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Working with a Book Editor

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Writers sometimes don’t know what to expect from their editors because there are so many variables.

What information should I give an editor?

Am I ready for an editor?

How do I know when I find the right editor?

What is the process?

All of these questions are answered below, and they are specific to me, The Werd Nerd, and my process…from first contact to handing the edited manuscript back to you.

From first contact with The Werd Nerd:

1. Email me with an inquiry. In your email, include:

a. title of your manuscript

b. genre

c. word count

d. a blurb or synopsis

e. what stage you’re in:

I. Have beta readers seen your manuscript?

II. Have you received the beta readers’ feedback yet?

III. Have you self-edited your manuscript?

IV. Has your manuscript been edited by another editor? If so, what kind of editor did you work with—a developmental editor?

These elements are important because book editors need to know what stage of the editing process you are in. Answering these questions is the best way to help us help you.

2. Get to know each other: We will likely email back and forth for a bit to answer each other’s questions and get to know one another before deciding to work together. Typically, this is when I let you know my availability, how much I charge, and how edits will be performed. (I only edit in MS Word with track changes. I do not edit in Google Docs or in any other program. A lot of other writing programs can be converted/saved as a MS Word document on my end, and that is what I do if I receive a non-MS Word file.)

It’s important that writers trust their editors, and this is a great way to get to know each other and determine whether an editor is a good fit. Another way is through an introductory video or phone call.

(The Werd Nerd does not charge authors for video or phone calls.)

3. Sample edit: I will usually provide a sample edit of the first 1,000 words of your manuscript. (The length of a sample edit varies from editor to editor.)

Sample edits provide a writer with a glimpse into what to expect during the editing process.

  • Confidentiality Agreement: A Confidentiality Agreement can be signed prior to the sample edit but is not necessary. No funds will ever be exchanged at this point.

Confidentiality Agreement Template 2022
Download PDF • 145KB

Sometimes writers are wary of sending their manuscripts to strangers, even if they're editors, so a Confidentiality Agreement eases worries and protects both the writer and the editor.

4. Agree on a timeline and price: After careful consideration, I will inform you of a start date and end date for the editing process and provide you with a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA). The NDA attached below is the template that I use, which means the highlighted text changes with each client. In addition, if the word count is significantly less than the example shown in the NDA template below, instances of 25% within the contract will be changed to 50%, and other language may change as well. The editing begins upon receipt of the signed NDA and the deposit or on the date specified, if different.

NDA Template 2023
Download PDF • 184KB

6. Let’s get to work! Upon agreement of all terms (availability, compensation, etc.), an invoice will be sent to you with a request for the deposit (half of the entire cost of editing), which will be due before any work can begin.

Important Note: It is important that you cease all activity (writing, rewriting, self-editing, etc.) on your manuscript when I begin editing.

7. Finishing up: Before the first round of edits is returned to you, I will send another invoice for 25% of the total cost. Upon receiving payment, I will email the edited manuscript to you, and you'll accept/reject track changes and reply to questions I've left as comments within two weeks' time. When you're finished reviewing my first-round edits, you'll send your manuscript back to me for a second-round edit. During this round, I only look for track changes that have been missed, and I reply to your comments. Before I send your second-round edits back, I will send an invoice for the remaining 25% of the total cost.

My professional editing services include: line and copy editing of your entire manuscript, which includes the back-of-the-book blurb and any front and back matter (e.g., dedication, introduction, prologue, acknowledgements, author bio, etc.), along with ensuring continuity by working with the style sheet that I create for your manuscript and updating it as needed.

The style sheet is comprised of an alphabetized list of words unique to your manuscript; word preferences, such as gray instead of grey, faery instead of fairie or fairy, etc.; a list of places mentioned in the manuscript, such as cities, towns, buildings, kingdom names, etc.; and capitalization preferences where proper nouns and specific groups of people or non-people are concerned, such as King Leopold, the Trevi Fountain, fae, heaven, hell, universe, and clan names, for instance. Also included in the style sheet are names of characters throughout the manuscript with physical descriptions of each.

A style sheet ensures consistency throughout your manuscript.

You don't want one of your characters to have blue eyes on page four and brown eyes one hundred pages later, unless, of course, it’s a fantasy novel and their eyes change colors, or they have heterochromia.

If that’s the case, heterochromia will be noted on the style sheet.

To learn more about style sheets, click here to read my blog post "Style sheets: What are they, and do I need one?"

This is hardly the end. Many of my clients stay in touch and write reviews of my professional editing services that can be seen on my Testimonials page. I have several repeat clients who come back because they like working with me, and I enjoy working with them too.

Email me with your inquiry, and let’s see if we’re a good fit.

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