August 21, 2023

Episode 34: Navigating the Editing Journey as an Author: Listener Q&A

Host Carma Spence answers questions about the book editing process

Episode 34: Navigating the Editing Journey as an Author: Listener Q&A

by Carma Spence | The Author Switch Podcast


In this episode of The Author Switch Podcast, I answered listener questions about the editing journey as an author. Whether you’re an aspiring author seeking to find your way through the editing labyrinth or a seasoned wordsmith yearning for fresh insights, this episode promises to illuminate the path to editing excellence.

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Recap & Takeaways

  • 01:30 What type of editing do I need?
  • 05:39 How much will editing cost?
  • 07:04 How long will the editing process take?
  • 07:56 Will the editor preserve my voice and style?
  • 08:29 How do I find a reputable editor?
  • 10:09 Can I work with the same editor for future books?
  • 10:54 How many rounds of editing are necessary?
  • 12:48 Should I edit before submitting to a publisher or literary agent?
  • 13:27 What should I expect from the editing process?
  • 13:49 How can I handle feedback and criticism during editing?
  • 14:49 Can I ask questions or seek clarifications during the editing process?

Transcript for Episode 34: Navigating the Editing Journey as an Author: Listener Q&A

Hello, and welcome to The Author Switch Podcast. This is episode number 34. I am your host, Carma Spence. Now, in this episode, I’m going to be answering questions that I’ve received about the editing process. But before I go into that, I’m just going to give you a little short introduction to who I am, just in case you are new to my world. I am an award winning and best selling author, and I have written numerous books on my own and contributed to several anthologies, many of those of which have become international bestsellers. Two of my books have become bestsellers, and one of them has won three awards. I’m also certified in author marketing and the StoryWay methodology.

I’ve been writing books for 16 years and I have 30 years of public relations and marketing communications experience under my belt. So I have a lot of experience working with editors and writers for many, many years.

Now the first question I received was   what type of editing do I need?  And that all depends on the manuscript and it depends on your writing skills. And the resources that you have.

So, first I’m going to go through the different types of editing and then I will describe what each one is so that you can make a better decision on what types of editing you need. Now, different editors do different type of editing so you may have one kind of editor that does one part and a different editor who does the other. In fact, I recommend working with at least two editors and I’ll go into that later in the podcast.

So, The first type of editing I’m going to talk about is developmental editing, which is also sometimes called content, substantive, or structural editing. And this type of editing basically delves into the structure of your book.

Is it sound? Does it have logical flow? Is it in the right order? And this is, this goes for both fiction and nonfiction. Books have a flow. and readers are going to engage in your book better if that flow makes sense. So what a developmental editor does is make sure, okay, should chapter one be chapter one? Or should it be chapter 23? Or should it be chapter five? And basically make sure that your book has a logical structure and flow to support your work.

The next kind of editing is called copy editing or line editing. And this type of editing goes into the finer details of your book and your manuscript.

It goes into grammar, it goes into punctuation, spelling, style. This is the type of editing I always use right before I go into design because this makes sure that my manuscript is the cleanest it can be and that there’ll be fewer edits after design.

Because after design, it’s just a pain in the butt to edit. You want your manuscript to be really clean before you go into design.

There’s a type of editing called stylistic editing, and this type of editing basically focuses on improving the writing of your sentences and paragraphs. So editors work to enhance flow, to enhance clarity, to enhance readability of your prose.

They may suggest rephrasing of your sentences. They may suggest a refining of the language. And if there’s narrative they may ask you to adjust that as well.

The next type of editing is called a content review. And this is used if you’ve got factual information in your book that needs to be factual. So this is the type of person who goes in and checks your facts. If you’re writing about current events or history, you want to check your facts. If you’re writing about science, medicine, if you’re writing about somebody’s life, that’s not your own. And actually, sometimes even if it’s your own, you want to get those facts checked.

And then finally, there’s proofreading. And this is the type of editing I always do before I hit publish. The book’s already designed, I get a proofreader to proof it. This person is basically going through and reviewing your manuscript to make sure that all the T’s are crossed, all the I’s are dotted, there aren’t any orphans. Paragraph breaks make sense. Spacing makes sense. Basically, your manuscript looks good and follows proper English. It’s basically looking for typos and other of those level of mistakes.

So again, what type of editing do you need? It depends on the state of your manuscript when it’s ready for editing, which is really dependent on your skills as a writer.

So if you’re like a newbie writer, or you don’t even consider yourself a writer, you’re probably going to need more editors to kind of go through your work and make sure that it works well. Because you do not want to publish junk. You do not want to publish something that doesn’t show you in the best light.

And that’s what an editor’s job is for. It’s to help you have this wonderful polished manuscript that is a delight to read.

The next logical question is   how much is this all going to cost?  And that really depends. It depends on the experience of the editor. It depends on the type of editing. And it depends on the length of your manuscript.

As of right now, 2023, here are some ballpark figures that you can expect. Developmental editing, oh, and just editors can charge you by the word, or they can charge you by the hour. So, for developmental editing, you can expect to pay anywhere between 19 and 17 cents per word, or $45 to $90 an hour.

Will they charge you by those prices? Not necessarily. You may get a project price. They’ll ask you, how long is your book? How many words? It’s this price. So it really depends on the editor whether they’ll price you by minute, by hour, or by project.

Copy editing ranges between two and nine cents per word or $28 to $56 per hour.

And finally, proofreading, which tends to be the lowest price, that ranges from 1 to 3 cents per word or $17 to $39 per hour. Again, if you’re working with a more experienced editor, you’re going to expect a higher price. And if you’re working with the same editor, they’re not going to drop their price necessarily just because they’re doing proofreading.

  So how long does this editing process take?  Again, it depends on the length of the manuscript. The longer the manuscript, the longer the editing process takes. Also, you, when you’re hiring an editor, you want to find out what their availability is because more than likely they’re editing multiple projects and so they may not even start yours until X date.

So definitely get on their calendar and Respect that calendar. If you tell them you’re going to get it by the 5th, then get it to them by the 5th or have a really good explanation of why and understand that if you are late, your project may be bumped and you may not may, they will no longer honor the original deadline they quoted you, which means all your other things that you depend on are going to have to be pushed as well. So deadlines are really kind of important to stick to them.

The next question is, Will the editor preserve my voice and style? And the answer is,  if it’s a good editor, yes, absolutely. Because their job isn’t to change your voice or style. Their editor is to polish your voice and style so it shines like a brand new sparkly diamond.

Now, if it’s a bad editor, well, you get what you pay for. So, when it comes to editors, go for the… Go for the price you can afford at the highest level that you can afford it.

Next question is, how do I find a reputable editor?

Well, there are several ways you can find an editor. Low end, Fiverr, Upwork, you can find quality editors there. But be careful. Buyer beware. Another way to find a good editor is to go to one of the editing associations, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association, which actually has a directory of their members, and will tell you, they’ll tell you what kinds of books they like to edit, and how much experience they have. So going to an association is another good way, but my favorite way is to go to my friends who are writers and editors and worked with editors. Hey, I’m looking for an editor. Who do you recommend? And, story on that one, I’ve worked with several editors over my numerous book projects and unfortunately even though I’m working on this series of books, I needed an editor, I contacted my previous editor and none of them responded.

Which I think means that either, either my email got lost in their spam folder or they’re busy or they’re not doing editing projects anymore or maybe they’re not taking any editing projects right now. So I had to go searching and I asked a ghostwriter friend of mine and I asked my copywriting mentor.

My copywriting mentor, he found me one like that and at a fairly decent price. So ask someone. Talk to your mentors, talk to your friends who are writers, and get recommendations because word of mouth, I just trust it better.

Next question is, can I work with the same editor for future books?

The short answer to that question is yes, absolutely. In fact, on my next project, I’ve got seven books lined up. I’m hoping to work with the same editor for all seven. However, you can tell that I’m not working with editors I’ve worked with before, not because I didn’t like them, but because I, they’re just not available.

So it really depends on. how close together your book projects are, because the closer they are, the more likely that person will be able to work with you. But if you’ve got a couple of years in between projects, it’s quite likely that an editor that you worked with before is no longer available.

So short answer, yes. Will it happen? Not necessarily.

Next question is,   how many rounds of editing are necessary?  Now that is heavily, heavily, heavily dependent on the state of your manuscript when you first hand it over. The messier it is, the more rounds. That said, your editor is going to be giving you a scope. They may say, I’ll accept no more than two rounds when they quote you their project, because anything above that scope, they’re going to have to charge you more. So the more editing rounds you go through, the price goes up. price goes up, the more rounds. Now what I do to make my editor’s life easier is that I edit it for like as many rounds as I need in order to get my manuscript as clean as possible.

But I am also well aware that I have dyslexia and I will see. see things that are not really there. I’ll think they’re there because I intended them to be there and they aren’t there. So I always have a second and a third pair of eyes. Now fortunately I have a husband who can help me with that second pair of eyes and then after he edits it, which is sometimes one or two rounds, then I send it to the editor that I’m going to pay for.

I also always have a copy editor do it before I design and a proofreader look at it after design. And that’s because when you flow a document into design, all sorts of interesting little things happen. Orphans pop up. Paragraph breaks go weird. All sorts of wonkiness can happen. It doesn’t matter how good the designer is. Stuff happens. They miss something and a proofreader comes in and they check the things that messed up in design. So how many can you expect? I would say a minimum of three rounds, depending on who you’re working with, a minimum. And it goes up from there. But always check with your editor how many rounds they’re willing to have within the price that they quoted you.

Next question is,   should I edit before submitting to a publisher or literary agent?  Emphatically, yes. Oh, goodness gracious, you shouldn’t even have to ask that question because never, never, never send a hot mess to your agent or your publisher because they will drop you like a hot potato. And yes, I did do a whole bunch of little canned phrases, but really, yes. Give your agent. or your publisher, the cleanest manuscript you possibly can.

Clichés, that was the word I was looking for. I just forgot it in a moment.

Next question,   what should I expect from the editing process?  Well, if you’re working with a professional, you should expect feedback and suggestions for improvement and corrections to enhance your manuscript.

If you’re working with someone who’s less than professional, then you may get something else. Hopefully, that’s not the case.

The next question is,   how can I handle feedback and criticism during editing?  Again, you’re going to get questions about your manuscript. Sometimes it will be, what do you mean here? I don’t understand. It may be clarification on, is this what you meant? Would this sound better?

Your editor’s not trying to hurt your feelings. They’re trying to help you produce the best product possible. So take it in that light. Take it as constructive criticism. And if you feel hurt. Go to your corner, have your cry, then come back and be professional and understand what’s going on.

So sometimes I’ll get feedback and I’m like, okay, you clearly just don’t understand, but I know my audience will understand. That’s okay. I’m not going to go there. But sometimes I’ve gotten feedback and I realize, Hmm, well, I understand that because that’s in my head. But now I can see that a reader wouldn’t and so I need to add information or clarify the information. And I find that kind of feedback very helpful.

The last question is,   can I ask questions or seek clarifications during the editing process?  And yes, absolutely. Communication with your editor is essential. And like I mentioned before, there’s probably going to be more than one round. They may make a comment that you don’t understand, so you’re going to ask for clarification.

Or they may be asking you for clarification so that they can give you the best kind of advice or suggestion to make that clearer. And so that feedback back and forth is essential to come up with a great project.

So I hope that you found all this information about the editing process enlightening, informative, and helpful. I hope it helped take any fear that you might have about the editing process and kick that to the curb. And I hope that it helps you understand what kind of editing you need and how to find the right editor for you.

This is the end of this episode of The Author Switch. I’ll see you next week. Ciao!

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The Author Switch is a podcast dedicated to helping experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners turn on The Author Switch — and keep it on — so that they can leverage the power of books to take their businesses to a whole new dimension. Learn more about the show and where it is available on its page.