I can edit or proofread nearly anything that’s written in English: book manuscripts, short stories, essays, website content, blogs, menus, marketing materials, résumés, or even financial statements (I am also a Certified Public Accountant)!

If you have a project that you aren’t sure I would work on, please contact me so that we can discuss it. If it’s something edgy or risqué, no problem. If it’s something religious or political, no problem. If it’s something that’s just a few sentences, no problem. I’m here to help you make your writing perfect. If I’m not the right fit, I’ll let you know, and I can try to help you find someone who is the right fit if you’d like.

Great question! Generally, you review your first draft and create a second one to fix obvious errors and make improvements. Then you’ll get a developmental edit, which focuses on the big picture. After a new draft, if you’re close to being ready for publishing, you’ll get a copyedit which helps make improvements at the sentence level. Then prepare your manuscript for publishing and get a proofread to correct any lingering errors. See my blog on The Editing Process for more detail.

I’ll ask you to send me your project, or at least a sample of it. I’ll skim through it to get an idea of the amount of work it will require; the cleaner it is, the lower the rate.

Also, the rate may be higher if you have a short deadline. Once I know this information and the exact word count, I’ll provide you a total amount that the project will cost.

Once we have agreed on the level of service and the price, I will send you an agreement specifying the terms. The agreement is in place to ensure that we are in accord about the services to be performed, the deadline, and the payment terms. For hourly projects, an estimate of the total number of hours will be included. The agreement must be signed and returned to me before work begins. If you have any concerns about the terms of the agreement, please discuss them with me.

My typical payment terms are a deposit of 50% of the agreed-upon (or estimated) project cost due upon receipt of the signed agreement and before I start any work. The remaining 50% is due prior to delivery of the final project.

I greatly prefer to have the entire project available at one time rather than being given chunks of it. I feel that I can do a much better job if I can go back and forth in the text as needed and take advantage of economies of scale. However, if you have a compelling reason to send it to me in pieces, we can definitely discuss it.

For recurring work, such as editing regular blogs, I also have a monthly billing option. I accumulate the charges and send an invoice at the end of the month. Payment of the monthly invoice is due immediately.

Short texts (about five pages or fewer) will generally be returned within forty-eight hours. Longer projects will depend on word count, whether you have a deadline, and other projects already in the queue. For novel-length works, I generally ask for sixty days maximum for a copyedit and ninety days maximum for a developmental edit. I expect to get it back to you sooner, but that gives me a cushion in case life happens.

If you have a deadline, please communicate that up front. Also, keep in mind that I must receive your signed agreement and deposit prior to starting any work.

It’s not a bad idea. Copyeditors will catch most errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting. However, their focus is more on accuracy, clarity, consistency, word choice, and sentence structure. Mistakes could be overlooked by copyeditors simply because that’s not their sole focus, and they may have needed to focus on slightly higher levels of detail, such as rewriting sentences or reorganizing paragraphs.

Proofreaders will be laser-focused on grammar, punctuation, and spelling without having their attention divided with other concerns. Proofreaders won’t be able to tell you if the flow of your writing is good, if you overused a word, or if your plot and timeline make sense; their attention is too narrowly focused.

It’s always a good idea to have a proofreader look over your writing as the final step before finalizing it, particularly after it’s been formatted for publishing. However, your writing should be pretty clean after using a copyeditor, so you should expect a proofreading rate near the bottom of the proofreader’s rate range.

I prefer to use Microsoft Word. I use Comments extensively for developmental edits to point out areas where improvements are needed and suggestions for how to implement them. In copyedits and proofreads, I also occasionally use them to ask questions or explain why I changed something if I think my reasoning may not be clear. Word also has a Track Changes feature, which enables me to make my suggested changes in copyedits and proofreads within the text. With Track Changes, all you have to do is either accept or reject my suggestions. If you accept them, then your writing is automatically updated with no further work required. If you’re interested in learning more about Track Changes, see my blogs on Using Track Changes as an Editor and Using Track Changes as an Author.

Google Docs has a Suggestions feature that is similar to Track Changes that I can use if Microsoft Word doesn’t work for you. However, it doesn’t have as many nifty features as Word.

If your document is a PDF, I use a tool called PDF Annotator that enables me to mark suggested changes. Unfortunately, you would still need to do the work of incorporating the changes into the final document yourself since I would be unable to edit a PDF directly.

Websites are a little trickier since they’re not in document form. I will usually copy and paste content and make suggestions in Microsoft Word using Track Changes as described above. For other things like spelling errors in menus or broken links, I will either describe the problem (if it’s easy to follow) or capture an image and mark it up either in Word or in a PDF. I am also open to making the changes directly in your website editor if you prefer.

I am most familiar with Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), which is the style guide used for book publishing and for business.

I also ask first-time clients to fill out a preferences sheet specifying how they prefer certain things to be presented, and I stick to client preferences when providing my services. I also encourage ongoing communication with my clients so that I’m not marking things they don’t want marked, which saves both of us time.

I generally use Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, but I am open to your preference of dictionary.

Finally, if you have a style sheet, character list, summary, or other information that will be helpful as reference when I’m working on your project, I ask that you provide those.

There’s nothing that can replace professional editing. You wouldn’t expect to build a house without having to pay for it, right? Think of professional editing the same way and see if you can scrounge up the money to make an investment in your writing career.

However, if you definitely cannot do that, there are some other options.

Consider whether you can afford a manuscript critique. You won’t get as detailed of guidance as you would in a developmental edit, but it will give you a professional opinion on big picture areas to improve so that you can make your writing stronger. It will just require more effort on your part to learn how to implement the suggestions.

Use beta readers you trust to give you honest, critical feedback. They should be people who are avid readers in your genre so that they are familiar with what makes a good story and what the genre expectations are. For example, a romance has to end with a happily-ever-after; if it doesn’t, it’s not a romance. They should look for areas where a character’s motivation isn’t clear or seems like something that character wouldn’t do. They should inform you of plot holes where maybe something was in your mind but didn’t make it onto the page. Consider using paid beta readers so that they will take the work seriously and meet your deadlines. You don’t have to pay much, but if you do pay, you’re likely to get better results.

You can also take the time to learn to edit the work yourself. It’s ideal to have someone who isn’t intimately familiar with the work review it, but self-editing is a wonderful skill to have. There are lots of books and online resources available to help you learn how to edit. Maybe even take an online class. Take advantage of those resources and apply your knowledge to your own manuscript.