What does editing look like?

If you’re nervous about having an editor review your work, you’re not alone! Sending your manuscript to someone you’ve never met is daunting. What can you expect? What will they change? What if you don’t like their changes?

Let’s look at a real example and see what’s involved in a copy edit (read about the different types of editing here). This page is from a manuscript I worked on, Chasing Tigers by Stu Tripney, and is used with Stu’s permission – thank you!

A screenshot of a marked-up Word document showing tracked changes and comments

All that blue might look disheartening, so let’s break it down.

The changes I made directly to the text fix grammar and style issues. They include:

  • adjective order
  • comma, apostrophe, and exclamation mark use
  • capitalisation changes
  • verb tense
  • dash formatting
  • word order
  • deleting unnecessary words

These are fairly straightforward changes. They help improve the flow and pace and follow grammar conventions that readers are familiar with.

Now let’s look at my comments. 

Comment one explains how repeating  the word “dirty” works well in this context. I usually suggest deleting repetitions because they can distract readers, but here the repetition builds on the image of the man at the table.

Comment two is a suggestion about word choice. The existing phrasing, “slightly beaten up”, works, but it’s a little wordy. I’ve offered alternatives, but the author could also leave it as is if he prefers his version. In this case, the author kept his phrasing.

Comment three suggests adding extra detail that could benefit the reader. In the final version, the author changed this to “on the east coast”.

Of these three comments, one explains what’s working well and two offer suggestions for improving the text. 

Working with the edited manuscript

I return two versions of the edited manuscript, one with track changes showing (as in the example), and one with track changes accepted. Both show the comment bubbles on the right-hand side.

These two versions allow you to choose how to work through the edits. You may prefer to work through the “track changes showing” document if you want full control of the edit. In this version, you can go through the manuscript and accept or reject each change. (Toggling between “simple markup” and “full markup” can help.)

Or you may prefer to work on the “track changes accepted” version if you want to read through the clean manuscript with all my changes already accepted. You will still see my suggestions for larger changes, queries about clarity or content, or feedback on phrases that work well. And if something doesn’t look right, you can compare the text against the “track changes showing” document to see what has changed.

Let’s take a look at that same page with the tracked changes accepted but the comments still showing:

The same marked-up page but with tracked changes accepted.

Cleaner and much less intimidating, right?

Trust and fit

Trust and fit are essential to great author-editor relationships, and the sample edit is an important part of building trust and assessing fit. When you contact me, I ask for your manuscript so I can complete a sample edit. The sample allows you to see the types of changes and suggestions I make and whether we’ll be a good fit. If you like my changes and suggestions, great! If you don’t, that’s fine. You are free to choose another editor who better understands your work.

I also use this sample to see what kind of editing will be required, and it helps me calculate how much time a full copy edit will take, and thus how much it will cost.

My editorial role is collaborative; I work with you to help create the best version of your work. My suggestions aim to follow your narrative style and your characters’ voices, but no doubt I’ll miss the mark with some. Editing is subjective, and you have the final say in what goes into the manuscript, so feel free to tune the words and language to best suit your story.

Ready for editing?

Are you ready to have your manuscript edited? Or maybe you have questions about the editing process? If so, contact me today and we can start a conversation.