I grew up in an interesting time, in that generation when home computers were just starting to become normal. I also learned to type on a typewriter in a class in high school, where I picked up a habit that I’ve since had to unlearn.
We were taught to place two spaces after the punctuation at the end of each sentence. Perhaps you can identify with this habit?
However, modern word processing programs are designed to automatically adjust the spacing, making multiple spaces unnecessary and even counterproductive.
You may have heard me mention manuscript evaluations before. I even offer them among the other services listed on my website. But what are they, and what can they do for an author?
In the editing world, there are several services that overlap, and which ones you choose depends on a lot of factors. (For more on how to decide what kind of editing you need, see my blog post on the subject.)
One of the most common questions people ask when looking to hire an editor is How much will it cost me? It’s a completely reasonable and important question, but it’s also deceptively difficult to answer.
It’s similar to hiring a contractor to do some remodeling on your house. You don’t want to overpay, but you also want someone who will do a quality job and finish the project within the deadline and budget.
Microsoft Word is the go-to for most word processing. While its quirks will occasionally drive you up the wall, it’s still the best software on the market.
Part of its appeal, especially for editing, is the Track Changes feature. Track Changes allows everyone working on a document to see what changes have been made, easily accept or reject those changes, and communicate through the Comments feature.
However, if you’re unfamiliar with Track Changes, don’t worry; you’re not alone. If you haven’t been trained as an editor or worked with editors, it might be one of those million functions of Word that you’ve just never thought about learning.
Let’s face it. Word has a lot of features, and very few of us have the time to learn them all. And generally, it’s really not worth our time to learn them all.
But if you’re serious about writing and plan to work with an editor at some point, you will need Track Changes. Fortunately, it’s really not that complicated.
Here are a few things you can learn to make working with your editor a little smoother.
If you plan to go the route of traditional publishing, you may want to hire a professional to help you get your manuscript in good enough shape to catch the eye of an agent or acquisitions editor, but the bulk of the burden for editing will fall on the publisher.
However, if you plan on self-publishing, you are your own publisher and are responsible for making sure your work is ready to meet your readers’ standards. But many self-published authors (especially those new to the craft) don’t have a lot of funds to throw at the project.
While it’s really not a good idea to try do everything yourself, there are some tasks that can be done for free or at a lower cost, freeing up your funds to pay a professional for the things you can’t do on your own.
Whether you write or edit, you probably spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen, and you’re undoubtedly familiar with the fatigue and strain that comes along with it.
Maybe your eyes start to cross or refuse to focus on the words on the screen after a certain amount of time. Some people develop headaches or even more troubling maladies.
However, in our present world, working purely with pen and paper just isn’t practical, and most of us don't have the funds to hire someone to do the typing for us, so what can we do to continue with the work we love?
Sara has decided to self-publish. She’s written, rewritten, and revised her novel, and all her family and friends rave about how amazing it is. She had several of them check it over, but she wants to get it right, so she sends it off to a carefully selected professional editor, Jack.
Jack and Sara have agreed to follow Chicago style, so he gets to work on the editing process. He fixes all of the spelling and punctuation issues. He makes sure the main character’s best friend’s name doesn’t suddenly change from John to Jim in chapter seven.
After weeks of hard work, he sends the manuscript back to Sara, who is horrified by the changes to her baby. Why are all of the numbers written out instead of numerals? It just looks wrong! And the Oxford comma? Just no.
She wants it just right, so she sends it back to Jack who is happy to follow her preferences. And it’s not a big deal because a second round of editing was included in his quoted fee.
Finally, everything is just the way Sara wants it, but she wants to be absolutely sure everything is perfect, so after getting her novel back from the designer/typesetter, she sends it off to a proofreader.
But when it comes back, she’s once again horrified. All of the numerals are written out again, and that infernal Oxford comma has snuck back in!
What happened? How could it have possibly gone so wrong?
I love listening to music and podcasts while I’m doing other tasks. Having something going in the background makes mundane tasks like cleaning or gardening go more quickly and smoothly.
There are many authors who listen to music while they write and will even provide their fans with a playlist of what they listened to while writing each book.
I, on the other hand, can’t have anything with words going on when I’m trying to write. No podcasts, no music, no conversations, not even a television running close enough that I can distinguish any individual words.
Thinking about this topic, I started to wonder what kind of space you need for your best writing to come out.
So, you’ve decided to hire a freelance editor.
Whether you’re self-publishing or just want someone to help clean up your manuscript before you submit it to a publishing house or a potential agent; whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction; or whether you have a blog, an article, or a full-length book, an editor can be a valuable partner in improving your writing and reaching your goals.
But there are so many editors to choose from. How do you pick the right one?
Finding the right editor is about more than just evaluating their technical skills, which is difficult enough. Here are a few suggestions for what to look for and ask about when deciding if an editor is right for you.
When you think of humor in writing, do you immediately think of comedians like Tina Fey? Or maybe satirists like Mark Twain or Terry Pratchett? Or maybe Erma Bombeck or Janet Evanovich?
All of these writers are masters of their craft, and the literary and entertainment world would be a much darker place without them. But humor doesn’t have to take center stage to exist in your writing.
From sci-fi/fantasy to Westerns, from romance to horror, even nonfiction, humor can enhance any genre or subject.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.