Sample Edits

Am I the right editor for you? I hope so, but the truth is that we won’t know until we try. There’s always the possibility that your text would benefit from someone with different experience or domain knowledge. And sometimes my editing style just doesn’t work for a potential client. We’d rather find that out before we wade into a project, right? Writing is supposed to be enjoyable. Or at least productive.

So for longer projects (2,000 words or more), I always offer a sample edit so we can get to know each other. On the shorter end of that spectrum (2,000 to 5,000 words) I’ll review and mark about 5–10 percent for you—basically, a paragraph or a few paragraphs. For longer works, I review and mark a representative portion (a reasonable chunk of a white paper, a page or three out of a book or book chapter), depending on the size of the project. This has several advantages for both of us:

  • You’ll get a more accurate estimate. Because I’ve been able to review the full manuscript and test it out, neither of us will be surprised by a light copyedit that should really be an extensive line edit.
  • You’ll know I’m confident in my qualifications. Simply put, I’m fascinated by science but a poor choice to edit a biochem textbook. I don’t have the necessary domain knowledge. Sample edits help us both spot those mismatches.
  • You’ll know how long your edit will take. Since I have a good read on the pace (pun fully intended) I’ll know not only how much time I need, but how it will fit in with my other projects.

My goal is always for you to be delighted with my work, and yours. Sample edits are one tool I use to make that possible.

How Sample Edits Work

When you send me your manuscript (and style sheet, if applicable), I will skim through it, then pick a few passages throughout to edit. Generally, I’ll take something from the beginning, middle, and end, so we both have a sense of the whole thing. This avoids the problem of selection bias in my estimates—working only on the text you’ve polished to a laser-fine point, or only on the part you dashed off at midnight and haven’t touched again. If you’ve got a sample from another prospective editor, I’m happy to mark up at least some of the same passage for you, so you can have a direct comparison. I’ll return the edited portions to you along with my proposal and quote, so you don’t have to ferret through the document to find my markups.

With the sample edit, you’ll be able to review my style and see if it elicits any strong reactions. But this is also your chance to provide feedback and make requests. If you want me to do something differently, watch for something specific, or make particular alterations, this is our chance to match up those expectations.

My project is a full-length book. Do I have to provide my full manuscript for a sample edit?

Not necessarily, but it’s the best way to get a firm, reliable estimate. The less of your manuscript I see before producing a quote, the fuzzier the quote will be. If I do a sample edit on, say, a single chapter, there’s a risk that you’re sending me the one chapter that you’ve written and rewritten six or seven times, so it won’t necessarily be representative of the rest of the text. It’s natural to want to put your best foot forward, after all.

That said, many of the books I’ve worked on have progressed chapter by chapter rather than from a completed manuscript. By the time we get to the later chapters we’re each more comfortable with the other’s voice and comment style, so the pace picks up accordingly. In the end, it evens out in the wash.

So for book-length projects, you don’t have to send me the full manuscript. You certainly can and I will not object—it’s by far the best way to get an accurate estimate. But if you’ve only got a chapter or two ready to release, that is enough for us both to get comfortable with the project specs. If you’re currently reworking a previous draft, you can send that along with your final test chapters. I promise I won’t judge you. Your rewrite secrets die with me.

Is my submission confidential?

Absolutely. I do not post or broadcast your work—not even excerpts of it. Your manuscript will not be used as an “editing sample” for another client. You may be confident that I will zealously protect your manuscript and your privacy. If you decide to work with a different editor, I will destroy all copies of any manuscripts you have submitted to me. If you sent paper copies and you want them back, I will return them, otherwise I will shred them. If we work together, I do reserve the right to feature your project on my portfolio page, and to reprint acknowledgments that are included in the published text, but no one else will ever see your unedited manuscript or my corrections and comments. What happens in Track Changes stays in Track Changes.