“When I sit at my table to write, I never know what it’s going to be till I’m under way. I trust in inspiration, which sometimes comes and sometimes doesn’t. But I don’t sit back waiting for it. I work every day.”
~ Alberto Moravia
Every author’s manuscript is unique — exhibiting both specific strengths and specific aspects that could benefit from careful editorial attention.
Editorial attention works best when it progresses through sequential, integrated steps that, taken together, produce optimal results.
We will begin with a preliminary phone consultation. And, after a thorough discussion of your project’s book services needs, our first step will be a complete read-through of your manuscript, while making extensive notes for use in Step Two.
The second step will be a lengthy written evaluation (for more information, please see: Manuscript Evaluation), based on the reading notes made in Step One. Typically, the written evaluation will be between twenty and thirty pages long.
Once you have studied the evaluation (it will be emailed), we will discuss the observations and suggestions it contains by email — or by phone, depending upon the complexity of your questions.
We will then agree upon a plan for editing your manuscript, deciding whether the best option is:
- Copyediting: Editing for the small choices — punctuation, grammar, spelling, sentence structure, consistency, accuracy, clearing away redundancy, and so on.
- Substantive Editing: Editing for the larger choices — the storyline or thought-line framework of the book, its pacing, tone, point of view, characterization and dialogue, its meaningful content, underlying themes, key points, and so on. (Please see Developmental Editing for more on this subject.)
- Or both Copyediting and Substantive Editing together.
The third step will be a test edit (usually of the first and second chapters) to determine the actual editorial work needed to prepare your manuscript for publication.
The test edit begins the real process of working together, and allows us to clarify each editing issue and arrive at good solutions. It also provides a working estimate of how much editorial time will be needed for the edit we agreed upon in Step Two.
The fourth step will be a complete edit of your entire manuscript.
Often, it works best to edit and return one chapter at a time, as this allows you to make changes in your electronic file in a manageable way — rather than dealing with hundreds of edited pages at once. Though some prefer the latter, and we are happy to accommodate that style of working, as well.
After I spent six and a half years researching and writing my biography of marimbist Keiko Abe, along with the marimba’s historical context and evolution, I realized that I needed professional help during the book’s final stage. Its two main parts, biographical and historical, did not fit together. And the Abe material also needed to rise above a mere recitation of facts.
But I didn’t know how to fix either problem. So I spent a week researching editors online, and narrowing my choices to just a few.
What impressed me about Laurel Marshfield was the fact that she wasn’t just a mechanical copyeditor. She was a creative editor — a writer — who could rewrite Abe’s story in a compelling way. When I got the first chapter from her, I relaxed. I realized the writing was going to be great because, even though I knew Abe’s story, after reading that chapter, I actually found myself wanting to know what happened next.
Then I tried reading what I’d written and comparing it with what she wrote. Though it was the same information, it was so much not the same. What she did was fabulous.
In fact, when I asked one of my students what she thought of the book, she said, “Well, you couldn’t go wrong writing it, because Keiko Abe had such an interesting life.” At first, I felt disappointed. Abe’s life was so interesting that the book wrote itself, she was saying. Then I realized what had happened. The book was so interesting she didn’t notice that, apart from its pages, she would not have had the impression that Abe’s life was so interesting. The writing conveyed that so well it became ‘invisible’ to my student.”
~ Rebecca Kite, Biographer, Keiko Abe: A Virtuosic Life
To arrange an initial, free, and confidential phone consultation –- to discuss your book services questions and needs –- please fill out our Contact Us form.