My Services: Manuscript Evaluation

            Recently, I have been sharing the types of editing services I offer to authors. In my last installment of this series, I will be sharing a slightly different service: manuscript evaluation. If you aren’t certain about what editing your manuscript needs, an evaluation might be your answer.

What Is It?

            A manuscript evaluation is like editing. The biggest difference is that an evaluation does not include actual corrections. Instead, a manuscript evaluation is about a big picture view of your manuscript and what it needs. Because of this difference, this method can be less expensive while still giving you guidance on how to improve your manuscript.

Who Is It For?

            A manuscript evaluation might be the answer for you if you have a completed manuscript, but don’t know how much editing it needs. You don’t want to pay for heavy editing if it is not needed, nor do you want to pay for copy editing when your manuscript truly needs developmental edits. The evaluation will help you know what type of editing will be the most beneficial to you.

 It is also good for those who want advice but can’t afford a full edit. If you are self-publishing and on a tight budget, the manuscript evaluation will help you get some objectivity as you edit, without using up your entire budget.

What Does It Look Like?

            My process for a manuscript evaluation differs from my editing processes. I begin critiquing the manuscript during my first reading. I make note of persistent problems I see with mechanics, first impressions of characters, and anything else I notice as I read. By the time I reach the end, I will usually have a series of queries along with my notes. My second pass through your manuscript is meant for finding the answers to my questions and confirming my initial thoughts.

            Once I am done working out all my questions and comments, I write them out into a letter. In this letter, I will explain to you my impressions of your manuscript. Then, I will tell you what your manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses are. From there, I will give you some advice on what you can do to make your manuscript even stronger. If you request it, I will include a light markup of the manuscript. It will be most similar to a light copy edit.

Conclusion

            Writing a book can be a daunting task and editing it may sound even more difficult. Editors want to help you navigate the process. If you would like some advice on the next steps for your novel and what it might still need before publication, a manuscript evaluation might be exactly what you need.

My Services: Proofreading

            Editing is a vital part of the publication process. There are many types of editing, and their definitions can vary depending on the editor. Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing the editing services that I offer and explaining my processes. Today, we’ll be discussing proofreading.

What Is It?

            Proofreading is your last line of defense before you publish your manuscript. It is for reviewing page proofs to find any stubborn typos that survived the editing process. It also looks at format and design to make sure that everything looks right and is easy to read. As the last editing step, proofreading is by far the most detailed.

Who Is It For?

            Because proofreading is the last check before publication, it is for authors who are ready to publish their work. There should be no need to alter the text or make significant changes to your manuscript. The way the manuscript looks when proofreading is done is the way it should look after publication.

What Is the Process?

            When proofreading, I start by looking at grammar, punctuation, and spelling to make sure there are no persisting typos. Afterward, I check that the manuscript has adhered to its style guide or house style. Because this is usually the last time the manuscript will be edited, I begin proofreading during my first reading. I don’t want to become overly familiar with the text.

            Once I am done with these checks, I turn my attention to more particular items. I check images, lists, headings, page numbers, and table of contents to make sure that nothing is missing and that all are formatted correctly. Bullet points should be parallel, headings should be formatted the same, and the design should not be pulling the reader’s attention away from the text. There are hundreds of small details that can have a big affect on your manuscript and, therefore, need to be perfect.

            My last check is for quotations and references. These are hot spots for trouble that deserve special attention, which is why I take special care to ensure accuracy and completeness. Proofreading doesn’t usually include fact-checking, but I do some if I believe it is needed. After I am done checking everything, I will read the proofs one last time to make sure that it looks good and to finalize all my edits.

Conclusion

            Proofreading is the point at which you can iron out the final details of your manuscript. How your manuscript will look once it is published is decided at this stage. I try to help you with making all your final changes by thoroughly checking your manuscript’s text, style, and design.

My Services: Copy Editing

            What type of editing you choose for your manuscript depends on who the editor is and what your editing goals are. I have been sharing what types of editing I offer, how I define them, and what my process looks like. So far, we have discussed developmental and line editing. This week, we will talk about what copy editing is and who can benefit from it.

What Is It?

            When most people picture editing, they are thinking about copy editing. Copy editing is about correcting grammar, spelling, and other typos. Not everyone realizes that copy editing goes beyond mechanics to include writing style. A copy editor checks that the author or publisher’s writing style is applied consistently throughout the manuscript. This editing process is all about reviewing the details.

Who Is It For?

            Copy editing comes toward the end of the publication process. At this point, you should have developed the manuscript’s structure and reworded the text. All the significant changes have already been made, and you are ready to polish your manuscript. Essentially, if you are ready to publish your book but want to make sure you have a clean manuscript, copy editing is what you need.

What Is the Process?

            I work from a checklist but adjust depending on what your manuscript needs. My first reading of your manuscript will usually tell me enough to know how I need to adapt. I then start with running spell check and editing software (with the client’s permission). From there, I will move on to checking grammar, punctuation, and spelling. After I have reviewed all of the language mechanics, I move on to style. Here, I look for such things as proper word usage, good sentence length, and consistency in applying style rules.

            My next step is to fact-check if the client wishes (although I spot check a manuscript if I see a red flag). I also check readability. Vague wording can hide problems with facts. After I finish working through my checklist, I will read the manuscript one last time. This is to ensure that I have caught everything and that my changes make sense.

Conclusion

            Copy editing is more focused on the details than other types of editing are. It is about providing you with clean copy that is ready for publication. The details of your manuscript are just as important as the big picture. Copy editing can polish those details so that they present your ideas well.

My Services: Line Editing

            The type of editing you choose depends on what you need and where you are in the writing process. It also depends on the editor’s definition of the different types. Over the next several posts, I’ll be describing the types of editing I offer, who they are for, and what my process is. Last time, we looked at developmental editing. Today, we’ll be discussing line editing.

What Is It?

            Line editing is about structure and style. Line editing is like developmental editing in its focus on structure. Unlike developmental editing, it also looks at style choices. With line editing, I work by paragraph, by line, and by word. With each part, I look for certain elements to make sure that your manuscript is using all its potential.

Who Is It For?

            Line editing is for authors who want to ensure that their manuscripts are clear and strong. You’ve done some rewriting and developed the text. Now, you want to make sure that your work uses concise wording and makes a strong presentation of your ideas.

What Is the Process?

            In my line editing process, I try to work in sections through the manuscript. I will read the manuscript first. Afterward, I take care of any housekeeping items such as running spellcheck and removing extra spaces. From there, I begin editing by looking at the big picture. Depending on the manuscript, that will either be by chapter or by section. I mostly look for sound structure, good transitions, and consistent style choices.

            Next, I move on to a paragraph view. This step is where the process becomes more detailed. With each paragraph, I consider not only the structure and flow into surrounding paragraphs but also the value of the paragraph. I try to define the point of it so that I can determine if there is a better way to word it. If necessary, I’ll suggest new wording so that it can better present your point. Each paragraph needs to add something. No parts of a manuscript get to slack off!

            After looking at the paragraphs, I move on to sentences. Once again, every sentence must serve a purpose. I look for what that purpose is and how well that sentence is doing its job. I keep an eye out for jargon, triteness, and proper tone. I will also look at consistency and determine if there is a way to say the same thing with fewer, clearer words.

            Finally, I look at each word. I consider the meaning—especially connotation—color, tone, and clarity. Each word needs to be strong and vivid to help carry the idea of the manuscript and keep the reader’s interest.

            Once I complete the editing, I read the manuscript one more time. I want to make sure that I haven’t introduced any errors while I was making changes or missed errors that were already present.

Conclusion

            Line editing is ideal for making sure your developed manuscript is strong and has consistent style choices. With a line edit, I can help you catch any mistakes in the important details of your manuscript.

My Services: Developmental Editing

            Editing is so much more than correcting grammar and punctuation. It has a much broader focus. Every editor has their definition of what editing is. During these next few blog posts, I’ll be giving more detailed descriptions of the types of editing I offer. I will explain what each type of editing is, who it is ideal for, and what my process is. Today, we will take a closer look at developmental editing.

What Is It?

            Developmental editing is about strengthening a manuscript’s structure and content. The “bones” of the manuscript, such as plot, setting, flow, and tone, are all important in this editing process. Although I might suggest corrections for grammar and spelling, it is not my first priority during a developmental edit. This process is about giving your manuscript a solid foundation for presenting your ideas.

Who Is It for?

            Developmental editing is heavy-handed, which makes it ideal for rough drafts or unfinished projects that are in trouble. It is also helpful for authors who are starting out and still learning their craft. It can even be good for a few chapters to help the author gauge what developmental stage their manuscript is at.

What Is the Process?

            I have a checklist I follow with each edit. Before I edit anything, I always take the time to read it. I want to know what I’m getting into before I rearrange things. Afterward, I take care of housekeeping items such as spellcheck and removing extra spaces. I will usually customize my checklist to include any problems that caught my attention during the first reading.

            The first things I focus on are titles and headings. They need to be engaging enough to catch your reader’s attention while informing the reader about what is coming in the text. The next focus is the introduction and conclusion. Both paragraphs are usually strong because authors spend the most time perfecting them. I make sure that the paragraphs are engaging for readers, plainly state (or restate) the point, and fit together cohesively.

            Next, I look at the structure of the manuscript. I make sure that the ideas in the introduction are carried throughout the manuscript. They need to be expanded logically in the text. As I move through the manuscript, I look for plot holes, inconsistencies, poor descriptions, inaccuracies, and ill-timed pacing. I want the content to have value for both you and your reader. You should feel that your content is expressing your ideas clearly; and the reader should find your manuscript intriguing and easy to understand.

            My next concern is logic and flow. These aspects overlap with structure because they are related. I look for good transitions between paragraphs and logical flow through the manuscript. The text isn’t the only focus in this part. It is also important that extra content, such as charts or images, tie into the surrounding text and add value to the manuscript.

            I always take special care to look at dialogue. It needs to flow like a natural conversation and make sense to the reader. If the dialogue is forced, the reader won’t believe it and will be turned off from the story. Depending on your manuscript’s setting, the dialogue also needs to fit within the location and time. It is a critical part of building your manuscript’s world.

            My next concern is the tone and voice. The tone will let your manuscript make the right impression on your readers. I make sure that the tone is appropriate and stays consistent. For voice, I ensure that your manuscript has more active voice than passive so that it will exude confidence and authority.

            Finally, I will look at clarity and accuracy. I put these elements last because they are so important. These two are imperative for every type of writing, which makes it important for me to address any existing issues with them. Above all else, the reader needs to clearly understand the manuscript and trust that the information is accurate. With all my projects, I do one final read-through to make sure I haven’t introduced new errors into the manuscript while I was making significant changes.

Conclusion

            What you get from an editing process depends on who the editor is and what type of editing they are doing. I view developmental editing as a process that helps authors create a well-structured manuscript out of their rough drafts. Developmental editing looks at all the important elements of writing to ensure that they will support the content of your work and successfully share your ideas with your readers.