The Ideal Journey of an Edit
Editing happens in stages. Each stage is charged at a different rate for the duration of the time I am doing that stage. I will explain them in the order they are typically done. Doing them in this order saves time and saves you money. For example, it would be a poor choice to developmentally edit a document after the copyedit, due to the fact that large chunks of text can often be deleted or rewritten during the developmental edit.
First, there is the developmental edit. If you want this level of editing, it will be done first at a developmental rate.
A developmental edit includes:
Working with the client and, usually, the author of a book or other document to develop a manuscript from initial concept, outline, or draft (or some combination of the three) through any number of subsequent drafts
making suggestions about content, organization, and presentation, based on analysis of competing works, comments of expert reviewers, the client’s market analysis, and other appropriate references
rewriting, writing, and researching, as needed, and sometimes suggesting topics or providing information about topics for consideration of authors and client
Next, there is the substantive/line edit. This is done after the developmental stage and before the copyediting stage, and is charged at a substantive/line rate.
A substantive/line edit includes:
identifying and solving problems of overall clarity or accuracy
reorganizing paragraphs, sections, or chapters to improve the order in which the text is presented
writing or rewriting segments of text to improve readability and flow of information
revising any or all aspects of the text to improve its presentation
consulting with others about issues of concern
incorporating responses to queries and suggestions and creating a new draft of the document
Lastly, there is the copyediting stage. This is done before you send your work out to meet the world. Think of it as your final polishing. I am dividing this up into two types of copyediting, because a heavy copyedit can be a good option for someone who needs less than a substantive edit but more than a basic copyedit.
A basic copyedit includes:
correction of indisputable errors in grammar, syntax and usage
query for clarification of terms likely to be new to readers
query awkward, wordy passages only if lengthy/egregious, then query and suggest revisions
some content editing
query factual inconsistencies or suspected errors
query faulty organization and gaps in logic
standard text: 4 to 7 pages per hour/1,000 to 2,300 words per hour
academic/technical/very “raw” text: 2 to 4 pages per hour/600 to 1,300 words per hour
A heavy copyedit includes all of the above and the addition of:
revision of awkward and wordy passages, with a query to author to accept or reject the revision
verification with desktop references and revision of factual inconsistencies or suspected errors, with a query to author to accept or reject the revision
revision of faulty organization and gaps in logic, with a query to author to accept or reject the revision.
standard text: 2 to 3 pages per hour/500 to 1,000 words per hour
academic/technical/very “raw” text: 1 to 2 pages per hour/300 to 700 words per hour