Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an editor?

Almost certainly! Even the best writers need an editor – it’s nothing to do with quality of writing and everything to do with having more than one pair of eyes looking at the copy. Editors not only correct punctuation, they also spot plot holes and narrative inconsistences. Which editor you need depends on your own strengths and weaknesses. If you struggle to construct your book, a developmental editor would help. If you’ve written your book but just need it cleaned up, a copy editor should be your next step.

What does an editor do?

There are different editors who fulfil different roles and have different specialities. Broadly speaking:

Developmental editors look at the big picture, the story arc. They look at character development, the strength of the story, whether it progresses, if the themes it contains match the genre the author is aiming for, consistency of viewpoint, etc.

Line editors look at sentence structure and writing style to make sure you’re using the best terms and language to convey your story, that you are using the correct point of view to impart a particular mood, that you’re not repeating yourself, etc.

Copy editors look closely at grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation, etc. They make sure everything makes sense, that paragraphs are formatted correctly, that there are no single quotes where there should be doubles, that style is consistent… But there is a sort of lurching into line editor territory here, and a copy editor will point out where something doesn’t make sense or is ambiguous.

Proofreaders get involved at the final galley check, reading for typos, formatting errors, making sure page numbers haven’t dropped off, etc. It’s basically a final quality check.

Do I need an ISBN?

Having an ISBN is not a legal requirement but if you’re publishing your book for sale, it is advisable to get one. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique product identifier for books used by publishers, booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control. Find out more via nielsenisbnstore.com/Home/Isbn

Do I need to ask permission to use images?

Almost always, yes. The person who creates an image, photo or artwork will generally be the first owner of the copyright. If they were working for an employer, that business or person might own the copyright. In the UK, copyright in images lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years from the end of the calendar year of their death. Suffice to say, you should always track down the copyright owner and ask permission to use their material! (That’s assuming you want to use copyright images in a book you intend to sell. There are fair use justifications for freely sharing photos, etc, in personal use.) See gov.uk/government/publications/copyright-notice-digital-images-photographs-and-the-internet/copyright-notice-digital-images-photographs-and-the-internet to find out more.

Does one editor fit all?

No, not really. In the “What does an editor do?” question you will see the different types of editors. Many have skills that cross over but most specialise – in type of editing and genre of book. Make it clear to any editor you approach exactly what you want them to do.

Do you offer free sample edits?

I do, yes – up to around 3,500 words.

Do you work with people with dyslexia?

Absolutely! I have a process of working but it is always fully geared to my client, how they work, their strengths and weak spots, and what they can achieve. Gone are the days of the red pen – my process is collaborative and supportive.

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