I provide…well, careful copyediting. I also provide quick copyediting whenever possible, but my focus is on quality.
“Copyediting” can mean different things to different people. Here is what I do:
- correct all mechanical errors in spelling, punctuation, and usage (I generally use The Chicago Manual of Style, but can easily accommodate other style manuals or guides upon request.)
- ensure that the text will be clear to its intended audience (Will the reader know which “she” you mean?)
- check for inconsistencies, logical flaws, and unnecessary repetition (Sometimes a character puts on a pair of glasses that he smashed in a previous chapter, or a character tells her friend the exciting news–twice.)
- ensure that all manuscript parts are where they belong (For example, are the chapters numbered consecutively? Don’t laugh; this does get missed sometimes–but not by readers.)
- perform light fact-checking (This means that I will do a quick search online if something strikes me as a possible error; I assume that my clients know their subjects better than I do, whether they write about medicine or about dragon shapeshifters. For historical novels, I often check the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure a particular word was in use at the time of the story–if the characters would have been speaking Modern English in their time and place.)
In addition, I perform tasks that are sometimes described as “line editing,” although other editors (myself included) consider them part of a complete copyedit. I also:
- point out sentences that may be hard for the reader to follow; depending on the extent of the necessary edits, I will either suggest one or two alternatives or leave the reworking to the author
- look for words that the author overuses, especially if they appear close to each other in the text
- generally note stylistic things that might distract your reader, while remaining sensitive to your personal style and voice
How I work
I make two and a half passes through your manuscript. That’s my commitment as a careful copy editor.
What’s a half-pass? That’s the preliminary skim I give the manuscript to see how it’s structured and whether I have any questions for you before I start the nitty-gritty work. (It also satisfies my curiosity, ensuring that I won’t get too caught up in your fascinating story when I’m supposed to be editing it!)
I then edit the manuscript once, making changes and querying the author when necessary. (An example of such a query: “You wrote ‘clambered’ here, but it’s possible you meant ‘clamored.’ Please change if necessary.”) I then return the manuscript so that the author can accept or reject my changes and reply to the queries. The author sends the work back, and I check it again; I may find errors that I missed the first time around, or I may discover errors introduced by the author (or by me!) in the course of the first-pass edits.
I make corrections and write queries directly in the manuscript using Word’s Track Changes feature. I can also mark up hard copy if you prefer.
Before and after I do my magic
I was the middle child in my family, and I should be your “middle editor,” too.
Before your copyedit, you need developmental or structural edits–the big-picture feedback that helps you strengthen your characters and plot. Some people choose to do this with critique partners and beta readers. If you’re looking for a good, professional developmental editor, I have a couple I can suggest.
After your copyedit, you need proofreading. Yes, you really do. I know very good proofreaders as well–feel free to ask me for their contact information.
Why do you need a proofreader after you’ve already used a copy editor? I plan to write a blog post on this topic, but in the meantime, Courtney Milan wrote a great post on the stages of editing (although I’d quibble with her over line editing vs. copyediting) that touches on this question: http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2011/06/18/stages-of-production.