Indie Rambles #9 - Editing - Jo-Ann Carson

Indie Rambles #9 – Editing

The Editing Process

After you’ve self-edited and revised your story, with gallons of blood, sweat and tears, and can barely stand to read through it one more time, you’re ready for professional editing. This involves three steps:

  1. Content Editing (which looks at plot development)
  2. Copy Editing (which looks at the mechanics and flow of every line)
  3. Proof Reading (which looks for typos and glaring errors)

What do Seasoned Writers Recommend?

  1. Spend as much money as you can for good editing.
  2. Pay people to do things you’re not good at.

Making Choices

For Covert Danger, I chose not to do step one, the professional content edit. Instead, I worked closely with a terrific critique partner and two strong beta readers.

I put my money into step two, copy editing. The intricacies of punctuation elude me.

I’m planning to do the final proofreading on my own, but if I need help, I’ll get it.

My First Copy Editor

My copy editor is Dr. Philip Newey and his business is called All-read-E. He’s amazing. Check out the first paragraph of his bio:

Writing has always been part of my life. Professionally, I have completed two doctorates, one in Theology and one in Biology, both of which required a very high standard of presentation. I have published several articles in high quality academic journals. I have professional writing experience in both the humanities and the sciences. I have taught at tertiary level in both fields. Perhaps even more importantly, I have worked alongside students in the capacity of a tutor and advisor, as they struggle to put the right words, in the right order and in the right context, down on paper. As a result of this experience, I have an excellent understanding of spelling and grammar. Alongside this professional work, I have been writing stories and other forms of fiction for most of my life. I have two published novels, one other is currently in preparation for publishing, and I am presently writing a fourth. More recently I have been reviewing and proofreading manuscripts as a favour to others. (from his website)

What is the Process Like?

I sent Philip the first seven pages of my book for a free sample edit. These pages have been in numerous contests and have even been through the hands of three other editors, but he still found significant mistakes. He also gave me a quote that blew me away ($407. for a 72 thousand word manuscript- Australian).

I had queried a few editors and they estimated the cost to be about $800 US, and said it would depend on how long it took them. This is understandable, but scary when you’re on a fixed budge. Was I willing to send out my manuscript not knowing what the final cost would be? I had a hard time swallowing that one.

I sent Philip my manuscript. Three weeks later he sent me three documents:

  1. a ‘markup’ version, which  retained all the changes he made.
  2. a ‘revised’ version, in which all the changes had been ‘pre-accepted’, and
  3. a report.

It was like Christmas in an e-mail! I not only received excellent editing, but also first rate coaching. I knew I had issues with commas, but I didn’t realize how much I had to learn about commas, tense, voice in POV and the mighty hyphen. It’s been a steep learning curve.

Was the fact he’s Australian a problem? Not at all. He edited my work for an American audience.

What about the fact that he’s male? Again, not a problem. He’s very professional, and well-read.

My Reference for his Website

I wrote the following testimonial for Philip’s website:

“Philip is an exceptionally thorough and professional copy-editor. But he’s actually more than that. He’s a skilled writing coach. Philip provided me with detailed edits and a summary report of my writing, which is helping me improve my craft. Philip is easy to work with, responds to e-mails promptly, gives solid quotes on prices, and is easy to talk to. He’s like a writer’s Yoda, wise, caring and perceptive. I can’t thank him enough for all his help. And did I mention he’s affordable….”

Do you have any interesting tales about editing?


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0 Replies to “Indie Rambles #9 – Editing”

  1. Loved your illustration, Jo-Ann. I can so relate! And I, too, have “issues” with commas. 🙂 Glad to hear you find an editor that worked for you.

  2. Super summary of your chosen process. I appreciate your honesty and openness. It is truly appreciated. Your sensible and concrete approach reveals that as an indie author you are totally immersed in your process and are taking your time. Getting ‘outside eyes’ is always a good thing.
    Even aside from beta readers and professional editors, I’ve discovered that there’s always ‘something’ that needs to be fixed. At a certain point, after all of your work, you have to have a certain amount of ‘faith’ and release your novel to the world. At that point, it is ‘what it is’. Like a lot of novels ‘out there’ -it will have touches of brilliance and touches of edges that ‘should have been more polished. The point is not to fret but keep looking forward. It is all about the journey – you haven’t reached the end point. Bravo Jo-Ann for sharing your path! You should feel proud of what you’ve accomplished!

    1. Hi Jodie
      Thanks for your kind words.
      I’m getting closer to that jumping-off point of letting go of the story and my knees are knocking. I can tell you understand.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and always being so supportive. You rock.

  3. Love what Jodie said. That recognition that even after it’s finished-finished, it probably won’t be perfect. Was very hard for my lawyer husband to accept. I’ve recently pubbed the print version of my first book. I was shocked! Shocked, I say to still find things that needed tweaking. Not a ton, but still a comma here, a repeated word that didn’t need repeating for emphasis there. Just stuff I thought all of us–content, line editor, Bob and me had gotten. (Pretty certain that’s “me” because it connects back to the subjective “us.” While I pride myself on being pretty good with grammar, as the author, I know in my head what it’s supposed to say, so I don’t always see things.
    I was relieved to read your guy had actually written novels, because academic writing is so different from genre writing where each line is not a complete sentence in dialogue and where the “;” is seldom used.
    Here’s my confession: I really don’t get the difference between copy editing and proof reading. I think proof reading is what you do to get the mechanics and grammar and all of that the way you want it. (Which may not be “correct” because if it’s character’s lines, and he’s not a college professor, he probably won’t get the distinction between when to use who and when to use whom. LOL I think I read that distinction may even be going away with the “experts”!
    Clearly another of your thought-provoking posts, Jo-Ann. I’ll share. And as others say. Thanks for sharing your experience in these posts. I see a book of your own in the future of how to do this Indie business!

    1. Hi Marsha
      Great to have you home from New England. I found your story about still finding errors interesting. I still believed the moment would come when it would be clear, but I’m guessing that moment never arrives.
      Yeah, I struggled with deciding the amount of editing I wanted. When my work went through contests, some wanted more commas, some less. You hear writers talk about how the comma is being used less now, in our genre. Especially in Romantic Suspense, some say. But you know it’s hard to nail something that is changing, and in the end, I decided to err on the side of traditional grammar. I’m sure I’ll hear if people think it’s too old-fashioned.
      People call the editing stages different things and the layers blurr, but my understanding is that the copy-edit looks at the mechanics of every line and the proof read is the final go-over. For example, I just finished making a whole pile of changes as a result of my copy-edit, and in doing so I may have messed up some sections, made spelling errors, typos, omissions etc. Hopefully, I’ll catch them in the proof read, my final read-through.
      Thanks for your support Marsha. You rock.
      Best Wishes

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