly was that the editors who were performing services for many of the black authors were overworked, underpaid, and underdeveloped in a lot of areas. Whatever level of expertise they were given or had, at times, were not indicative of how many manuscripts they'd edited. And, at times, it seemed as though they were doing one round of edits.
Turns out, THAT SHIT WAS TRUE!
Now, this is in no way to make anybody feel some type of way, but I have to tell it how I see it. There's always been a huge argument about what editors should and should not be doing. About how much work is too much for the editor to do, and how much work an author should be putting into their manuscript before and after they receive their first round of edits.
Before we get into all of that, let's talk about the different types of edits/editors and why you need them and how to use them.
The first thing to tackle are the different types of editors.
Line Editors- This person specifically goes line to line in your manuscript and helps you develop your voice, tone, removed wordiness, addresses awkward phrases/patches/sentences, and adjusts the flow of your story, line by line. This type of editor is typically seen in traditional publishing.
Copy Editors- This person handles the grammar. They're the spell-check person. They take on a small part of the line editor's job, but for the most part, it's their job to make sure your story sounds right, the inconsistencies are out of the way, they check for syntax errors, tone errors, etc. This person is more..."grammatically" driven than a line editor.
Content Editors- Or, what I like to call, a developmental editor, will not touch the grammar of your story. This person is almost...a glorified beta reader with more experience and gives a professional opinion versus a biased/reader opinion. This person takes your manuscript by the BALLS and checks for character development, plot holes, and makes sure your story actually makes sense developmentally.
Proofreaders- I can't say this enough. Unless your book has been edited professionally, you don't have anything to "proof", because it is a proofreader's job to catch what the EDITOR didn't catch. Not what YOU didn't catch, but what the EDITOR didn't. This person is the last set of eyes, typically, on a manuscript before sending it back to the author for their review.
These are four of the most common editors used in Fiction Writing.
Now, how do you know what type of editor you need? That's a great question.
I don't care who you are. At the very least, you need a Copy Editor. Some editors have combined skills. It's common to run into a Copy Editor who is also a Line Editor, or vice versa. it's rare, however, to run into a Content Editor who might also be a Copy Editor, because they focus specifically on the content, not the "technical" stuff, in a sense. But, a Copy Editor could also be a Content Editor, and so could a Line Editor. It's also totally possible that all these entities remain separate. So, make sure to ask that before hand.
If you've already gotten the Copy/Line Editor, it cannot hurt to also get a developmental edit. You might not need it if your Copy/Line Editor already assessed/addressed that in your manuscript, but again, you want to know this beforehand so you know what you're getting and what you're paying for.
A lot of this information can also be found in the
but for those of you who do not have it, we're digging deeper into it here. :)
After your manuscript has been edited, your next step should be to have it proofread. Most editors have a proofreader on site, but some, do not, so that's something you'll want to check on to see if you need to find your own.
After that's been taken care of, it's up to YOU, the author, to do the real work. Address the comments, accept/deny changes, re-read until you hate the story to make sure everything you could see was caught, and then send it back. But here's where it gets tricky.
These new-school editors are offering revisions. BUT NOT FOR FREE. They're putting time limits on how long you can have the edits, how long you have to correct before being charged a fee, and what they will & will not be fixing because it's "too much".
Your first job, as the author, is to do a thorough read-through. I'm one of those editors who does charge by the word, but I also charge based on excessive errors, because there are some things YOU CAN fix before sending it off. So, to save me a headache, and you one also, do a thorough read-through before sending it off.
After you've done a thorough read-through, do a fact check. Make sure your storyline and timeline makes sense. If George's parents are 20, and he's 10, his parents had him at 10! I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I'm saying...does that make sense? Make sure everybody is where they should be.
Once you've checked over excessive errors and your storyline/timeline, go through your punctuation. Even if you're not grammatically savvy, you KNOW every sentence has to be punctuated. Nobody's asking you to be a genius or a wordsmith, but you know from common sense, that's a thing.
Now, you've sent it to your editor and he/she goes through it. There's no reason why your editor should turn your manuscript away because you've done a check yourself. If you'd like a guided pre-edit check list, check out our
so you know exactly what editors look for/assess in their edits before/during/after giving you a quote. Again, this will save you some heartache, pain, and DOLLARS BABY!
Let's say for argument's sake you didn't do a pre-check. Your editor has every right to tell you they're not going to address something until you've properly tended to your manuscript. However, that's not an excuse for them not to return to the manuscript once you've handled the business they've asked for.
Now, as far as revisions go, it's your job to go through them. It's your job to accept/deny them. It's your job to make sure that your edits have been properly accepted or denied. It's not up to the editor to make those changes for you.
Now, while I don't agree with authors not getting at least one free revision (Because I typically offer 2), I do think it's the author's responsibility to KNOW BEFOREHAND what they're getting themselves into.
Another very important facet of editing is... CHEMISTRY
Now, let's talk about what that actually means. Have you ever received your edits back and felt as though you had just been slapped across the face? Perhaps you've gone to the doctor, and instead of them saying, "Ma'am or Sir, I'm sorry to have to tell you this", they say, "Well, you got cancer?" There's a way to say things, but there's also a way to receive the things that have been said to you.
One of the largest problems I see with my editing clients, or clients who are using me as their editor for the first time, is that they have been spoken down to by their editor. A lot of these people don't exercise tact, which you would know, had you spoken with them prior to sending your edits.
Chemistry is important in any relationship. You don't want to be with a man or woman who when you lay down with them you feel disgusted. It's the same way with your editor. you shouldn't feel the need to roll your eyes, cry, or even blast them on social media for how they've spoken to you.
There's a simple fix to this. You have to know/understand what you need from an editor, and find someone who can provide it. This is one major reason why I schedule consultations with my potential/new clients because I know what I'm capable of, but do you understand what you need? Do we have chemistry enough that when I tell you something, you see it as me helping, and not as me hating? I won't pretend that there aren't haters in the industry, but again, that's why it's important to know first-hand and beforehand what your editor is even offering.
I cannot speak on anyone else's process, but this is mine.
Consultation. I need to know how much time this is going to take, what you need, what I can provide, and we need to discuss quotes, timelines, and see if we're compatible. (I'll also do an assessment to assure that I want the project or am right for it.)
Once you agree, I send a terms of service agreement outlining exactly what will take place in the process of your edits, and include a tentative rendering date.
Once I begin editing, I start with a developmental edit and do a read-through to get a sense of the manuscript.
I then go back through and handle the grammar along with the developmental notes.
I'll send it back for your review, in which you should read it in its entirety along with the assessment I'll provide.
Once you've combed through your edits, you'll send them back and I'll review them and see if there's anything I didn't catch, you didn't catch, and update any changes made from the previous edits.
I'll then send it to my proofreader, and she will tell me/address whatever was missed.
I'll send it back to you for another review, and you then have the opportunity to send it back one more time.
YOU HAVE AS MUCH TIME AS YOU NEED TO DO THIS.
At the end of the day, it's as much up to you as it is your editor to complete/fix your manuscript. :)
Also, you can pick up the Chicago-Style Manual for writing if you need to really fact check your manuscript.