Nuts and bolts

Ballpark prices

Copyediting starts at $0.05/word. Line edits start at $0.06/word ($0.07/word for LaTeX source files edited natively). Developmental edits are quoted per project, but are generally quite expensive (it's a lot of thinking!)—think around double (sometimes more) the prices for line edits.

Timelines and turnaround

I book up quite far in advance at certain times of the year. (Early fall is the worst; it's early September as I write this, and I have bookings into February.) It's smart to think ahead and book in a couple of months before you need me, especially for long manuscripts. (To reserve your spot, I'll require a deposit—usually 50% of the estimated final fee.) I can usually fit in shorter jobs on short notice. However, when your deadline requires me to work nights and/or weekends around other scheduled jobs, I charge a rush fee; it starts at 30% added to my normal fee and can get up to an 100% surcharge for very urgent jobs.

Online or face-to-face?

Most of my work is done online; you send me a manuscript via email, I send it back the same way. But I often have face-to-face, phone, or Skype meetings with clients. Coaching clients need regular check-ins. Some scientists like to have real-time discussions to ensure that the edits accurately represent their complex research. My developmental clients often find it useful to talk through their arguments and organizational ideas with me. I charge my normal hourly rate for these meetings and for travel time.

The process

  1. Establish audience and goals for piece. First, we'll pin down who your audience is and what you want the piece to do. (Is it a book proposal seeking to catch the attention of a press, or a monograph manuscript that's already been accepted? Is it a dissertation chapter, or a journal article? Different situations and different audiences need quite different types of editing.) Send me any relevant materials (readers' reports, adviser comments, press submission guidelines, model proposals, etc.) at this stage.
  2. Sample edits. For longer projects, I'll read a sample and do a few pages of sample edits for you to evaluate. (This is most useful for copy- or line edits; it's nearly impossible to do a developmental editing sample, because you can't take one chunk of argument out of context and improve it.)
  3. Deposit and letter of agreement. Once we agree that we are a good fit, I draw up a letter of agreement summarizing all the details we've discussed (projected hours and/or project fee, turnaround times, level of editing needed, etc.) and a deposit invoice (usually around 50% of the estimated cost of the first project).
  4. The editing stage. Most often, I edit in Microsoft Word using the Track Changes feature, which allows you to see every change individually and either accept or reject it. I write queries and notes in comment balloons in the manuscript's margins; these are questions for you, or suggestions for rearranging a paragraph or re-titling a subsection to offer a clearer preview of its focus. (For more urgent queries—questions I need answered in order to proceed—I'll email or call you during the editing process.) The great majority of my edits are designed so that my part is completed in one round; I give you changes, models, extensive feedback and queries, and you run with it.
  5. Payment and manuscript return. When the edits are complete, I email you a PDF (image file) of the edited document. You'll be able to see my changes, but won't be able to work with them. Once the final invoice is settled, I send you an unlocked Word version of your document. (This is intended to protect both of us; you don't have to pay for edits you haven't yet seen, and I don't run the risk of not being paid for my time.) I use FreshBooks accounting software, and can accept PayPal and major credit cards through their online portal. We can also arrange for you to pay by check via mail or set up invoicing and reimbursement through your university. If you would like to use grant funding to pay for your editing, I'm happy to register as an independent contractor with your university to facilitate that. Put me in touch with your departmental admin and we can take it from there.
  6. Handling the edited manuscript. I've written a short blog post about how I recommend you handle heavily edited documents; it can be found here.

What Is It Like to Work with Me, Though?

The editor/writer relationship is both an intellectual, professional one and an affective one based on trust; sharing writing (especially writing in early stages) is uniquely vulnerable. It's important that editor and client make a good match.

As an editor, I am rigorous and challenging (I will always tell you if something doesn't land the way it was intended, or if I'm not buying what you're laying down), but at the same time conversational, supportive, and human. I know intimately the pains and pleasures of writing, and of getting feedback—the pleasure that comes from having your argument read carefully and taken seriously, and the pain that comes from hearing that it's not yet as good as we both know it can be. I'm here to make your research look good.

My years of teaching writing to undergraduates have made me very aware of the need to support writers, to balance out healthy criticism with genuine praise, and to deliver both with a light touch. Working with me is painless and (believe it or not) even fun; not all exceptional academic editors are 100% stuffy and formal at all times.

Sometimes I even email memes.