(Bettye-Lynn Underwood)

 
EDITING

I do one kind of editing: Complete. I can't turn my brain on and off and say I'm only going to do a line edit, or only a copy edit, or only a content edit. My edits incorporate typos, overused/misused/missing/extra words, incorrect facts, inconsistencies, redundancies, contradictions, implausibilities, pacing, confusing narrative, pronoun misuse, adverb overuse, point-of-view (in fiction) errors, timeline errors, tense, transitions, clarity, syntax, and of course, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. If your fiction manuscript has issues with the plot (perhaps the pacing is too slow, or details readers need to know are glossed over without explanation, or maybe the story is unfolding in the unnatural manner that often results from trying to fit it into a plotline, or maybe the plot has more holes than a hunk of Swiss cheese), I will identify them for you and make suggestions on how to eliminate them. 

You will receive two copies: A marked copy with all track change edits and comments showing, and a clean copy with edits made (but with comments still showing). A 50% deposit is required.

Here's the skinny: No two manuscripts are alike, and therefore I do not charge a set rate per manuscript. (Firm prices are for selling products--think T-shirts--not services, which can all require different lengths of time to complete.) Some manuscripts need only 4 or 5 edits per page, others need 12 or 15 (and I've seen manuscripts that needed as many as 60--yes, 60!--edits per page, which falls under the "rewriting" category). The rate I quote you will depend on the quality of your manuscript and how much (or how little) work it needs. My minimum editing rate (only seasoned and/or very meticulous writers will qualify for this rate; even established authors are not necessarily great typists) is $0.006 per word (roughly $1.50 per double-spaced page). My maximum is $0.018 per word (roughly $4.50 per double-spaced page). The rate for most writers will fall somewhere in the middle, around $0.00825 per word. The basic rule is: The more work your manuscript needs, the higher my quote will be (and the longer the edit will take). If it needs too much work, I will decline to do it. My rates are quite reasonable, but my work is editing, not re-writing.  

To determine your rate, I would need to see sample pages from it...because blindly committing to a rate without seeing how much work is required is foolhardy. I mean, landscapers and other servicepeople get to see how much work needs to be done before quoting a rate (and mowing a lawn with normal growth will cost less than an overgrown lawn that hasn't been mowed in two months), why shouldn't editors be able to do the same? I'd want to see your first five pages, plus five more pages from somewhere in the middle of your story (my email address is listed below). I will provide you with complimentary edits of a portion of these pages so you can get a firsthand look at my skills and decide whether or not to hire me.

These are the usual reasons I decline to take on a manuscript:

• Basic punctuation is incorrect throughout the entire manuscript, such as commas and periods placed outside quotation marks, e.g., "I said no"!; dialogue tags capitalized throughout the entire manuscript, e.g., "'Don't forget to call me,' He said." I don't mind fixing these occasionally, but over 100 pages or more, they become too tedious to correct.

• The subject matter doesn't interest me. Fiction genres I have edited include contemporary romance, women's fiction, erotica, mysteries, medieval, new adult, young adult, and men's; non-fiction topics I edit include medical, business, memoir, and self-help. I'm not interested in children's books, paranormals, shapeshifters, anything with werewolves or vampires, and while I'm usually okay with erotica, no fetishes or really kinky stuff. Plus, I don't feel qualified to take on anything historical (too much research to make sure the author isn't referring to an invention not yet in use for the time period) outside of medieval times, or literary fiction (which, frankly, is over my head).

• Writing style confuses me. Have you ever wandered into a movie that's already started and you can't seem to follow what's going on? Some manuscripts strike me that way from the very start. I can't edit work when I just don't get what the writer is trying to say.

• Similarity. If the second manuscript you give me to edit is essentially the same storyline as the first one I edited for you, with different character names and setting, I will point this out to you and suggest you create a new and different plot.

• 
Very long manuscripts. I prefer manuscripts under 75k words, and while I won't rule out taking on 80k or 90k manuscript, if you have a 120k opus, I'm not the editor for you. On the other hand, I looooooove novellas!


• The manuscript needs rewriting rather than editing. I will consider re-writing, but in a small scope (see paragraph below). Otherwise, it'll cost ya...big time.​


IMPORTANT NOTICE: Although I try my best to make sure a manuscript is actually ready for editing before taking it on, I occasionally make the determination that the manuscript is missing key elements (such as conflict) or for various other reasons, is not ready to be published after editing. It would be unethical for me to continue editing and collect payment should this become apparent. Instead, I inform the client there is a problem, and I will give specifics and detailed suggestions to resolve the issue (for this service I will deduct a $40 manuscript evaluation fee plus the cost of the completed edits from your deposit and refund the balance).  

REWRITES

My edits do not include rewriting. The client may choose to add or revise scenes where suggested themselves. If they want me to do it, the client would need to pre-approve the scenes to be revised and what those revisions will reflect in advance ("A new scene where such-and-such happens"). I charge $25 an hour for rewrites, billed in one-minute increments (e.g., 22 minutes will cost $9.17; there is no rounding up). A timekeeping report will be provided with invoicing.

PROOFREADING

$0.004 per word (roughly $1 per double-spaced page). This includes eliminating errors in grammar, punctuation, missing, extra, or incorrect words, inconsistencies in names, numbers, and formatting. If you have written "formally" when you obviously meant "formerly," I will correct it. If you forgot the end quotation mark at the end of dialogue, I will add it. If your character named Lawrence becomes Laurence, or if his last name changes from Brown to Green, I will make it consistent. If there are two spaces between words, I will delete the extra one. If you type "the the" I will remove one of them.

Many people incorrectly consider proofreading to be the same as editing, but proofreading is done just before publication, after editing, to make sure there are no errors in an already polished manuscript.

Unfortunately, some clients believe their work only needs proofreading when it actually needs editing. If I determine this to be the case, I will inform the client and subtract my fee for the work done from their deposit and refund any balance. Whether or not to proceed at the proposed editing rate will be up to the client.

TYPING AND TRANSCRIPTION

Dictated text from recorded audio files: $1.09 per minute (a 15-minute dictated file will cost $16.35). This is dictated text, spoken more slowly and carefully than regular speech (generally less than 100 words per minute).

Transcripts of 1 person speaking (this is not the same as dictating, which tends to be spoken much more slowly, but is more like thoughts and notes): $1.49 per minute.

2-person conversations: $2.25 per recorded minute. I do not transcribe conversations with more than two participants.

Handwritten text (sent via fax or e-mail): $17.50 per hour. Note that I type 90 WPM (yes, I'm fast!). A timekeeping report will be provided with invoicing.