The aim of a copy-edit is to polish your content so it’s in the best shape it can be, while still retaining your own authorial voice.
Copy-editing can mean different things to different people. In traditional publishing, it’s a light-touch skill that has quite strictly defined boundaries within the publishing process, but in other contexts, clients sometimes expect more intervention in terms of style and structure.
If you’re interested in this service, one of the first things we’ll talk about is how deep an edit you want. Do you want me to be relatively hands-off, just correcting mistakes? Would you like be to make slight changes here and there to tweak your writing and give it a little more punch? Or would you like me to get stuck in and actively change the document where I think it can be improved? As you can imagine, it’s important that we agree on the level of edit you want before I get to work so that you’re completely happy with the results.
When I do a copy-edit, I start with some basic housekeeping: fixing page setup, spacing, fonts and formatting.
Once that’s done, I go through your document methodically, looking for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, style and usage. I’ll also be considering:
- Potential legal issues
If you haven’t supplied me with a style sheet to follow, I’ll draw one up while working on your document, listing the editorial decisions I’ve made during the process. This can be useful for your reference and can be passed on to other editors and proofreaders who work on your material in the future.
You’ll receive the edited document with the changes made and marked up, ready for you to check. You’ll have full control over whether to accept my edits or not. I’ll also send you a list of queries for you to consider and, of course, your new or updated style sheet.
How do I work?
I edit in Microsoft Word using the Track Changes tool, which is the industry standard. If your document includes tables that have not been integrated into the text, I can check these in Microsoft Excel for you before your designer puts everything together. Any other illustrations or diagrams can be provided in pdf format, separate from the text itself, for me to cue into the text as appropriate. I can also edit on hard copy if required, although in that case I will only be marking up corrections rather than providing corrected copy myself.
Anything is possible, though: if you have specific format needs beyond this, let me know and we’ll work out a solution that suits you. My aim is to make the process as easy as possible for you.
With the exception of website editing, I prefer to quote a fixed fee per job so that you know exactly what to expect (for website editing rates, please see the section below).
After I’ve seen a sample of your document, I’ll draw up a project proposal. The quote will form part of this and will typically be based on a rate per thousand words of between £22 and £35, depending on the complexity of the material (documents including multiple tables, for example, will tend to take longer to edit, so will attract a higher rate). If you prefer, I’m also happy to provide a quote based on an hourly rate.
If your project requires a very fast turnaround time, the rate will be increased by 50%.
For projects costing over £1,000, I require a 40% deposit from first-time clients, with the balance due on delivery.
If you’d like me to work on your website, the fee structure is slightly different. My standard rate is £40 per hour for this. As a rough guide, most small business websites that don’t include hundreds of individual product pages can generally be edited within 3 to 15 hours. I can also write additional text for your site at the same hourly rate. If you’d like me to do this as well, it will obviously increase the time required.
I don’t offer a fixed rate for editing websites for two reasons. Firstly, websites vary widely in size and complexity, and going by a simple word count will not give a realistic picture of how much work is required. Secondly, website editing involves more than just checking your text. I will also be checking a number of other aspects of your site including:
- links – do the links work properly and lead to the correct places?
- user experience – is there anything on your site that might frustrate someone reading it and lead them to click away, losing you a potential customer?
- accessibility – for example, do you have any important images that need alt text to assist the visually impaired?
I can make edits directly into your content management system if you like, but most clients prefer to control the content themselves, so I use a mixture of solutions. A typical job might involve me transferring the questions and answers on an FAQ page to a Word file and then either editing the text myself or highlighting where corrections need to be made, as well as providing a separate page-by-page report with screenshots of problems for less word-heavy pages.
Your wishes are paramount. I am very well aware that your website is a vital shop window for your business, and I keep this in mind at all times while working on your content.