Common Questions

What genres do you edit?

I primarily edit business-oriented nonfiction, including books, articles, presentations, speeches, and web content. My primary interests and experience are in project management, business analysis, and sustainability (including climate change). I also work in creative nonfiction: memoirs, essays, and family history.

What subjects do you edit?

I have extensive experience with business nonfiction: project management (both Agile and waterfall), leadership, management, organizational communication, change management, productivity, sustainability, and more. I am also an enthusiastic reader and hobbyist in an almost embarrassing range of topics: astronomy, genealogy, ecology, climate change, politics, history (especially ancient history), biography, anthropology, paleontology, rhetoric, gaming, internet culture, autism awareness, advocacy, human rights, social sciences, economics, sociology, fiber crafts (yes, really) … You get the idea. I read a lot. Sometimes I will happily take on work in a new topic, just so I can learn about it. But I will never take on work that I don’t feel qualified to address. You’ll never catch me editing an accounting or chemistry text, and advanced physics is way over my head. (Doesn’t keep me from reading it anyway.)

Do you edit fiction?

Right now I specialize in nonfiction editing, but if you would like me to review short-form fiction (particularly speculative fiction) I would be delighted to discuss it with you. This is an area I am actively interested in pursuing.

Can you give me a quote before I show you my work?

Because of the nature of editing work, it’s impossible to provide a reliable estimate without seeing the project. There’s just no substitute, not even reviewing another piece that you wrote on a similar topic. I can provide hourly rates for prospective work on similar projects. (For example, I charge $50/hour for a typical blog post, with a minimum one-hour charge.) For longer projects—white papers, book chapters, books—I can provide a nonbinding range estimate based on initial information you provide, but a manuscript review is required for a binding quote and not-to-exceed pricing.

Do I have to provide my full manuscript to get a sample edit and quote?

For shorter projects like book chapters and white papers, yes. For longer projects, not necessarily, but it’s the best way to get a firm estimate. The less of your manuscript I see before producing a quote, the fuzzier the quote will be. I can also provide an estimate based on a not-quite-final draft if you are still making revisions (with allowances for the variation that introduces). For more information, review my policy on sample edits.

Can I just get a proofread without all the extra editing stuff?

That depends. How long is your manuscript? Is it your first draft? Has another professional editor looked at it yet? Some very select project types may need or get by with only editorial proofreading (presentation slides, short blogs, and video captions come to mind), and in those situations the answer is yes, regardless of length, subject to a preliminary review of the project. But for longer works—speeches, essays, book chapters—it would be unprofessional to provide proofreading without the prior attention of a professional copy editor. I will generally suggest copyediting rather than proofreading for these manuscripts. It is more expensive and will take longer, but you will be vastly more pleased with the final product, as will your publisher and readers. Depending on how extensive the edit is, and how you are publishing it, you may not need a separate proofreader for these projects, or we may work out a project fee that includes an extra pass after the text is finalized. But for book-length projects, the answer is categorically no. I will not proofread a book that has not been professionally edited; we will both be unhappy with the result, and so will your (prospective) publisher. Plus, it’s a very inefficient use of your resources. There is no sense fixing commas in a sentence that may not exist in your final text.

Will you proofread the book you edited for me after I get it back from the publisher?

Depending on your project and the timing, we may be able to work something out here, but keep in mind that a fresh set of eyes is much more likely to catch lingering issues. My goal is always perfection, but in an 80,000-word manuscript that’s difficult to achieve. I am always happy to do a quick review of the typeset pages to see if any problems or missing text leap out, but you should at least consider having different professionals do your copyediting and proofreading. Often, publishers will provide this service through their own staff or contractors.

Do you do rush work?

Yes, when my schedule allows. However I cannot accept rush work on all types of projects, and I will never commit to an unrealistic deadline. (As a general guideline, if you just finished your 80,000-word manuscript and it’s due to the publisher next week, someone is bound to be disappointed.) But don’t panic! There are almost always solutions to a time crunch. Hopefully you will be aware if your project is slipping and your delivery dates are threatened. If so, we can work out strategies for keeping the pipeline moving, and you may be able to negotiate an extension with your publisher. Don’t wait until it’s too late to address the issue. If there’s any way in the world I can help you hit your deadline, I will—within reason. Naturally, there is a surcharge for rush jobs, and my promised turnaround assumes the final text is submitted by the specified deadline.

How long will it take you to edit my manuscript?

Editing times vary depending on the editor’s familiarity with the subject matter, the state of the manuscript, and many other factors. I work to the industry-standard pace, and I have been told by many clients that I turn work around much quicker than expected. Of course, for a detailed edit, sometimes it’s slower. It all depends on the state of the manuscript, which is why sample edits and preliminary reviews are so helpful.

Why don’t you quote per word or per page?

I prefer to quote per hour or per project because, like most people, that’s the way I think about what I need to earn. Also, per-word quotes tend to be confusing on more extensive edits; they may not take into account the text generation that in-depth editing can require. To assure you that I am working as fast as possible while still producing quality work, I also provide a project not-to-exceed and a detailed statement of work, so you won’t have any unpleasant surprises. If you’re looking for a general guideline, it’s fair to guess about a penny per word for proofreading, about $0.025 for editing, and anywhere from $0.50 to $1.00 per word for writing, but those are just estimates. If you want to compare my project bid to a per-word quote from another editor, a little basic math will get you there. If you have received a per-page bid that you’d like to compare to mine, note that I follow the EFA standard of 250 words per page (roughly equivalent to double-spaced pages in 12-point Courier). If you have any questions about a quote, please don’t be shy about asking. As always, keep in mind that if price is your only consideration in choosing a service provider, you are probably getting what you paid for.

Can I submit a chapter at a time?

Yes, I’ve done chapter-by-chapter work in the past, and I’m happy to work that way if it is best for you. But you should be aware that working this way may make it harder to spot issues with the full text if we’re collaborating on a developmental edit, and it may increase the overall cost of the project if we need to do additional passes on previous chapters to harmonize them with later text.

What are my payment options?

I accept payment by PayPal, Venmo, Chase QuickPay, check, or ACH transfer (in no particular order of preference). For new clients on manuscripts over 10,000 words, I request a 30% deposit up front. Thereafter I can submit progress invoices monthly or at project milestones, depending on what’s most appropriate for your project. (We’ll agree on this in advance, of course.)

Is my deposit refundable?

If we need to cancel the contract after work has already begun, your deposit is refundable less any fees for work already performed and a 10% cancellation fee.

Will you guarantee my book will be acceptable to an agent or publisher?

I wish I could! But even a perfect manuscript has to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe they’ve already bought their quota for the year in your topic or genre. Maybe the editor needs a different treatment for their audience. So many things can factor into whether a manuscript is accepted for publication. No professional editor should ever guarantee you that your work will be published if you hire them.

Will you work directly with my publisher?

Of course. If you already have a publisher (congratulations!) and would like me to work to house style and your project deadlines, I will be delighted to accommodate you both.

Will you help me find an agent or submit my manuscript?

I do not provide query letters or agent submissions, but I may be able to help you find qualified assistance in your subject area.

What style guides do you use?

As most of my work is in books and business, I default to The Chicago Manual of Style. However, I am also familiar with AP style, and I can use APA and MLA reference guides as well. Most businesses also have certain in-house style rules, even if they haven’t been formally codified in a style guide yet. I’m happy to follow your internal house style, or to help you create one if appropriate.

I notice you use singular “they” all over your website. What kind of editor are you?

The flexible kind. While the use of they as an epicene pronoun is not strictly to style in Chicago or AP, it’s widely accepted in common, informal use. You probably use it when speaking without even thinking about it. In 2017, both Chicago and AP loosened the long-held formal traditions (ever so slightly), and even some venerable publications like The Washington Post have decided to allow it. This follows an ancient tradition in English, reaching back at least to the 1500s. It’s familiar, it’s flexible, and it works. That said, singular they is still frowned on in many formal contexts. Often, the problem can be dodged completely by recasting a sentence. But I will always follow your preferred or house style when editing, so if singular they is like nails on a chalkboard for you or your readers, have no fear; we won’t use it.