The EditPros team answers 10 frequently asked questions about editing, proofreading and preparing manuscripts for book preparation.
What are the advantages of assigning an independent editor or proofreader?
One of the most difficult tasks for writers is finding errors in their own work. Writers commonly overlook ambiguity or other flaws in their text because they know the intended meaning. Our larger clients have writers or editors on staff, but rely on us to tighten their drafts, to spot and rectify errors that they might have missed, and to assist during periods of heavy workloads or tight deadlines. Independent editors view documents from an objective vantage point, and can identify content that needs clarification. Clients often tell us that we’re the best editors they know.
How do copy editing and proofreading differ?
Copy editing and proofreading are performed to correct errors and make refinements, but they are conducted at separate stages of document preparation. Copy editing is the process of thoroughly reviewing and improving text drafts by rectifying grammar, spelling, punctuation, ambiguity, improper word use, structural weaknesses, and stylistic inconsistencies. Copy editors also may be asked to condense text, convert passive to active voice, and make citations and bibliographies conform to the criteria of the intended publisher. Proofreading, in contrast, is a quality-control check performed at the layout stage, after text is integrated with visual elements. Proofreading is intended to catch and correct any significant errors that may have been either overlooked or inadvertently introduced during text revision or layout. Proofreaders verify captions, check for typographic consistency, and confirm that table of contents entries and figure and table numbers correspond with numbering in the body text. Experienced proofreaders complement graphic designers by minimizing disruptive and costly changes in the layout.
How much time is required to edit or proofread a document?
Copy editing and proofreading are labor-intensive procedures that require concentration in order to be performed accurately thoroughly and constructively. Our protocol is to perform two readings to maximize accuracy. We typically can process about 5,000 to 6,000 words of text per day when copy editing to rectify errors and make refinements in grammar and syntax, or up to 4,000 words when also reviewing the overall organizational structure of a document. We usually can proofread 12,000 to 15,000 words per day.
How do you mark up drafts that you edit and proofread?
We edit text files using Microsoft Word’s “track changes” function, which displays additions and deletions in color. Our clients can choose to accept or reject each of our suggested revisions. We use the “comments” tool for questions and explanations. For proofreading, clients typically supply PDF files, which we annotate using the Adobe Acrobat “notes” tool.
What is the value of using an editorial style guide, and which one is best?
Editorial style guides present a framework to maintain consistency in writing, through standards for spelling of certain terms, capitalization schemes, punctuation, bibliographic citations and other considerations. Some style manuals are general in nature, while others are specific to certain academic disciplines or professions. One particular style is no more or less valid than another; what matters most is the adoption of a style with which your organization remains consistent. Most prominent among general style guides are The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (Associated Press, New York), the Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press) and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. We routinely use all three of those style guides, depending upon the preferences of individual clients. Other style guides have been developed for particular disciplines, notably social sciences, the humanities, medicine, chemistry, engineering and the biological sciences. The MLA Style Manual (Modern Language Association of America, New York) is one standard for scholarly writing and publication. The discipline and purpose of writing determine which style guide is most appropriate.
How are rates structured for editing and proofreading services?
Our rates for editing and proofreading are based on document length — not the number of pages, but rather word count. Microsoft Word can calculate the number of words in a document. Tell us that amount, and we'll be able to tell you the cost to edit or proofread it.
What reassurances do you offer regarding confidentiality and security of sensitive documents?
We do not share any client materials with anyone outside of our business. We will sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement if requested. We back up documents as a preventive measure, and normally store them for about two years. We will delete documents from our storage media upon request.
How can I get my book published?
Two main approaches exist for book publication: traditional publishing and self-publishing. Under the traditional model, the author prepares a proposal describing the book, its intended readership, and a competitive marketing plan. The author then sends query letters to publishers — or, more commonly — to literary agents seeking their representation in pursuing a contract with a publisher. Because traditional publishers invest a considerable amount of money in offset printing press runs of 1,000 copies or more, they are highly selective in awarding contracts. Authors earn royalties — percentages of sales — a portion of which they must pay to the literary agent as long as the book remains in circulation. The advent of digital printing in the early 1990s disrupted the book publishing business to the advantage of authors. Digital printing technology enables print-on-demand (POD) book publication, eliminating the need for long press runs. POD books can be printed one copy at a time, economically and quickly, thereby enabling authors to circumvent traditional publishers and literary agents. The development of e-books for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iPad and Kobo readers in the early 2000s opened another self-publishing conduit to authors. The EditPros BookPrep service helps authors transform their manuscripts into POD and e-book formats. Visit our BookPrep website to learn more.
For which types of documents and in which subject areas do you have editing, proofreading and formatting experience?
During the past three decades at EditPros, we have prepared and edited written content on widely divergent subject matter for a variety of clients encompassing medical and nursing education and clinical practice, mental health, urban development, the legal professions, agricultural research, food processing, public transportation, energy consulting, civil engineering, construction, property management, and other fields. Subject matter expertise resides with our clients. Our role as editors and proofreaders is to help our clients succinctly and persuasively articulate the messages they want to convey.
How do you proofread the content of websites?
Website content can be proofread in any of several ways: by capturing the text as a Microsoft Word file, in which we make editing notations; by saving web pages as PDF files, which we annotate with Adobe Acrobat’s “sticky notes” tool; or by directly modifying text on HTML files through the client’s password-protected content management system. We use whichever method individual clients find preferable. Regardless of the method for identifying and making changes, website content should be evaluated not only for proper grammar, spelling and coherence, but also for search engine optimization (SEO). Furthermore, no website proofreading job is complete without checking all internal and external links to make certain they’re valid. If asked, we also examine the source code to verify that “description” meta tags are well written from an SEO point of view.