Q. What is a copyeditor?

A. A copyeditor is your partner in polishing your manuscript in preparation for publication (fiction, nonfiction, journal articles). She can help make the difference between an agent or editor dropping your work in the slush pile, or continuing to read beyond the first five pages.

Your copyeditor reads your work thoroughly, line by line, checking for more than just spelling and grammar mistakes. She ensures that your characters remain consistent throughout the story, that the setting and plot details are plausible, and that your voice and style are consistent to the end.

Q. Do I need a copyeditor?

A. If you’ve already got an agent or publisher, you probably don’t need to pay for an independent copyedit unless they’ve asked you to. But if you have just begun the process of searching for an agent or publishing house to accept your work, you would undoubtedly benefit from having an independent, professional pair of eyes closely examine your manuscript. If you are self-publishing your work, you certainly need to have a professional copyedit performed.

Examples of how a copyeditor can help your manuscript:

  • She ensures that your character doesn’t have brown eyes on page three and green eyes on page 153.
  • She helps keep the details of your fantasy world consistent, such as the types of magic used and the methods for invoking spells.
  • She keeps an eye out for anachronisms in historical fiction, such as technology or slang that did not exist in the period portrayed.
  • She points out that a horse can’t gallop for twelve hours straight, so your characters have to take breaks while travelling.
  • She keeps your narrative from slipping into third person when it began in first, and points out instances of “head-hopping.”

Q. Is copyediting the same thing as proofreading?

A. No. Copyediting happens before the manuscript is typeset in preparation for printing. Proofreading, as we use the term, involves a typeset manuscript that is otherwise ready for the printer. Proofreading includes reading through the manuscript for spelling and punctuation errors (typos), and looking for widows, orphans, and rivers (formatting errors).

Q. Why don’t you post your rates on your website?

A. Each manuscript is unique, and each requires a different level of effort and amount of time. We prefer to see the manuscript before we provide a rate quote, so that we can judge the level of editing and amount of time it would require. For an idea of current market rates for publishing-related services, please visit the Editorial Freelancers Association website.

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Q. I’ve already done some formatting of my MS Word document. Can you just clean it up so it will meet the print specifications?

A. No. We use Adobe InDesign for typesetting, which was designed for this task and produces a much more professional result than a word processor such as MS Word.

Q. Is it better to design the ebook or print edition first?

A. In most cases, it’s better to design the print edition first. When we export a print edition file to ebook format, some elements from the print edition can be carried over to the ebook edition to maintain a consistent style.