What is the difference between developmental editing and copyediting?
Developmental editing is all about the macro level: it’s a really intense beta reading, line edit, and content edit all rolled into one. I focus on big-picture issues like plot, character development, pacing, world building, genre placement, point of view, and clarity. If, for example, your heroine is perilously close to TSTL behavior, I’ll point out where, explain how, and suggest fixes, too. You'll receive both the manuscript with line-level commentary and an editorial letter outlining developmental issues and proposed revisions. Developmental edits also include a second round of editing for any sections that are substantially rewritten in response to the first round of editing.
Copyediting is all about the micro level. I’ll fix grammar, mechanics, word use, formatting, awkward phrasing, inconsistencies, and anything else that doesn’t fall under the heading of story. In addition to the edited manuscript (with track changes enabled, so you're the final arbiter of all revisions), you'll also receive a style sheet outlining formatting choices, punctuation rules, the spelling of proper nouns, and any exceptions to established conventions. Style sheets are a powerful tool for ensuring stylistic consistency and accuracy within a manuscript, as well as across a series—if your copyeditor doesn't prepare one, they're not doing their job.
Do I really need a developmental editor?
Maybe, maybe not. Are you happy with your book? Do you have a bevy of beta readers who supply you with insightful commentary? Is this your first book or your thirty-first? Only you can decide if a developmental edit would help or hurt your writing process. Plenty of successful authors do well without them. But sometimes a top-down view from someone who really knows the genre can shake things up, inspire new possibilities, and identify problems you didn’t know you had.
Do I really need a copyeditor?
YES. Your readers may think a “dangling modifier” is just a euphemism for a Prince Albert, but that doesn’t mean they’ll tolerate poor writing. If your reader has to go over the same sentence again and again to understand what you’re trying to say, you’ve just interrupted narrative flow. If your dialogue leaves your reader wondering who is speaking, you’ve just wrecked readability. And the wrong word can definitely get you the wrong kind of attention.
What is the difference between light and heavy copyediting?
In a light copyedit, I focus on mechanical issues, such as grammar, punctuation, and word usage. I'll fix any outright errors, I'll apply consistent style choices throughout, and I'll leave a comment if I think any passage is wordy, inconsistent, awkward, or unclear. In a heavy copyedit, I'll do all the same things I do in a light copyedit, but I'll also be proactive in reducing wordiness, smoothing awkward phrasing, and fixing unclear prose. After a sample edit of your work, I'll make a recommendation about which level of copyediting I think you need, but ultimately, the choice is yours.
What genres do you edit?
I edit genre fiction with a romance plot or romantic subplot, anything from urban fantasy to YA to genre-blending crossovers. Erotica, GLBTQ, ménage, fetish, and BDSM are all welcome!
Do you work with self-published/indie authors?
Yes, a thousand times yes!
How long does a developmental edit or a copyedit take?
For an 80,000-word novel, I need about a week for either a copyedit or a developmental edit.
All developmental edits include a second round of editing for any sections that are substantially rewritten in response to the first round of editing. Depending on the extent of rewrites and my project queue, I can usually return these secondary edits in a couple of days.
When should I get my book developmentally edited?
I prefer to work with finished manuscripts. I recommend getting a beta reader or two to read it first—and yes, your mom/roommate/dentist does count—so you can fix any glaring problems right away. When you’re happy with it (or so frustrated with it you want to throw it against a wall but can’t figure out why), then send it to me. I will also look at nearly complete drafts, especially if you need help figuring out where your book is going off the rails. But save your pennies if your book isn’t close to completion. There’s no need to pay an editor to look at a half-finished manuscript or, egad, just the first chapter!
When should I get my book copyedited?
After it’s completed, after your beta readers have had at it, after you’ve had a chance to incorporate their feedback, and after a developmental edit, if you had one. Copyediting should be one of the last things you do to prepare your book for publication. Don’t pay someone to hunt out all your comma splices and homonym booboos if you’re just going to cut and rewrite a large portion of your book afterward.
Can you do a developmental edit and a copyedit simultaneously?
If—and this is a big if—you are relatively happy with your plot and pacing but you know you need a developmental edit to look for easy-to-fix problems (e.g., plausability: a security-conscious PI won’t run off to meet the bad guy without at least telling her partner where she’s going), then I can do a simultaneous copyedit/developmental edit for you, but I don’t recommend this for first-time clients. I won’t do this at all unless your manuscript has already been read by at least two other people and you’ve incorporated their feedback. This policy is for you as much as for me—I don’t want to be paid to tell you your baby isn’t ready for the world.
How far in advance do I need to book your services?
Right now, I am booking approximately four to six months in advance. Once you know when your book will be finished, including time to incorporate feedback from a beta reader or two, contact me to get on my calendar. I will try to accommodate late manuscripts as best I can, but please be aware that the turnaround time on a manuscript may be significantly delayed to accommodate on-time authors in my queue.
Okay, smarty pants, why isn’t there a hyphen in “Razor Sharp Editing”?
Short answer, because a hyphen would make it ugly.
Long answer, I don’t want a hyphen in my logo or my website URL. Graphically, adding one wouldn’t look very sharp. However, if you write “razor sharp editing” in your manuscript, chances are good that I’ll hyphenate it. Good grammar in fiction is all about context, and sometimes what is grammatically accurate is distracting or just ugly.
Will you obliterate my authorial voice by making it grammatically perfect?
See above for my answer.
But you didn’t answer my question.
No, I didn’t tell you my answer, but I did show you my answer. See what I did there? Get it? Sorry, editor humor.
But seriously, folks, editing genre fiction is all about preserving the author’s voice while enhancing readability. I’m not here to incite flashbacks of your ruler-wielding sophomore English teacher or lecture you on the value of the Oxford comma (though I’m happy to do so, if you wish). I’m here to remove any grammatical speed bumps that prevent your reader from understanding and enjoying your story. My job, when done correctly, leaves no trace of my own voice behind. Yup, I’m a grammar ninja.