What I can offer, and my rates
Proofreading ensures correct grammar, punctuation and basic clarity, but copy-editing takes it a considerable step further. For example, I may suggest changes to paragraph length, as well as the construction and organisation of sentences and paragraphs, to aid the clarity, impact and flow of the piece.
My fee is based on the word count of your manuscript - I charge by the number of words you've written, not by the hour. My rate for proofreading and editing is £9.00 per thousand words. So the cost of thoroughly editing an 80,000 word novel, as a typical example, would be £720, and there's no VAT to add.
It's worth adding that the 'minimum' rate suggested by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders for copy-editing (as of March 2017) is £27.15 an hour. For corporate work that's fine, but the cost of editing the average length novel will be prohibitive for many new and self-publishing authors, and those who are looking to fully fund their book (so-called vanity publishing). I recently reduced my rate in order to attract the kind of authors I prefer to work with and help. That's not to say I wish to be looked on as providing a charitable activity, but I think we need to be realistic.
I include a mentoring service by email, providing comments that may be helpful. This goes beyond the mechanics of writing to include a deeper level of editing and reorganisation of the work to aid flow, clarity, impact, consistency and overall readability. If requested, I will happily give my thoughts on alternatives to the way in which the work begins, builds and ends. It's about having someone independent to bounce ideas to and fro, as well as tackle the 'nuts and bolts' of it.
I don't offer to proofread or edit a thesis, CV, company report, business presentation, press release, company web pages, brochures or other business-related texts; I've done enough of all that in my time. On the other hand, I am delighted to help on what interests me more: novels, biographies, family histories and short stories. My help on non-fiction work will be dictated by the amount of specialised input that might be needed on verifying actual events or technical information - this would be discussed on an individual basis before we start.
Non-native English writers
I make no distinction in terms of cost on whether the author is a native English speaker or non-native, even though it often requires more time, for example to clarify the intended meaning of certain passages, where the author's first language is not English.
On the subject of helping non-native authors wishing to write in English, I do have practical experience of working with translated texts. I have a good understanding of Italian (spoken and written), rudimentary skills in French, and have worked on texts translated into English from German. I also part-edited a novel written in English by an Afghan writer.
How long will it take?
How long a particular editing job will take will depend on several factors, most of all the quality of the original manuscript. In general terms, editing an 80,000 word book will be around a month's work, allowing for the feedback time that occurs between the writer and myself during the editing process.
- I ask for an advance equal to 50% of the fee for the work to be undertaken, but not necessarily of the whole work - you may prefer to send a few chapters at a time and the advance would be pro rata.
- I prefer payments to be made by Bank Transfer (BACS) or PayPal (which covers credit card).
- I am no longer VAT registered, so there's no sales tax to add.
- Just to be clear, I do not ask for any earnings from future sales or to be credited by you in any way. What we agree is what you pay, nothing hidden, nothing extra unless by separate agreement.