There are many different opinions on what each type of editing entails. For example, some editors distinguish between developmental and substantive editing, but I lump them together. For my definitions of each type, please see my Book Editing Services page. You might also find my blog post, “What Kind of Editing Do I Need?” helpful.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the difference between developmental and substantive editing? Between line editing and copyediting?
What software will you use to edit my manuscript?
I edit electronically with either Microsoft Word or Google Docs. At some point I will write tutorials on both methods, but if you have questions before then, please let me know. I’ll be happy to help you with whatever learning curve you might have.
A few of my clients use Macs and have been able to convert their files from .pages to .docx for me to edit. Let me know if you need help with conversion.
How will you mark your edits?
This depends on what you prefer. Most of my clients prefer me to edit with tracked changes so that all they have to do is accept or reject each change. Others prefer that I only make suggestions via comments in the margin; they either want greater control over the edits or wish to learn from my suggestions so they can refine their writing craft. Be aware that editing with comments instead of tracked changes does take longer, so it will cost more.
I plan to create tutorials for clients who need help reviewing and working with tracked changes. Until then, please don’t hesitate to ask me for help.
What can I do to make your job smoother (and my bill lower)?
This depends on the project, but here are some general tips:
Make sure you’re ordering the right service at the right time. One client hired me for copyediting after the project had already gone to layout, which meant the editing process took much longer (I could only insert comments, which is slower than editing with tracked changes). All editing, except for a final proofing pass, should take place before layout.
Make all the revisions you plan to make before sending it out for editing. I’ve had clients who knew they were still writing/revising the manuscript when they hired me but insisted on starting the editing process anyway. This meant that they wound up paying me to edit some things two or three (or five) times.
Use tracked changes yourself if you’ll be sending the manuscript back to me. Clients rarely just accept all my changes and do nothing to the manuscript themselves. That’s good and normal. When it comes back to me for further editing and/or proofreading, however, my job goes faster (and costs less) if it’s easy for me to see what’s changed since the last time I touched it. Yes, I can use the compare versions tool in Word or look at version history in Google Docs, but this takes much longer for me—and therefore costs more for you. If you need help learning to edit with tracked changes, I’m more than happy to help.
Ask me what legwork you can do to make a long project go faster for me. With novels, for example, it’s helpful if the author provides me with an outline/chapter summaries, character charts, info on themes, foreshadowing they planted, and anything I should know about planned sequels. This is especially true for coaching and developmental editing.
Edit the manuscript yourself before sending it to me. Look especially for sentences/paragraphs you forgot to finish or parts that are confusing or ambiguous. Either clarify those or, if you aren’t sure how, leave a comment in the margin to explain your difficulty.
Where did the name “Utopian Editing” come from?
In graduate school, I specialized in utopian/dystopian literature and science fiction because those are my favorite genres. I see editing as a utopian enterprise because we (the author, publisher, and I) are trying to make your text perfect. As in fictional utopias, however, perfection is elusive. The real world lets us know that resources (especially time and finances) are not unlimited. Nevertheless, my goal is as much perfection as we can manage within our constraints.