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Why did the editor miss errors in your book? – Lisa Poisso

Fellow fiction editor Lisa Poisso addresses the topic of errors in an edited manuscript. What is normal? How can you decrease the number of postediting mistakes? Read on …

How to use MS Word Track Changes with your edited manuscript


Your edited manuscript is back! It’s time to incorporate the edits. Track Changes can seem intimidating to work with the first time, but once you get comfortable with it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed notes, edits, and revisions without it.

Here are some tips for getting started processing your editing manuscript—but before you begin, remember that you really can’t go wrong if you save early and often. Save the document with a new working name right away so that you’ll always have the document in the form it was returned in from your editor. Keep saving regularly as you go so that if you make a big mistake (easy to do in the era of global search and replace), you can step back to a recent version.

After you receive your edited manuscript

Mouse finger_320The first thing you should do with a newly edited manuscript is read it with the markup turned off so you can clearly see how the editing text reads. You’ll probably find it more convenient to jot notes by hand about things you want to address later rather than distracting yourself by fixing things here and there at this stage. (Jot down a unique snippet of identifying text so you can easily find the right place in the manuscript later.)

To turn off the Track Changes markup, on the Review tab in Microsoft Word, find the drop-down box just to the right of the Track Changes box. Set that box to Final (in Word 2013, choose No Markup or Simple Markup). I recommend that you keep comments showing; if you’ve turned on the tracked changes in the text but you’re not seeing comment balloons in the margins, click the Show Markup dropdown next to the big Tracking button and check Comments to enable them.

When you’re ready to process the edits

Once you’ve read through the manuscript with the markup turned off and made notes of anything that needs more attention after your first read-through, you’re ready to peek behind the curtain and start accepting, rejecting, and revising the edits. Accepting an edit makes it part of your manuscript, while rejecting one deletes it.

To make the edits show up on your screen, set the drop-down box at the top of the Track Changes area on the Review tab to Final: Show Markup (or, in Word 2013, All Markup).

Does it seem like you see more comments this time around? You’re not crazy. Comments linked to material that was deleted only show when the deleted material is displayed, which only happens when the markup is on. Now that the markup is on, you’ll see every last explanation and comment that exists.

Continued at Why did the editor miss errors in your book? – Lisa Poisso

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Why Does Editing Cost So Much?

So, you’ve finally finished your book. You are almost ready to self-publish or maybe send it to an agent or publishing house. You’ve decided that it would be a good idea to have it professionally copyedited first. (I will stick to copyediting in this case for the sake of example, but the principles apply to developmental and substantive editing as well, sometimes more so.) How much does editing cost anyway? After reading a few blog posts, you decide to pick an editor from the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) member directory and ask for a quote.

Then comes the shocker. You never imagined that the editor would send you back such a large quote! One to two thousand dollars for a standard copyedit of your 75,000-word/300-page novel? (See the EFA’s Editorial Rates page for industry-standard fees and editing speeds.) What?! How could editing cost so much? Didn’t you just see editors advertising on some website for less than $100 for a whole book?

It’s likely that any editor that you see advertising such a low rate is not actually a professional editor, and that is the difference that matters. Professional editors work for professional rates. They edit for a living, spending 6–10 hours a day sometimes 7 days a week editing or writing. Words are their vocation, and they’ve invested a lot of time learning and perfecting their craft.

I can’t speak for all people who proclaim themselves as editors, but I can speak for good professional editors.

What a Professional Editor Brings to the Table

1. Education and Training

A good editor has a good education. This can mean several things. Editors can have degrees in language arts or specialty areas. They may have an editing degree or a certificate from a university or editorial association. They will usually pursue various forms of continuing education from various sources to keep their skills up to date. They may even spend their free time perusing editing blogs, listening to writing podcasts, and soaking up all the knowledge that they can about words, writing, and editing. In addition, many freelance editors have or continue to work in-house for professional publishers. I first learned to copyedit while working in the production department of a publisher a few years into my career.

2. Experience and Expertise

A good editor will have at least several years’ and sometimes decades’ worth of experience with various styles and types of editing. Your average English teacher or another writer who offers to look at your book primarily does other work and cannot compare.

3. Time

editing, editing costAccording to, the average adult reads at a rate of 300 words per minute. That means that an average reader will take 250 minutes, or more than 4 hours, of uninterrupted time just to read a book that is 300 pages long. Editors, however, need time to communicate with their authors, read every word multiple times, make corrections, and query the author. According to the EFA’s Editorial Rates page, a professional editor will generally be able to do a basic copyedit at a rate of 5-10 manuscript pages per hour. That means that an editor will generally spend 30–60 hours to edit your 300-page book. It’s not an afternoon’s work. It’s the work of at least a week or two, and that is if the editor is working on only one job at a time.

4. Rigor

Good professional editors are thorough. They will read and edit manuscripts at least twice before considering them done. Every word counts. Your editor also knows that her relationship with you is important. She will answer your questions and try to find workable solutions to problems that arise.

In other words, your investment in an editor is an investment in improving your book in ways that you might not be able to.

Even editors who are also writers hire editors. We all know it’s good to get a fresh set of eyes on our work. What better eyes can you hire than those of a professional editor?

Ready for an editor but don’t have the cash? Check out my post on Four Nontraditional Ways to Pay for Editing!


8 Things to Do Before and After Sending Your Book to Your Editor

So your manuscript is finally done? Or maybe you have written the first few chapters and need some help with the rest? What you need is an editor. When you are ready to contact one, here are some things to consider before (and after) you send your precious “baby” off into the world.

Before You Send Your Manuscript to Your Editor

  1. Get a sample edit. Before you commit to a long-term relationship with your editor, try a short date. Many editors, including myself, offer or even require a small sample edit. Although this step might be skipped for a developmental edit, it is very valuable for a book about to undergo substantive editing or copyediting. This gives both parties a chance to see what they are getting into before jumping in feet first. You’ll see if the editor’s style fits with your style. Your editor will get a better idea of what your manuscript is about and how much work it needs.
  2. Get a quote. Again, know what you are getting into. Are you getting an hourly rate, a per page rate, or a flat project fee? Different editors charge different rates and may even use a different rate scale for each project. It is important to know where you stand before you commit. This way, neither you nor your editor gets a nasty surprise when the bill comes due.
  3. Get it in writing. Your editor will likely send you a contract to sign, and this protects both of you. Read it carefully and discuss any problems with your editor.
  4. Discuss the big questions. Answer any questions your editor has, and don’t be afraid to ask your own. These questions may include ones about the editing process, the editing schedule, and your goals for the book.
  5. Have all of your ducks in a row. Check your files, and make sure everything is complete. Also, make sure you send the latest version of your manuscript in a format that your editor can read.

After Your Manuscript Has Gone to Your Editor

  1. Wait patiently. Do not give into the urge to read and revise your manuscript while your editor is doing the same. Asking your editor to use your new, revised version after she or he has likely spent hours editing your first version is likely to cause confusion at the least and a breach of contract at the worst.
  2. Follow up. If it’s been longer than your editor said it would or if you have questions, feel free to call or send off a polite email. However, contacting your editor frequently before the deadline just to check up will only be a distraction.
  3. Give thanks. If your editor did a great job, let them know! Offer to write a quote of recommendation for their web page. Be sure to tell your friends about your spiffy new friend. Finally, be sure to call said editor for your next project.

Bonus Step from My Editor Friends on Facebook

  1. Read your manuscript or have a friend (or three) read it. Reading your manuscript with fresh eyes, reading it aloud, or having some friends beta read it can be essential! Together, you can catch a lot of glaring errors and get some very valuable feedback.

What other steps do you take on the road to getting your manuscript polished and ready to publish?

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