An Editor For You

There iRich Sellings a lot of talk about self publishing. Everyone in the business of books has an eye on the trends. A less noticed trend is the growth, and the individualization of editing.
Readers have expected, and in many cases found, flaws in self published books. An inexperienced writer often does not realize how many errors an author just can’t see. A missing word in the right place disappears, camouflaged within the brain’s projected reality. Find the error, make changes, and like dominoes falling, another error may occur. It is difficult to publish the perfect book.
Publishing houses with their staff editors do better. Yet even here, perfection is rare.
Every book requires editing by multiple eyes. Preferably experienced eyes.
With the advent of self publishing there are many more authors. Consequently, there is a need for many more editors. That void is filling rapidly, but not everyone who hangs up a shingle has that experienced eye, or even the skill.
I recently spent an hour with a friend who plans to edit contractually. She is eminently qualified, a former life-long newspaper editor conditioned to producing clean, tight columns. She wanted to develop a fee scale. A potential client wanted her to prepare his book so “all I have to do is push a button to publish it” (Wouldn’t all writers like that?). The man said he wanted blue line editing. What is that, my friend wondered. That question is the nub of the issue.
There are many kinds of editing. In a publishing house, there are acquisitions editors who seek out ideas and authors, copy editors who correct spelling and grammar and impose a house style. Design editors will work on layout and organize printing. A project editor shepherds the book through the process.
But in contractual editing, there is so much more. Editing services may involve proofreading (errors in printed text), copy editing (formatting, style, accuracy), line editing (punctuation, grammar), developmental editing, and any combination of the above. With an increase of contractual editors has come an increase in terminology and specific services.
For instance, one editor of my acquaintance offers developmental editing, substantive editing, line & copy editing, and proof reading. In addition, she will contact agents and publishers. Some are book shepherds, who will coach the author from the beginning “brain dump” to the final proof.
The proliferation of authors means more varied demands of editors. Some writers want blue line editing, that is, everything but the content of the work. Others want red line editing, line by line for readability, plot and character development––in depth editing.
Never has it been more important to research an editor before contracting with one. Does the editor’s fee scale resemble those of editor consortiums or organizations? What are the editor’s credentials? Can the editor produce testimonials? Does the editor belong to a professional organization?
In today’s writing world, there is an editor out there for every author. And…every author should find an editor.


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