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Editing Question

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message 1: by Emily (new)

Emily (worldsokayestcatmom) | 17 comments I am currently working on doing a second edit of a book. I beta read the book for the author, then he hired me to edit it. It had already been edited before, so I'm not finding many issues with it. However, every editor misses things, especially if there is a lot to edit. I generally have anywhere from 7 to 10 edits per page of a manuscript, but because this one has already gone through an edit, I'm finding an average of 2 or so per page. A second edit, in my opinion, is worth the cost. It's helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes look at the text before it goes to print.

I hope this helps!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Tammy,

This is actually something that has, in my experience, become a growing trend, though it isn't always a necessity, its more of a safe-guard/preventative measure that some authors use to ensure they can circumvent the chances of getting a bad review because of typos or other mistakes that the first editor/proofreader may have overlooked or missed entirely.

This is not to discredit any editor or to even say their work is sub-par, but understand that an editor/proofreader is only a single set of eyes and a single mind. No editor can guarantee a 100% error-free manuscript. Even in larger editing firms/publishing houses, a manuscript is read by two (or more depending on the length and intricacy of the manuscript's plot) sets of eyes to ensure that the work is as perfect as can be.

When I worked for one of the publishing houses I would frequently be called on to proofread the editor's work to catch any mistakes he might have overlooked, so this is speaking from personal experience as both a freelancer and a professional proofreader.

Hope my answer helped. If you have any other questions feel free to ask :)


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)


I can understand your confusion and if you're asking an opinion then yes, hiring a fresh set of eyes for each level of edits a good way to go. Developmental and line edits can be extensive and can involve a lot of re-writes where information may be pulled, added, and even the plot redirected (that's mostly with a developmental edit though). Mistakes tend to slip by when your editor is focused on the "big picture" so hiring a new person to once over the final draft is always a good thing. Regarding the 3 editors, that really is up to you and the extent of work that your manuscript needs. Most of the time my clients only require a line edit and a proofreading to be done. Developmental edits are really for manuscripts whose plot may require a complete redirection or whose work needs to be structurally altered.

message 4: by Lin (new)

Lin | 75 comments Mod
The proofreader should be the very last pass, on the version for print/publication if at all possible, and will check for layout as well as spelling/ punctuation etc. You shouldn't need another after that, but there will usually be the odd error that slips through. The important thing is not to tweak after they've looked at it (or after the editor!). I think writers can be too paranoid over errors - many trad published books contain several errors, and as long as they aren't too many or too glaring, the power of the writing should carry the reader through.

message 5: by P.N. (last edited May 07, 2015 08:19AM) (new)

P.N. Elrod (pnelrod) | 88 comments Sometimes you need not hire a second set of eyes, you organize a "posse" of volunteer beta readers. It's a good idea if they're also writers, too. Another writer is going to more alert to problems than those who read for pleasure and like *everything.* You want problem solvers, not enablers!

Typos come in all sizes and levels of alarm. There's a huge difference between catching a simple typo and spotting a plot hole as big as the Death Star.

There are also the "Oops, I didn't think this one through" problems, such as giving a detailed description of a character who's standing on the other side of a door the viewpoint character hasn't yet opened.

You may want to consider assembling a posse of trusty, committed betas where you all cover each others' backs by exchanging works and offering feedback/corrections.

The best example of a successful posse I've ever seen is Jim Butcher's team. It's a pleasure to edit his stuff because he and his crew have been over every word, leaving me little to no work to do. I can just sit back and enjoy the story.

The main stages for an indie writer are:

* Finish the manuscript, proof as you go. (Leave on the spell check, you get used to the red zigzag lines, they are your friends!)

* Turn it over to beta readers with the instruction: "Don't tell me what you like about it, tell me what's wrong with the danged thing so I can FIX it!"

* Accept their feedback and corrections with professional grace and possibly buy them lunch. Promptly return the favor when it's your turn to be beta.

* Rewrite the book. Turn it over to the next batch of betas.

* If it works for everyone by then, you may be ready to hire an editor for copy-editing/proofing.

*If there are still problems, then you may need a content/developmental editor. Those are the ones who spot the catastrophic problems. They also let you know not to open a book with a character waking up.

(Seriously, avoid that one! I read the slush pile and every third submission has the protag waking up. They all get rejected, BTW. I collected rejections for using the cliche, too.)

Keep in mind that some stories, however much you love the idea, the characters, and however hard you worked, may be too flawed to publish. There's no shame in it, each one is a learning experience, and no writer escapes. We all have things like that lurking in our files. Just keep writing!

Bottom line: make sure the story and the writing are the best you can do -- don't assume the editor is going to catch problems and sort them out. I did that ONCE, back in the day -- never again!

In that near-disaster, I turned in a first draft of a book, thinking I'd get feedback and a chance to rewrite. All the how-to books on writing said this was how things worked in publishing.

Not so much. I got the MS back and it had been copy-edited; there was no editorial comment. The only note was, "Have this back in 2 weeks so it can go to the typesetters."

My editor mistook a first draft for a final. After I picked my jaw off the floor I got to work on a REWRITE. The book was a hot mess, no way was I going to let *that* get published. The editor was not happy when I turned it in on time--she'd have to copy edit all over again--but it was no longer a hot mess, it was a considerably better final draft.

Oh, yeah, I did that rewrite on a manual typewriter with White-Out and carbons. I'd have wept to have had a laptop like the one I use now!

Okay, enough memory lane stuff. Time for you to get a beta-posse together.

Barring that, you can join Absolute Write and ask for betas to help out while returning the favor. It's free.


Should you need an editor with tons of experience, you know where to find me. ;0)


message 6: by Longhare (new)

Longhare Content | 43 comments Seconding Lin. If you've had a good line (or copy) edit, followed by a proofread, theoretically, you shouldn't need anything else. A handful of errors will slip into print. This is the way it is and always has been. At some point you have to decide that you have spent enough time and $$ and just publish.

In traditional publishing, straggling errors are sometimes fixed in a reprint. In ebook/on-demand self-publishing, fixing the stragglers is even easier. If you are submitting to an agent or publisher, don't sweat the eleventh-hour typos.

BUT. The messier the drafts, the more rounds are needed. After you've made the changes kicked out by the DE, you give your finished manuscript to the line/copy editor. Probably you are all working in Word with Track Changes. You reject some changes, accept others, leave some to think about later, and so on. Weird things happen. Spaces close up, or appear in the middle of words, or whole chunks disappear or repeat. You rise at 2 a.m. and bang out a spectacular bit of rewrite, which you forget to take a second look at the next morning. You turned the comments off and forgot there were all these tense issues flagged that you were meaning to spend time with. The proofreader may be able to catch most of that--and probably a bunch of stuff the line editor missed, but what you really needed was a second round with the line editor--a second draft on which you both can sign off before moving on to a proofreader. A proofreader should be looking at a finished draft--preferably the galley proof or ebook file, and they should be finding very little. If the draft comes back marked up like a copy edit, and you agree with the markup (so its not just a case of an overzealous PR), then you will probably need another proofread after making another round of changes.

message 7: by Sudhir (new)

Sudhir Joglekar (josuchi) | 11 comments Long ago, books used to have an errata at the end. Because there used to be a time gap between writing and printing, the authors used to read the printed pages before the book was bound and if they found any errors, those would go in the errata. The readers had to first check the errata, carry out those changes in the book and then start reading !

message 8: by Emily (new)

Emily | 18 comments I have worked on a book that had three different professional edits completed. It was very clean :). I think it's a good idea if you have the budget for it. I like to think of this process for me. Self-edits, professional edits, proofread/quick edit (the oops edits) :) Good luck.

message 9: by Karlie (new)

Karlie DeMarse | 14 comments From everything I have seen the order is self edit, outside copy edit and then outside proofreading.
The outside copy editor is because the author 'fills in the blanks' or skips over the typo's without seeing them. Their brains fill in what is supposed to be there.
The proofreader is not a line editor. They look at the overall document for format, not the grammar, spelling, etc.
So I agree, two pairs of outside eyes. But the editor should come before the proofreader, not after.

message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol Tietsworth | 194 comments I agree, but I offer editing and/or proofreading services, so I can do the second and third step together. I charge .003/ word for just proofreading or .005/ word for both together. I have references if you need them, and cane reached at legal2b@yahoo.com.

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