Email Jodie at: email@example.com.
What I need from you: Please check the Process page for the various items I need in order to assess your editing needs.
Visit Jodie’s blog for interesting articles, tips and more.
Also Crime Fiction Collective blog.
Frequently Asked Questions – Jodie Renner Editing. Please scroll down for the answers.
- What is your experience in editing and proofreading books?
- What should I as the client do first to start the process?
- Do you have a preferred format for when I submit my manuscript for editing?
- Do I have to finish writing the whole novel before you can start editing the beginning?
- Could you please describe your editing process?
- What are your rates for a full-length novel?
- What are your payment terms for a full-length manuscript?
- You mentioned you are willing to do a free sample edit. How many words/pages are you willing to review?
- Will you be doing all the actual editing, or do you have assistants to do certain tasks?
- What is your general turnaround time?
- How do you indicate your changes or suggestions on the manuscript?
- What do I do with all those red changes you’ve made?
- How do I get rid of those comments you’ve put in boxes in the margin?
- Why don’t you feel the need to read the whole novel before you start advising and editing?
- Since we don’t live in the same city, how will we communicate?
- Do we sign a contract? What if things don’t work out, for one reason or another?
- How do I use Microsoft Word Track Changes?
A. My personal background: I have a master’s degree and was an English (and French) teacher for 24 years and a school librarian for two years. I also have a lifelong passion for reading, especially fiction. But I’m not the typical “schoolmarm” or librarian type—I grew up in a large family, first on a small farm, then in a mining town, and since then, I’ve lived in three cities (Vancouver, Toronto, London) and traveled to many more. I’ve had many different types of jobs and life experiences, and have traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East. For a list of places I’ve traveled to, see the “About Jodie” page.
My business: I started my own online and on-screen freelance copyediting business about six years ago, and have edited about 50 full-length books since then, plus short stories and critiques, and hundreds of magazine articles and numerous other documents. I am also the copy editor for a high-quality culinary magazines. At this point, because of referrals from clients, I’ve built up my business to the point where I’m turning down two to five manuscripts a week, on averag. So please don’t take it personally if I don’t have time to take on your manuscript. I often have three or four on the go at a time, as I edit in sections and am editing some while I’m waiting for the writers of others to complete revisions based on my suggestions.
Professional Development: I am continually learning and upgrading my skills. I was a member of both the Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC – 4 years) and the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA – U.S. – 3 years) and regularly attend editors’ and writers’ conferences and workshops led by agents, editors, and best-selling authors. I also subscribe to Writer’s Digest magazine and several blogs by agents, editors and writers. I have more than thirty how-to books on writing effective fiction, all of which I’ve read and marked up, taking notes from them and writing articles on various topics, mainly to do with fiction writing. I quote these authors liberally in my researched craft-of-fiction articles, which appear on various blogs, such as Crime Fiction Collective, Blood-Red Pencil, The Thrill Begins, DP Lyle’s Writer’s Forensics Blog, and others, as well as, occasionally, my own blog, devoted to advice to writers: http://JodieRennerEditing.blogspot.com.
My blog topics include: “Show, Don’t Tell,” “Creating Compelling Characters,” “Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue,” “Tips for Breaking into the Romance Genre,” “Act First, Explain Later” (Hook Your Reader with a Compelling First Page), “Style Blunders in Fiction” and many more.
Grammar expert: In addition to constantly keeping up on what the agents and publishers are looking for in fiction these days, I also take pride in my knowledge of English grammar. I have dog-eared copies of the latest Chicago Manual of Style (956 pages) and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (1622 pages), Garner’s Modern American Usage, and many other resource books, and am very familiar with online dictionaries and English grammar and usage websites. I’ve been called “the grammar queen” and “the grammar expert” by many of my clients, and I was also the Editorial Director for an online proofreading company called ProofreadingPal for three years, where I created all of their proofreading tests and resource materials, and tested and trained new proofreaders. I left that position to devote more time to my greatest interest and love: editing fiction.
Be assured that when I’m proofreading your manuscript for grammar and punctuation, if I fix/change anything, it’s because I know for a fact that it’s wrong, or, if in doubt, I’ve looked it up. I never guess.
2. Q. What should I as the client do first to start the process, and what are your first steps?
A. Please start by sending me the first 15-20 pages (double-spaced, 12-point, in Times New Roman) of your manuscript, plus 10 pages from somewhere in the middle, plus brief plot outline (synopsis) of half a page to a page, single-spaced, or better yet, a brief chapter outline, with 2 or 3 brief points under each chapter; as well as a character outline, listing the main characters in order of importance, and a few minor characters, and what role the main characters play.
Also, please include the genre, target readership, publishing goals, preferred time frame, and total word count.
From that, I’ll get a pretty good idea of whether your novel needs some revisions before I start copyediting, and I may give you some suggestions.
I’ll also do a free sample edit for you of the first 6-12 pages, and send that back at the same time, so you can see how I’d handle your writing style and genre.
If your manuscript has some major “big picture” issues and is not ready for copyediting until they’re resolved and you do some revisions, I probably won’t do a sample edit. Instead, I’ll give you some advice or suggest an initial critique, where I look at the first 10-30 pages and write a 4-6 page critique of the story and writing, filled with all kinds of useful advice.
A. Instructions for submitting manuscripts for editing:
What I like to do with my clients is divide the manuscript up into chunks of 2-6 chapters and work on the earlier ones while they (you) prep the later ones for me, often based on my suggestions on the earlier ones, which I send back to you when I’m done for you to do revisions on while or before I continue to the next section. Then I check over your revisions, and each section could go back and forth several times like this.
My editing and proofreading service does not include a lot of time-consuming formatting, so please ensure the following before submitting your manuscript to me for editing:
- Email it to me as an attachment in Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office). This is a must.
- I prefer Times New Roman. It’s easier to read than some other fonts. 12-point.
- Left-justify the text, rather than justifying both sides.
- Make sure that when you’re typing and you come to the end of a line, do not press “Enter” unless it’s for a new paragraph. Let the text “wrap” around on its own.
- If you do not know how to double-space your document, leave it single-spaced and I’ll double-space it. Please do not click “Enter” at the ends of the lines to double-space it! That causes major headaches, and is very time-consuming to correct.
- A quick and easy way to double-space your whole manuscript: Control A, then Control 2. Voila! It’s done!
- Press “Tab” to indent for each new paragraph. Do not click repeatedly on the space bar to indent! It’s very important to use the forced indent, which is the “Tab” key.
- Don’t add an extra space for new paragraphs. Just leave it at your normal double-spacing.
- Only one space between sentences, not two.
A. No, it’s not necessary for you to have finished the whole novel before we start the editing process, as I don’t read the whole novel through first, anyway. I just read synopsis / plot outline, character description, genre, etc., then get started at the beginning. So you can be finishing later sections while I’m working on earlier sections.
5. Q. Could you please describe your editing process?
A. I usually start with a look at the plot outline and character descriptions to see if I detect any major plot holes or other problems. Then I work with the author section by section. I divide the manuscript into sections of about 2-6 chapters. First I do a more global edit, and usually then send the section back to the author for some revisions before doing a fine-tuning edit. If I don’t see any issues, I do two runs-through (passes) of the section, both edits, before I send it back.
A. My rates depend on how much work the writing needs to make it publish-worthy. If it needs very little work (2-3 errors per page), I may charge as low as .6 ($0.006) or .7 cents ($0.007) per word. If the story needs major developmental editing and content editing plus a lot of copyediting and proofreading, I’d do all that for about 1.4 to 2.3 cents per word. Most novels fall somewhere in between the two, so about $0.008 to $0.015 per word.
7. Q. What are your payment terms for a full-length manuscript?
A. I require $100-$200 down, then regular payments of $100–$300 as we go along, in advance of that section.
8. Q. You mentioned you are willing to do a free sample edit. How many words/pages are you willing to review?
A. If you send me the first 15-20 pages and I’m interested in taking on your story, I’ll do a sample edit of about 6-12 pages (double-spaced) for free. If you decide to hire me, those pages will be added to the overall count.
9. Q. Will you be doing all the actual editing, or do have assistants to do certain tasks?
A. I do all of the editing myself. I don’t use assistants. If I have a lot of work to do already, I’ll turn the manuscript down or ask the author if they can wait a few weeks or a month.
10. Q. What is your general turnaround time?
A. That depends on how much work the manuscript needs, and how long it takes the author to do the revisions of the chapters as we’re going along. I prefer to get each chapter or section right before moving ahead, as future stuff usually depends on past events, etc. An average manuscript will take between 3 weeks and 3 months to complete.
11. Q. Why don’t you feel the need to read the whole novel before you start advising and editing?
A. I think it’s very important for an editor to react to things immediately, not read the whole novel, then start again. If I as an editor have a question about something or find something confusing or implausible or whatever, so will the reader, at that same point in the novel. They’re not going to read the whole thing, then go back and say, “Oh, now I get it.” They’re just going to put down the book on page 5 or whatever because they’re confused and things don’t seem to make sense or add up to them. So I think it’s essential that I represent the reader and approach the edit as they would read the book, rather than reading the whole thing first, then going back and starting the edit at page one.
But for the big picture, I always ask for a detailed plot outline, like about a page, single-spaced, plus as much about each of the main characters, so I can see where the author is going with it, and see the personalities and motivations of the characters. If I’m doing more of a developmental edit, I will ask for a more detailed synopsis, like at least 2 pages, single-spaced, and may do some reading ahead.
12. Q. How do you indicate your changes or suggestions on the manuscript?
A. I do all my editing on-screen, using Microsoft Word Track Changes, with additional comments and suggestions in the margin. I have Microsoft Office 2010, and my clients should really have MS Word 2000 or later. Please let me know if you have an earlier version. I send you the marked-up copy, plus a “Final” version, a clean copy with all my changes accepted. You should be able to see my comments in the right margin, right beside the word or sentence I’m commenting on.
13. Q. What do I do with all those red changes?
A. Please note: To ensure the most accurate final copy, I strongly suggest to all my clients that they just look at the marked-up version, then use the “Final” version to make any further changes. Please indicate your revisions by highlighting them in yellow or turning on the Track Changes, so I can find them quickly and easily to do a final check-through. Once you have read and dealt with my comments in the margin, you can delete each comment by right-clicking on it.
If you prefer to work on the marked-up copy, and you are running Word 2000 or earlier, pull down the “Tools” menu, move to the “Track Changes” menu, move to the “Accept or Reject changes” menu, and click on the appropriate windows. Find the first change I made by clicking on the right-arrow. You can accept it or reject it with the appropriate buttons. You can check the changes I made one-by-one, or you can accept all of them at once.
To work on the marked-up copy, if you are running Word 2002 or later, pull down on “View” and cause the “Markup” toolbar to display. In the Markup toolbar you will see several icons. Mouse over them until you find the one that is labeled “Accept Change.” You can manipulate the choices there to accept each change, or all changes at once.
If you have MS Word 2007 or 2010, click on “Review” at the top, then click on “Accept” or “Reject” to accept or reject each change individually; or you may just wish to click on “Accept all” and save it, then make any further changes off that “clean copy.”
To see how my changes will look in “Final” version (“Final” version within “revisions” version): If you have Microsoft Word 2007, when you’re on the marked-up (redlined) version, to view the page as it would be if all my changes were accepted, a clean copy, go to the tab “Review” along the top, then click on “Final showing markup” and go down to “Final” and click on that. The text will be clean and free of markings, as if all my changes were accepted. It’s easier to see how it will look that way.
14. Q. How do I get rid of those comments you’ve put in boxes in the margin?
A. I prefer to do almost all communication via email, but you’re welcome to telephone me as well, if you prefer, and I may call you if I have any questions.
16. Q. Do we sign a contract? What if things don’t work out, for one reason or another?
A. I have a contract form, which I can send you, if you prefer. Most of my clients are quite happy to dispense with it. Since I prefer payments in instalments, as the work progresses, if either party wants out, they can “quit,” as long as neither party owes the other work or money. I am quite happy to refund any money paid for work not completed, if for any reason, either of us is unable or unwilling to continue working together on the manuscript. Please note that I do not refund any payments for work already completed.
17. Q. How do I use Microsoft Word Track Changes?
A. Here are some more detailed instructions that I got from someone else:
Most editors these days use a feature in Microsoft Word called “track changes.” This reviewing/editing tool enables your editor to make changes and corrections – additions and deletions – to your manuscript, and to comment on your writing style and make suggestions for improvement. The tool has its flaws and limitations, but becoming familiar with it will be very helpful to you if you are working with an editor who uses it. When your edited manuscript is returned to you, you’ll easily be able to accept or reject the editor’s changes and comments.
Keep the track changes toolbar showing on your MS Word screen while you are working on revisions. To turn on this toolbar, from the top “View” pulldown menu, select Toolbars, and then select Reviewers. The track changes toolbar should appear. Another way to access track changes is from the “Tools” pulldown menu. Simply select Track Changes, and the toolbar should appear.
To enable track changes, first you need to click on the second button from the right. When you hover your mouse over it, you’ll see it’s simply called “track changes.” On the “View” toolbar at the bottom of your screen, you should also make sure you are in print layout view. It’s possible to work in web layout view or normal view, but it isn’t as easy to see your changes on the screen.
Once you have enabled track changes, you’ll be able to see the editor’s corrections and comments in “balloons” in the right margin of the document. If you have an earlier version than Word 2002, the deletions will show up as strikethroughs, and the additions will show up as underlined. Word 2007 and 2008 also have some differences in the track changes/reviewing feature. You’ll need to experiment a little bit with your version of Word, and discuss with your editor any problems you may have in viewing the changes.
Now return to the track changes toolbar. Experiment with the various buttons. On the left, you’ll see a pull-down menu from which you can choose to view a clean final document, a clean original document, a final document showing markup (edits or corrections), and an original document showing markup.
Moving on to the other buttons, you’ll see that you can accept or reject your editor’s changes, either one at a time or all at once. You’ll also be able to read any comments in the balloons. Under the “Show” pull-down menu, I often recommend unchecking the “formatting” box – leaving it checked just clutters the screen with information you don’t need. I also don’t recommend using the reviewing pane. It’s cumbersome and not very useful.
Use MS Word’s “Help” feature if you’d like to learn more about track changes, but I hope these instructions help you get off to a good start.