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Finding Your Own Professional Editor
Author: Gary Kessler
If you have sufficient training and talent to be publishing your book or article, you really should not need to engage the services of a professional editor before you submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher.
The strength of your writing and ability to tell a story should shine through minor content and style problems in your manuscript, and traditional publishers have editors of their own to polish the manuscripts they contract to publish.
However, there may be situations where a pre-submission edit is appropriate:
With the current deluge of well-written manuscripts in the publishing market, agents and publishers do, indeed, expect work to be more highly polished than ever before.
So, what can you do if you think your manuscript needs an edit?
You can find a fresh set of eyes to review your manuscript. Ask literary or well read friends to read your work, make suggestions and point out possible grammar, spelling, and punctuation problems. Or ask for recommendations from other authors, local publishers or university creative writing programs.
You can also find editors listed in the publishers bible of publishing services, The Literary Marketplace. This large, two-volume set published annually is available in the reference section of most public libraries. Or, with a wary eye, you can do an Internet search for editorial help.
Finding Editorial Services Online
Reliable editorial services that can be contacted via the Internet include:
Choosing the Right Editor
When editor hunting, pay attention to the type of editor you think you need and the credentials and experience in working with books similar to yours of the editors you are researching.
Book and journal/magazine article editing is a specialty. The publishing industry has highly specialized style and format preferences that dont match college-level English rules. Someone who is a college English teacher or a technical or newspaper editor may not have the right qualifications to be editing for the book publishing world.
In addition, the different genres and categories of book publishing are specialized. Look to engage an editor who has demonstrable editing experience in the appropriate genre or category.
What Type of Editor Do You Need?
The type of editor you need depends on what you need done with your manuscript:
Learn From Your Editor
If you do bite the bullet and pay for any type of edit, spend a good deal of time examining what was done in that edit. Try to observe and absorb the restyling the editor did of your work; you should be able to work these techniques into your next work yourself.
How Much to Pay
Book editing, like many businesses, has an unregulated, what the market will bear payment structure. However, publicized rate structures are often significantly more than what editorial services are willing to work for - and most certainly more than publishers pay for these services.
Private clients should be able to find a good editor by offering payment within accepted ranges. Claims of $40/hour and $60/hour pay structures are common. But academic and small publishers generally pay $15-$20/hour for regular copyediting, while larger trade publishers pay $18-$25/hour. Publishers generally pay $22-$27/hour for substantive editors.
Ghost writers are usually paid by the book, and their payment is often indexed to the projected sales of the book (which itself is often indexed to the existing celebrity of the author).
The general copyediting rate is considered to be seven or eight pages (depending on the condition of the syntax) of standard manuscript copy per hour.
A standard manuscript page is considered to be:
Estimating Editing Costs
To estimate how much your edit should cost, divide the number of standard manuscript pages by both seven and eight, which gives you a range of the estimated number of editing hours, and multiply by the hourly rate. Most editorial services will add three or four hours to the time to cover the preparation of general notes. They will negotiate who pays for delivery costs if hardcopies need to be exchanged.
Copyright 2003 Gary Kessler. All rights reserved.
Gary Kessler, a frequent contributor to the WritersNet discussion board, is a novelist and freelance book editor who has edited more than eighty-five published books for some twenty traditional publishers since 1997. He has worked inside both trade and academic publishing houses and has released books of his own in traditional publishing, POD-production, and electronic publishing forms. He is the editor of the two-volume WritersNet Anthology of Prose, which was released in 2002. Garys previous career was with the U.S. Governments foreign media news agency, for which he served in embassies in East Asia and the Mediterranean and also served as the news agencys managing editor. He provides writing and publishing tips for authors on his professional website at www.editsbooks.com.
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