Here are some of the questions I’ve received over the years.
Scheduling and Booking Projects:
-How far in advance do you book editing projects?
I can usually fit smaller projects like short stories, online classes, and query letter/synopsis critiques into my schedule. I can sometimes fit a manuscript evaluation report, developmental editing, or a developmental/line editing combo into my schedule, but it’s best to book these larger projects ahead of time. I generally book two to four months in advance and sometimes have a waiting list beyond that point. Does that mean you shouldn’t contact me because you want the work done sooner than that? Not necessarily. It’s always good to check my availability. I might have a cancellation and will need to fill that time slot.
-Even if your schedule is full, can you still fit me in?
It depends on my schedule at the time, what type of editorial service you need, and the project’s length. There are times when I have partial time slots available. This means, I might be able to fit you in if you’re open to the project taking longer than it normally would. For example, if I have a half slot available, I can only work on the project half the time I would normally spend on it, so it’ll take twice as long to complete. Sometimes a new client will book half slots (if that’s all that’s available) in order to get onto my schedule, and they book their next editing service immediately (for several months out) so they’ll have full slots and a faster turnaround time for that novel.
-Do you work on more than one project at a time?
Editing is my career. In order to keep my income stable (or as stable as possible), I need to work on a few projects a day. This works well for me, because the variety forces me to never get “lost in the story” and to keep the detail-oriented side of my brain on task. This doesn’t mean I don’t love the stories or feel passionate about their characters. However, it allows me to keep my distance, which is what anyone needs when editing a manuscript whether they’re self-editing or editing someone else’s work.
What are time slots?
Because I work on more than one project at a time, I divide my days into time slots. How many pages I do in one slot depends on the project and the amount of work involved.
-When you say you’re booked until (fill in the month), does that mean you can’t help me with my query letter and synopsis until then?
Not at all. When I talk about being fully booked, I mean I can’t take on any more large projects like editing a full manuscript. I can usually fit a query letter and/or synopsis critique into my schedule.
Query Letters and Synopses:
-How long does it take to do a query letter/synopsis critique?
This depends on my schedule and the writer’s response time. I can usually return a query letter or synopsis critique within a couple days. Then, I wait for the writer to make the necessary changes and send the work back to me. There’s really no way for me to estimate the turnaround time for this service, because it’s a joint effort.
-Why do you ask for my characters’ GMCs (goals, motivations, conflicts) for the query letter/synopsis critique?
GMCs (goals, motivations, conflicts) form a story’s skeleton. Having the GMCs in front of me when I’m critiquing your query letter and/or synopsis allows me to ensure the necessary information is in its proper place.
-Why don’t you critique the query letter and synopsis at the same time?
I prefer to start with the query letter to ensure the blurb is as tight as it can be. Once that’s complete, I move on to the one-page synopsis, which builds off the query blurb. After that, I look at the longer synopsis, which should contain at least parts, if not most, of the one-page synopsis, along with added details (about the characters and/or plot). So, because these pieces build off each other, it only makes sense to finish one before moving on. This doesn’t mean you need to have more than one synopsis. It’s simply to illustrate how I work on these packages.
-When you talk about revisions in the query letter/synopsis packages, what do you mean?
First, you send me the query letter, and I critique it. Then, you have a chance to revise and resubmit twice. This amounts to three critiques (by me) and two revisions (by you).
-Do you edit book cover blurbs? How much do you charge for that service?
Yes, I edit book cover blurbs. If you want me to critique it and help you revise the blurb, I would charge the same as a query letter critique (along with revisions). Prices can be found here: http://labelleseditorialservices.com/rates/.
-Are your classes taught online? If so, how does that work?
Yes, my classes are taught online. When I do a group class, we meet in a Yahoo group. My private classes are taught via e-mail exchanges.
-How do I register for your classes?
Please contact me to register for my classes and to discuss the class schedule.
-Do you only edit novels?
I mostly edit novels, but I have a few clients who write novellas and short stories. As long as they fall under the genres in which I specialize, I’ll edit most projects.
-Will my story be ready to submit to agents or self-publish after a developmental/line editing combo?
The developmental/line editing combo is where I’ll look at the plot, characters, pacing, and craft. I won’t pay attention to grammar, spelling, or punctuation. I recommend you have the edit done, make the necessary changes, and hire a proofreader or copy editor to catch any grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes before you send your manuscript to an agent or self-publish.
-What is a manuscript evaluation report?
A manuscript evaluation report is a report I write after I’ve evaluated your manuscript. I read the novel and take notes, and write the report focusing on the story’s strengths and weaknesses. I don’t offer specific suggestions on how to fix the problems, nor do I pinpoint exactly where the issues may be found in the manuscript. Think of this report as something similar to what an agent might send a writer before she signs her as a client or as comments a beta reader might give you. A more detailed explanation and sample of a manuscript evaluation report can be found here. If you’re looking for more feedback and issues flagged on the manuscript itself, you might be interested in developmental editing or a developmental/line editing combo.
-How does writing coaching work?
Unlike most of the services I offer, which are based off a per word fee, writing coaching is calculated by the hour (or in minutes). I use a timer so if I’m interrupted, I’m not using your minutes to answer the door or take a phone call. Instead, I stop the timer and don’t start it until I’m able to return to work. I report back to you with a balance in your account, so you’ll know how many minutes are remaining and can decide if you need to purchase more.
Writing coaching has many uses: brainstorming, figuring out GMCs, plotting, revising a scene or chapter, and even getting feedback on chapters as you write them.
Writing coaching is a service that requires back and forth communication between both parties. I can’t schedule writing coaching into my calendar, because this is a drop-in service. The writing coaching client needs to understand there might be times when I won’t be able to get to their work for a week or longer (depending on my schedule). This is hardly ever a problem, but priority must go to projects booked in time slots so I can ensure to meet my deadlines.
-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’ll 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.
– Can you call me so we can talk about my project and your services?
My preferred policy is to conduct business via e-mail. This grants both parties a record of the conversation and usually ends up being more efficient and to the point. I find e-mail communication is also more responsive since I’m frequently online and can often reply to most e-mail within an hour or two (unless replying means correcting an assignment or critiquing a query letter or synopsis—those projects will be added to my schedule). Plus, I schedule my days in time slots and find it easier to correspond through e-mail, because I can do this in between projects. In the rare instances where a client requests a discussion over the phone, we schedule a time, and the client is billed in advance. The conversation time is then debited toward an allowance of prepaid minutes with unused portions credited back to the client upon project completion.
-What’s your turnaround time?
This varies depending on the amount of work involved and my schedule at the time. When you contact me, let me know what you’d like as a deadline for the project. If I can’t complete the work in that time frame, I’ll let you know. If you have a flexible deadline, I’ll calculate how long the work would take based off my schedule and give you a start and end date.
-How much do your services cost?
I offer a variety of editorial services. You can find prices for those services here or under the “rates” tab.
-Why won’t you do a sample edit for me?
I offer sample edits (for the developmental/line editing combo only) so potential clients can see my editorial style. If I’ve declined a sample edit for you, it’s probably for one of the following reasons:
-I’m completely booked and am not currently available for your project
-the genre of your story isn’t a genre I edit
-your project is a short story, novelette, novella, or partial manuscript
-your story didn’t fit my comfort level or personal taste
-you were looking for a manuscript evaluation report or a developmental edit only
-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 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.
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’m unable to fill the slot, it 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 do I make payments?
Payments are made through PayPal. The balance is due, in full, a week before I begin the project.
-What is a payment plan, and when can it be used?
Payment plans come in many forms. Basically, you decide how much you want to pay and when, as long as the balance is paid, in full, a week before I begin the project. Some exceptions may apply. With a payment plan, payments can be made weekly, biweekly, or monthly—although, some writers break the total into quarters, thirds, or halves, and pay that way.
Payment plans are only for full manuscript services. They should not be used for smaller projects like classes or query letter critiques.
-Do you edit manuscripts all day long?
While editing takes up a good portion of my day, it’s not the only thing I do to keep my business running. I respond to e-mails from clients and potential clients, and I do sample edits. I invoice clients and keep my records in order. I network through Facebook, Twitter, and Triberr—although, if you follow me, you’ll see I’m not on all that often. Plus, I blog once a week.
-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 U.S., 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. That’s when my business really took off.
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.
I used to offer more services but decided to concentrate more on developmental editing (including the combo), manuscript evaluation reports, query letters and synopses, as well as classes. I want to focus on helping the author create the strongest plot and characters possible. It’s all about the story, right?