1. About

I am an experienced professional proofreader, beta reader and copy editor and can offer my services at lower rates than most. I can’t promise you will find an agent or publisher, I can’t promise to find every single error, I am not infallible, but I can promise you this: Work proofed or edited by me will increase your chances of acceptance and success and hopefully help you to improve your writing skills along the way and ensure your readers have a book you can truly be proud of.  I handle any type of document, from letter to novel, website text to brochure, hardcopy or electronic. No proofreading or editing job is the same, some need more work than others and I am happy to discuss your requirements, working with you through the whole process. If you self-publish it is all the more important to ensure your work is the best it can be in terms of spelling, punctuation, grammar and layout and a whole lot more besides. I can help you achieve that goal and make your book stand head and shoulders about others.

My working career has always revolved around the written word in one form or another; from typing to running a wordprocessing agency, from typesetting manuscripts to proofing and editing all manner of books, legal and statutory documents and much more besides. Wearing a writer’s hat, I have attended countless writing seminars, courses, conferences, and a member of small and large writing groups and communities. I’ve done the jumping through hoops and agonised over that wretched synopsis, learned what is accepted practice and what is not. Thus, whenever I read a book, be it conventionally published or otherwise, I cringe at the errors in the proofing and editing spotted in an increasing number of these books. It’s my mission to seek out and destroy errors and thereby improve the whole reading and writing experience for everyone.

Editing and Proofreading

Each job is individual and the prices here are only guidelines, as some books need far more work than others. The first thing I ask my clients is for them to ask themselves what they want from an “editor”, as each one works differently and some do more than others – most concentrate or specialise on one particular aspect, and expectations and requirements have altered dramatically in recent times. Second, I expect my clients to take on board what I recommend and say. There is little point in paying an editor and then ignoring what they suggest. I don’t expect writers to agree with everything put forward but any suggestions are made to help the author make their book the best it can be and bring out the writer and the story’s full potential, without it being a painful process. There is nothing to be gained in being precious over one’s writing and ability and story and no suggestion or observation is ever made as personal criticism or slight.

Also, authors must appreciate editing takes time; it is not something that can be rushed and writers need to allow plenty of time for the editor to work, for themselves to do any further rewrites or amendments, and for final proofreading. I do not like working to tight deadlines, particularly if they are of the author’s own making. It achieves nothing for neither party. I don’t need to see a first chapter to decide if I want to work with an author – that’s not what I’m about, nor do I require a synopsis, but should you need advice or help or comment/edit on one you have written, I can also help.

How I Work

Editing

1)      I expect the author to have already done several rewrites and edited their book to within an inch of its life before it comes to me. There is little if anything to be gained in an editor working on a first draft if the author is going to do several rewrites of their own volition afterwards, as that is when mistakes and errors and things missed occur and it will duplicate effort, in turn increasing costs. Bear in mind a first draft is rarely, if ever, ready for publishing immediately without further work being needed.

2)      I normally conduct a complete read of the mss from the viewpoint of a reader, with a view on readability, plot and plot holes in it etc, characterisation and plausibility. (This process is not to be confused with a beta read.) This will also highlight where I think there are issues with structure, style, word use, head hopping, viewpoint, and omnipotent voice, tense, punctuation. I’ll look for repetitive phrases, words, scenes, anomalies, etc. At this point I do not correct the text itself. I will make a report with my comments, suggestions, ideas, observations or otherwise pointing things out. During this stage I may on occasion go back to the author and query a point if needed.

3)      I cannot comment if any novel is suitable for a particular market nor do I recommend agents or publishers.

4)      I do not check facts – that is the author’s responsibility and I always suggest to writers that they ensure they have researched from several reliable sources. Wikipedia is not a reliable source, nor are people’s blogs or memoirs. However, if I come across something that I know is incorrect I will point this out.

5)      What I am not is a grammar geek. If something reads right and, more importantly, sounds right, I’m not going to tweak and twiddle to make it grammatically correct to appease the grammar buffs at the risk of losing spontaneity and the author’s own voice. To me, that’s not what reading a novel is about.

6)      What I am not is perfect, and I do miss things. Everyone does.

7)      Different authors work in different ways from this point forward. Some like to work through the whole book on the amendments, others prefer working in sections, ie a chapter at a time and send each back to me for rereading, comment etc. During this stage, I am invariably always available to answer any query or comment or discuss via email.

Proofreading

8)      Once the author and I are happy with all the rewrites and changes I will then do a final proofread/check before the mss goes to a publisher. This final proofing is vital as it is during rewrites and amending that mistakes are often made or overlooked. Also a point changed in one part of a book can affect something said either before or after – this all needs to be reread. Proofing involves checking and amending punctuation, grammar, consistency and layout standardisation. This process entails two or three work-throughs of the complete document. I will provide the author with two electronic copies: one a “clean” version with all the amendments accepted, the other showing all the amendments as track changes, so the author can see what has been done.

9)      I use the Collins English Dictionary and the Guardian newspaper style sheet in respect of accepted spellings/capitalisations particularly with trade names etc, to UK publishing standards whilst accepting there are often variations in the spelling of some words.

10)  I do not amend/convert books to American spellings.

11)  Payment: I require 50% of the agreed fee in advance of commencing work and balance of the remainder upon completion. Clients may choose to have either one or other or both parts of the service.

12)  All correspondence is conducted via email, acceptance by both parties is deemed as binding and legal.

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