How to Choose the Right Editor

It’s hard finding the right one to edit your manuscript. We know that you’ve worked for months or even years to get it to the point it is today, but that doesn’t mean it’s finished. A good editor will increase the appeal of your manuscript by making the story more clear and marketable. The process of finding the right editor may seem tedious, but it’s worth it. The rewards of working with the right person can be a best-selling book. Here are some questions to ask when you’re shopping around for the right editor.

1. Which publishers has the editor worked for? Are these publishers the type of publishers you want to attract?

Today, many editors work with self-publishers, but if you are looking to attract a major literary publishing house, work with an editor who has that experience.

2. Do they know what works in the publishing world? Formatting? Chicago Style?

Get an editor that knows what sells in your market. Review their past publications to see if they understand the nuances of publishing your particular style of book. For example, formatting and style for a comic book is much different than a fiction novel.

3. Are they an editor or a copyeditor?

An editor will address your creative content, writing style and language use. A copyeditor is more technical, they make sure your spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax is in accordance with industry standards.

4. How many authors does the editor work with in a given month?

Experienced editors usually won’t accept more than two or three books per month, depending on the length and type of edit. This gives editors the time to be thorough and thoughtful. An editing and ghostwriting agency will be able to handle more books in a month.

5. What’s the editor’s approximate quote? Does it compare with standard rates?

Honestly, it may be hard to find a professional editor who is on par with standard rates. The better the editor, the higher the cost.

6. Can you get a trial edit?

Most editors will be more than happy to show you their skills.


Self-Editing: The Cringe Test

My writing group met recently for our monthly critiquing love- and slugfest. We know each other well enough to be pretty brutal and frank, and mostly that’s good, because it means that if everyone agrees that something’s finished, you can be sure we aren’t just being polite. 

This month it happens that we’re all revising manuscripts, and we’re all weighing the pressure to be done with it against the wish for it to be perfect. And we discovered that we’ve all had the same experience at some point, of trying to ignore a subpar passage that we hoped would escape our editor’s/agent’s/reader’s notice. 

When you aren’t certain, how do you decide whether a particular chunk is good enough? Some possible cringe tests: 

—Imagine you’re interviewed on Fresh Air and Terry Gross chooses that passage to read out loud.

—Pretend it’s the only passage an old lover will read when he or she happens across it.

—Picture it printed in your obituary. 

You get the idea—and I’ll bet you have some doozies. The point is, although not every passage will turn out to be quote-worthy, none of them should make you cringe.

Original Story :



Are You a Grammar Troll?

For years, it seems, it’s been impossible to find a language-related post or article online without a stickler making trouble in the comments section. Even on political, social, and retail sites, outraged commenters love to point out a misplaced apostrophe as a way to challenge the writer’s intelligence, education, or morality.

I’ve never believed that typos are that revealing. Anyone can be distracted or in a hurry. No one catches every single error. One study on human error rates concludes that “the best performance possible in well managed workplaces using normal quality management methods [has] failure rates of 5 to 10 in every hundred opportunities.”1 (Read that again: “the best performance possible”!)

And are we not human? Why shouldn’t we err?

At the University of Chicago Press a whole staff of editors makes a living finding typos and grammar goofs in book and journal article manuscripts, and no one thinks those writers are ignorant or corrupt.

It’s simply wrong to assume that anyone who types your when they mean you’re doesn’t know the difference. And in any case, is it right to point it out in a rude, public manner?

I’ll confess to taking a little evil pleasure when a grammar shamer commits a typo, falling victim to Muphrey’s Law [sic]: “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.”

What’s your take?

8 Microsoft Shortcuts That You Need Right Now

Shortcuts in editing may be frowned upon, but when it comes to word processing, editing shortcuts are not only allowed, they’re essential. If you’re still fumbling around in the pull-down menus, fighting with features that won’t leave you alone, and wasting time on tasks that could be done with lightning speed, stop it right now!

Here are just a few shortcuts you can try:

  1. Toggle tracking on and off: Ctrl+Shift+E.

  2. Upper- or lowercase selected words: Shift+F3. Do it again. And again.

  3. Show/hide hard returns and space marks: Ctrl+Shift+8.

  4. Single-space the paragraph your cursor is in: Ctrl+1 (then, just for fun, Ctrl+A, then F4). Note: Ctrl+2 for double-spacing.

  5. Jump to your previous editing location: Alt+Ctrl+Z.

  6. Cursor by a paragraph or a word at a time: Ctrl + Arrow keys.

  7. Remove all hyperlinks in a document: Ctrl+A, then Ctrl+Shift+F9.

  8. Split/unsplit your screen: Alt+Ctrl+S.


Subversive Copy Editor: Random Advice for Copyeditor Newbies

If you’re new to copyediting, consider these snippets of advice. (Be sure to check with your supervisor if any of them contradict your usual instructions.)

  • Don’t query a word or spelling or locution without looking it up. If a writer uses an unfamiliar word or spelling more than once, it’s very possibly intended. It’s easy to paste “eat one’s cake and have it, too” into a search engine and learn that the writer doesn’t have it backward.

  • Don’t waste a writer’s time by continually asking for approval. (“Okay? If you don’t like this, I can put it back.”) Rather, indicate your flexibility in the cover letter. On the manuscript, use queries for giving or asking for information.

  • Save grief later by e-mailing the author before you make editing decisions that are hard to undo. (“Re romantic/Romantic: do you have a system for capping? Should I meddle?”)

  • Don’t track changes that will be invisible or confusing on a black-and-white printout, such as deletions of hyphens.* If the editing is difficult to read, the writer won’t easily see that the results read well.

  • Be conservative in editing until you have more experience. You should be ready to explain every mark you put on the page.

  • Remember the copyeditor’s creed: First, do no harm.


Help! The Words Don't Make Sense

Writing is a lost art, and many professionals don’t realize how essential a job skill it is. Even if you’re not a writer by trade, every time you click “Publish” on a blog, “Post” on a LinkedIn update, or “Send” on an email, you are putting your writing out into the world.
Your writing is a reflection of your thinking. If you want to be thought of as a smart thinker, you must become a better writer. If you want to be taken seriously by your manager, colleagues, potential employers, clients and prospects, you must become a better writer.
It’s not just you who must become a better writer- it’s all of us. I’ll be the first to admit, I too have had to learn to become a better writer. So here are five ways that I’ve become a better writer over the last several years:

1) Practice, practice, practice. The old joke comes to mind: A tourist in New York asked a woman on the street, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” and she replied, “Practice, practice, practice.” The truth is, the best way to get better at anything is to do it repeatedly. Write a personal blog or begin that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Offer to write some content for your company’s marketing team. Write a short, interesting LinkedIn update each day. The more you write, the better you’ll become at writing. That’s why I write here on LinkedIn every Monday and Thursday, no matter what.

2) Say it out loud. I read all of my articles and books out loud before I publish them, and many of my emails out loud as well. It’s great to hear my writing the way others will “hear” it as they read. Especially since tone in emails is difficult to convey, it’s valuable to say what you’re writing aloud, and then consider a quick edit, before you put it out there.

3) Make it more concise. Less is often more, so during my editing process, I’ll often ask, “How can I say the same thing in fewer words?” People don’t have time to read a long email, or memo, or article, so out of respect for your intended audience, practice making your writing short and sweet. I’d even argue that tweeting has helped me a lot with this, as it obviously limits you to 140 characters. If you’re not on Twitter yet, this is another reason to get tweeting.

4) Work on your headlines. A mentor once told me that 50% of your writing is the headline. So, spend equal time and energy working on your headline as you do the piece itself. Whether it’s the headline of a blog post or an inter-office memo, or a subject line for an email to a sales prospect, your headlines will either grab your reader’s attention, and get them interested in what you have to say, or not. Lists and questions work very well as headlines and subject lines. Practice them.

5) Read. Besides practicing writing, the number one way to improve your writing skills is to read great work. I read at least one book per month, at least 20 articles per week, and countless tweets, Facebook posts and emails per day. I know we all have limited time, but truly the best way to become a better writer is to become a better reader.
These are my methods for becoming a better writer. Do you agree or disagree with me that all business professionals can work to become better writers? How important is good writing to you? And how have you become a better writer over your career? Let me know in the comments below!