Monday, April 16, 2012

Know What You Want, Part 10

Do You Want Full, Queen, or King?

Sending your manuscript to an editor with the instructions of “I need this edited” is like going to the mattress store and saying “I need a mattress.” You are very likely to get what you don't want.

When last I posted, we were discussing Goldilocks, freelance editor. Let’s take a brief look at her results:

This bed is too little: Goldilocks barely made any changes.
This bed is too big: Goldi made so many changes your manuscript is unrecognizable. 
This bed is just right: Goldi corrected your poor punctuation and spelling, made the story flow more smoothly, and retained the integrity of your voice and the story. “Wow! This is amazing. She’s made me sound so much better.”

There are three edit levels in the editing world. What I have dubbed full, queen and king size equates to a light, medium and heavy edit. The level of editing required to make your manuscript “just right” and ready for book shelves depends on the quality of your writing. It may need only a light edit or it may require a heavy edit. But a good content editor will not do what Goldi did—return to you an unrecognizable manuscript.

The major difference between these levels of editing is rewriting. According to Amy Einsohn, author of The Copyeditor’s Handbook, a light edit will “point out paragraphs that seem egregiously wordy or convoluted,” but will not revise or suggest revisions, and will “ignore minor patches of wordiness.” Let’s take one step up to medium, and now those patches of wordiness will get “suggested revisions.” A heavy edit will actually rewrite those passages in addition to all the other things a standard copyedit entails.

Understand the details and levels of editing, communicate your needs and expectations clearly, and you will have a better chance of achieving “just right” the first time around.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2012 

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