An Editor’s Answers Part 3

The past couple of weeks, I posted answers to questions I may use for my FAQ section on my editorial blog. This is the last post in the series. Here we go.

-What if you edit my work, and after I revise it, I need you to take another look at it?

I call this a “second read”. There are two ways to handle this. If you only want me to look at a few scenes or chapters, we’d do writing coaching. However, if you’d like me to proofread the full manuscript to ensure the changes you made work and that you didn’t add any spelling or grammar mistakes, you’d need to book this as a full project. If you know you’re going to want this service when you book developmental copyediting, figure out how long you’ll need to revise and resubmit, and book the second read at the same time. For example, if Lisa knows she’ll need one month to revise her MS, she’ll book the developmental copyediting service and the second read, allowing a month in between for revisions. Let’s say her deadline for developmental copyediting is March 15. She’ll book the second read for April 15. This ensures she’ll reserve the slots and won’t have to wait for a slot to open up for the second read.

It’s important to think of this when you book developmental copyediting, because I book so far in advance. Writers who don’t book both services at the same time, either wait for my next available slot or go without the service.

A second read is for clients who originally booked developmental copyediting with me. The second read won’t take as long as the original service, because I only have to go over the manuscript once. While I expect to see changes, the basis story and characters should remain the same. If not, this wouldn’t be considered a second read.

A second read is only $0.01/word. This service is especially important for those who are self-publishing, but those who are going the traditional route can benefit from it as well.

-Do you accept every potential client as a client? How do you decide whom you’ll accept as a client?

No, I don’t take on every client who comes my way. I specialize in certain genres. If the author writes in a genre I’m not familiar with, I won’t take him on as a client. If a writer doesn’t have a PayPal account or credit card, which are the only two methods of payment I accept, I can’t help him. If I read a sample from the manuscript, and I don’t feel the work is ready for editing, I will encourage the writer to continue to write and learn the craft. It doesn’t make sense for me to edit a story that will need to be completely rewritten.

-Why do you ask for a nonrefundable deposit when booking the dates?

The current demand for my services means I’m often turning away clients or booking them several months or more in advance. Reserving a date for services means I won’t commit to any other editing projects in that time slot. The nonrefundable deposit keeps me from a loss of income if a client backs out of a project when I’ve already turned other clients away for the time slot. I’ve found projects run more smoothly since I implemented this policy as it implies a strong commitment from both my client and myself. This is standard policy for many editors.

-But you book so far out, how am I supposed to know if my book will be ready by then or how many words it will be?

If you’ve already written at least one book, you could gage how long you took to write your last book and assume the same for your next manuscript. Of course, you’d also have to consider circumstances in your life. Did your wife just have a baby? Are you planning an extended vacation? Are you going to move or renovate your home? Think of things that may not have interfered with your writing time as you wrote the last book but that will affect you this time around, and plan accordingly. The same goes for your word count. If your last book was 90K, then assume this one will be at least as long. When you have to estimate the word count, I prefer you stick to the high range. That way, there’s less of a risk that your time slot will be too short for your project. However, if you discover as you’re writing that you underestimated, let me know as soon as possible. The sooner I know, the better the chances that I can accommodate the extra pages.

-What happens if I need to cancel our contract?

Unfortunately, sometimes things happen and you have to break the contract. This is usually for two reasons: you suddenly need the money, or you’ve gained an agent or publishing contract and no longer need my services. To avoid the latter, it’s best if you don’t actively seek representation or publication before or while an editor is working on your manuscript. Technically, if you feel you need an editor, it means your story isn’t polished, and you shouldn’t be contacting agents or publisher until your novel is the best it can be.

If you cancel the contract before your start date AND I can fill your slot, I’ll refund all payments, including the deposit. If you cancel the contract before your start date, but I’m unable to fill the slot, that means a loss of revenue for me. I’ll refund your money minus the nonrefundable deposit. If you cancel the contract during your time slot, I’ll return the work I’ve completed and charge you for that work. After that, I’ll refund any remaining balance minus the nonrefundable deposit.

-How has your business changed over the years?

When I first started editing, you could say I wore a few hats. I edited and proofread all sorts of things from resumes, college papers, and website content to short stories and novels. Like most editors, when first starting out, I was getting my feet wet and deciding what I liked to edit and what I didn’t, or what I felt comfortable editing and what just didn’t feel like my cup of tea. My business was originally in Canada, and local clients hired me. By the time I moved to the US, I was getting more familiar with the Internet, and took a leap of faith by putting my business into “Cyberland”. What a difference that made.

I started working part-time hours, because my twins were still at home with me, but once they were in school, I switched to full-time, and that’s when my business really took off. I went from booking up to three months ahead of time to scheduling over a year in advance.

I also realized there were certain genres I didn’t feel comfortable editing, while I loved working on others, so I made a list of genres in which I specialize.

More and more of my clients are going with the second read, so I’m trying to schedule those when I first book the client. Because that means a portion of my projects will be second reads, which is basically proofreading the revisions, I’m leaning toward eliminating my proofreading packages for full manuscripts. I love substantive/big picture editing and developmental copyediting and want to make sure I have plenty of those projects on my schedule.

Looking for an editor? I’m taking names for March 2014, but I’m not booking time slots for 2014 until sometime this summer. Those on my list get first dibs.

Otherwise, I could possibly help you with your query letter and/or synopsis. Check out the packages here. Or maybe you’d be interested in one of my private classes. To read more about these online courses, go here.

Lynnette Labelle

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