TIPSY Today™ Blog with Rogena & Colleen | A Footprint of RMJ Editing & Manuscript Service, Colleen Snibson Editing, and Two Red Pens Editing
By Rogena Mitchell-Jones & Colleen Snibson
A little "Lions, tigers, and bears... Oh my" going on today. Sorry about the ear-worm from the Wizard of Oz. This really has nothing to do with the movie or book, though. Let's move on to the real reason we're here today. Editors.
Why do you need an EDITOR?
Nothing destroys the credibility of your writing faster than publishing an error-filled book. No one gets a second chance to make a great first impression. And you can't undo an overabundance of negative reviews. We think those are three very good reasons to hire a copy editor.
Hiring a copy editor shouldn't be an option but a requirement. Every writer and author — even an editor — needs a copy editor. Period. End of story.
So let's discuss the differences between a copy editor, a line editor, and a proofreader . . .
What is line editing?
Line editing is when an editor looks more at sentence structure and the flow of the sentence, paragraph, or scene than at punctuation and typographical errors, though they will make corrections as they find a missing period or misplaced comma. Their primary focus is on tightening your writing, making it clearer and more concise, or maybe expanding your sentences or paragraphs where needed.
They may or may not correct grammar and punctuation if that isn't their strong suit. Be sure to ask your editor exactly what they can and will do for you.
A few things a line editor will look for should include the following:
What is copy editing?
Copy editing (also copyediting, sometimes abbreviated ce) is the process of reviewing and correcting written material to improve accuracy, readability, and fitness for its purpose, and to ensure that it is free of error, omission, inconsistency, and repetition. (Wikipedia)
Included in copy editing is what's called mechanical or structural editing. This type of editing is checking the author's writing for punctuation, grammar, syntax, numbers, possessive case, omissions, misspellings, and consistency in capitalization and spelling as well as consistency in the story line.
The copy editor will follow a house style. In freelance editing and self-publishing, this style might be your editor's recommended style or it could be a combination of what the author and editor agree on.
For book editing, the standard style guide used is the Chicago Manual of Style. It really is our Grammar Bible.
Here is a list of a few issues a copy editor will address, including but not limited to the above items listed under line editing:
So what is proofreading?
In the self-publishing industry, the duties of a proofreader have changed from what is standard at a publishing house like Random House or Simon and Schuster. Proofing at a publishing house is typically done via a printed copy of the book or a formatted-for-print PDF, and they will look for layout issues of the typeset copy.
What the self-publishing world calls proofreading is actually a minor copy edit. We refer to proofreading the same way at RMJ Editing, Colleen Snibson Editing, and Two Red Pens to stay consistent with what is expected by independent authors.
We are working to change how we look at this step, though. We'll continue to refer to it as a proofread but maybe we'll add a slash to it — proofread/minor copy edit.
Proofreading/minor copy editing should be done only after all initial copy and line edits have been addressed.
To keep your formatter or interior book designer from having to spend hours making corrections from a PDF, we perform all edits within the Word document using Track Changes.
If you hire someone other than Two Red Pens to do a proofread/final minor copy edit, they should only check for missed punctuation, misused words (they're/there/their or your/you're), and minor issues with the story itself. They shouldn't rewrite/recast sentences or make any major edits without first checking with your lead copy editor.
The best order of working with a team of editors would be to work with a writing coach first, then content editing, developmental editing, line editing, and, finally, copy editing—major and minor or major and proofread. All of these, of course, cost money. Whatever you do, don't skip the copy edit.
The FINAL step should be to check the aforementioned ready-for-print PDF for any layout issues, including headers and footers/page numbers, chapter titles, table of contents, and other things added after editing. THIS is what should be done via a PDF or a printed proof copy of the book. Let's call this what it really is — the layout proof.
Here are a few items that should be checked prior to publication—a true final proof:
And what do we offer?
We — Colleen and Rogena — offer BOTH copy editing and line editing individually. Or you can hire both of us. As Two Red Pens, we combine our strengths. As two seasoned, professional editors, we are able to do both copy and line editing well. We know our skills as rules-based copy editors — and with our knowledge, we can help you break the rules when necessary. We are also able to do amazing line editing without changing the voice of the author. Our strength is in being able to 'hear' the author's voice and make our changes flow with his or her voice.
When working with us, one will do the initial edit as your chief editor, focusing on readability, restructuring sentences when necessary, consistency in the plot including timeline, and perfecting words, sentences, and paragraphs, and work on correcting grammar and punctuation. The other will work as your co-editor and will focus on the minute details of anything previously missed. This gives you the perfect combination of copy and line editing without breaking the bank.
Most would consider the two edits the same as receiving a full copy edit and a final proofread. We tend to agree — only better. By hiring Two Red Pens as your editors, you will receive two complete copy and line edits. With our Two Red Pens service, doing a final review (layout proof) of the print-ready file should be all you need once we have finished.
You could consider doing a final read-through yourself (which we highly recommend) or have your alpha/beta readers or trustworthy friends do a final read, as well.
Make sure the final reader you choose doesn't introduce new errors . . . or add and remove commas and such without checking with your editors. In fact, give them a PDF or an ePub to read.
Your copy editor should have a rules-based understanding of grammar, including punctuation and more. They probably even have the Chicago Manual of Style close to memorized — or at least at their fingertips. (We have the aforementioned rules-based understanding and utilize CMOS, both in hard copy and online.)
We use the Chicago Manual of Style across the board and use Merriam-Webster Unabridged, Merriam-Webster Collegiate, and the free online version of Merriam-Webster for our US clients, as well as Oxford, Cambridge, and Macquarie for our British, UK, Australian and other clients.
When we provide copy editing and line editing services, we do this digitally on the client's Microsoft Word document using Track Changes. This saves the integrity of the manuscript so the author is able to see every change and/or deletion made to the file. We don't offer any editing via a physical copy of the book or a printed copy of the manuscript. We only offer digital editing.
NEW: The true FINAL proof — the Layout Proof:
After we complete both rounds of editing (one by Rogena and the other by Colleen), and if we are also providing formatting, we will now both review the final proof PDF prior to the author publishing the book, checking for any layout issues. We will also do this if someone else has formatted the book for a small fee.
However, the author should do the same. The author should look through every page of the paperback PDF provided by your designer to make certain it's as you want it printed. Double and triple check it.
When you upload your file to any online publisher, you need to flip through every page there, too. You'd be surprised what might jump out at you.
And then, if you have time (and you should plan to have time), you can order a copy of the printed book as a proof. When you receive the proof, check it over closely before ordering multiple copies for signed paperbacks and events. It could save you in the end.
You know what else?
If you hire us and request our Two Red Pens editing package, our prices are comparable to hiring a copy editor and a proofreader, but you will have the benefit of TWO seasoned editors working on your manuscript. Colleen and I collaborate together throughout the entire process so you can be certain we are making your words and final manuscript the best it can be.
There is no such thing as an error-free book. It just isn't possible. What one editor deems an error might be correct in the mind of another. Truth. There are rules and then there are styles and preferences. Copy and line editing really is an art.
If you hire us, we'll do our very best to get your book close to perfect. We promise.
How do copy editors compare to other types of editors?
There are other types of editors — developmental, content — and also writing coaches to help better your story, to make your story flow, your characters fleshed, and your story tight. They DO play an important role in making your book the best it can be. If you want to take your book to the next level, consider hiring one. They may or may not know all the grammar rules a copy editor knows — some line editors might not, either. Be sure to do coaching or developmental edits BEFORE the copy/line editing step, not after.
Rest assured, with Two Red Pens, Colleen Snibson Editing, and RMJ Editing and Manuscript Service, you will see we know the rules — and we know when and how to break them.
So after the writing, the coaching, the developmental edit, and once the beta readers have made all their suggestions, the order should be as follows: line edit/copy edit, proofread/minor copy edit, and then the layout proof.
Check out this link for more information about copy editors and proofreaders from NY Book Editors. This will tell you what a "real" proofreader does . . . or used to do. Copyediting vs Proofreading
The Book Designer has a great article on the differences, too. They also discuss why editors and proofreaders will want to view the formatted file for a final review, but the Word document is extremely important for that final proofread, as well. Copyediting or Proofreading?
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Rogena Mitchell-Jones | RMJ Manuscript Service LLC | www.rogenamitchell.com
Colleen Snibson | Colleen Snibson Editing | www.colleensnibsonediting.com
Two Red Pens Editing | www.tworedpens.com
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