Questions authors may have of me:
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth…
Are your rates high, low, or middle of the road?
Middle of the road. I never want to overcharge authors. To me, that’s bad karma…not to mention a bush-league thing to do.
So are you primarily an editor or a writer?
I have spent 85 percent of my book publishing career editing books and 15 percent writing books.
Nonfiction? Fiction? What do you specialize in?
I spent the first 23 years of my career primarily in nonfiction and the last eight years editing mostly fiction. So both.
What is your No. 1 strength?
Copyediting. I have been copyediting book manuscripts consistently since 1990.
Do you do developmental editing as well?
Yes, I’ve been doing developmental editing throughout my career. If I feel I can engage in your story, I could provide developmental/content editing while I copyedit—all in one read. This is more economical than hiring a developmental editor and then later a copyeditor. We can discuss.
What is your biggest shortcoming?
I have trouble engaging in fantasy books and (to a lesser extent) sci-fi. I definitely can copyedit fantasy and sci-fi, but I’m not the one you want for developmental editing in those genres.
Do you hit your deadlines?
Yes, 99 percent of the time. Since working for my college newspaper—where a WWII vet named Lou ruled the night shift with an iron fist—I’ve been obsessed with hitting deadlines. I’ve edited about 300 manuscripts over the last eight years, and I’ve missed deadlines on three of the 300. Two were late by one day, and the other was late due to a misunderstanding. I really hate that I missed those three deadlines.
Will you send me a contract?
Yes—unless you don’t want to work with a contract or if it’s a small project.
When do I pay you?
I typically ask for half payment up front and the other half either at the halfway point or at the end. We can discuss.
What kind of payment do you accept?
Zelle is preferred, followed by personal check, followed by PayPal or Venmo.
Will you mess with my style?
I’m very respectful of an author’s style and idiosyncrasies. I would get approval from the author before I started changing things like dialect or unique sentence structure. Otherwise, I follow the rules of grammar as well as the bibles of book publishing: Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style.
On a scale of 1-10, my book is a 5. Can you make it a 10?
No. I can help you make it better (if you hire me for developmental editing), but I don’t wield magic. I will level with you and I will be encouraging, but I won’t overpromise.
Will you give my manuscript your best effort?
Yes, of course. I start at 6:30 a.m. every day, and I am focused and clear-headed throughout the morning. I typically go for a walk at noon, then take a nap. Then, refreshed and wide awake, I edit for another couple hours.
Do you charge for phone conversations or email exchanges?
Never. I am not an attorney.
Do you catch every mistake?
If you hire me to do a one-read copyedit, I likely will catch 97-99 percent of mistakes and inconsistencies. With two reads, I will catch well over 99 percent and close to 100 percent. We can discuss which approach is best for you. There are other options as well.
Do you farm out your work?
If I tell you I will edit your manuscript, I personally will edit your manuscript. I sometimes work with a trusted colleague, but I would get the author’s approval before bringing that person on board. Sometimes it’s better for the author to have two editors rather than one—four eyes instead of two.
Do you use Grammarly or any other editing software?
I use Grammarly, which provides a nice safety net for things that are hard to spot—such as than when it should be then.
Do you edit in Word, Google Docs, or what?
Do I have to deal with Track Changes?
No, not if you don’t want to. When I’m done editing your manuscript, I could send you two files: a clean, edited manuscript with no Track Changes as well as a pdf that reveals all the changes I made.
After you edit my manuscript, will you be able to determine how well it will sell?
Yes, mostly likely. About 5 percent of the time over the last few years, a manuscript I edited exceeded my expectations. About 5-10 percent of the time, it fell short of expectations. The other 85-90 percent, my predictions came true.
Can you upload my manuscript to Kindle or help self-publish my book?
No, but I can refer to all the right people.
What are your thoughts on agents?
The big publishers only accept manuscripts through agents. However, agents make only 15 percent of what their author earns, and authors earn only around 10 percent royalties. So an agent makes only about 1.5 percent of the cover price. Thus, they are primarily interested in authors with strong sales records—not new authors.
Should I avoid hybrid/vanity publishers?
Some are reputable but many are not. I could tell you horror stories. It’s usually much more economical to work with an independent editor like myself and then get your manuscript laid out and published by a self-publishing company. I recommend authors to BookLocker, but you should also Google “best self-publishing companies.”