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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Freelance Copy Editor: Why I Do Two Complete Read-Throughs of EVERY Project

I am getting busier and busier. Amen! Which means, I no longer have one-month-out as my normal "extended" deadline to go by when answering individual author queries. No. Now, at this exact moment in time, I'm booked through July 30, 2017, with eight projects, four of which are over 100K WC, and three of which are "priority" projects, namely Amazon Preorders (APs). In fact, one of those >100K WC projects is also an AP.

Double those WC tallies, and you can imagine how many words I digest/dissect in any one given day. But I love it! I basically read for a living. A perfect fit for me.

Plus I have one outlier (~90K WC), a project expected on or about August 30, 2017. I keep a running handwritten tally on a physical calendar topmost on my desk to keep me organized. I also have an Excel spreadsheet for each year's projects, which includes author name, title of book, WC, deadline given, date turned in, hours to complete project (1RT, 2RT, paperwork), fees prepaid, total pages, DS/SS, total chapters (+ Prologue/Epilogue). This helps me estimate my quarterly taxes due to the IRS. It can also give me an idea of how much I'm making an hour (if I'm so inclined to do that extra math calculation).

Still, no matter how busy I get, I remain steadfast about doing two complete read-throughs (RTs) for all my projects, fiction and nonfiction alike.

First and foremost, I have a real heart for the Indie authors (being one myself) and wish to work forever to dispel that horrible myth that our works are less properly edited than trad-pubbed offerings. Wrong. I find a lot of errors in trad-pubbed books I read (and report them to the respective publishing houses for correction before any reprint).

Second, we're human. We are not perfect (including me, no matter how hard I try). And I feel a crush to my soul when I find an error I've missed, even after a 2RT. But, between the author, the developmental editor, any beta readers, the proofreader, and me, I hope we all catch some of the leftover errors remaining in any one book. However, being Indie authors has a distinct advantage of immediately updating the online book offering when any error is found. And Amazon is so fast that it can be handled in one day. Amazing, right?

Third, when I'm doing 2RTs (complete, from beginning to end), on a fiction book, I find the 1RT is for clearing out all the distractions of misspellings, grammar errors, inconsistencies; cutting out "filler words" and "helping verbs" and multiple prepositional phrases in sentences; plus cleaning up confusing lines and adding clarity. Once those are out of the way, in my 2RT, I tend to find plotholes and unanswered storylines. And, for a 2RT of a nonfiction book, I look more to structure and organization and linear approaches to the subject matter, bolding/adding subheadings, etc.

What an Indie Author Can Take Away from This: Two Things to Watch For

As a copy editor, I'm embarrassed to see what I missed the first time around and am thankful to catch them myself the second time around. Here are two that immediately come to mind:

(1)  Most of those are overlooked missing words (expecting to see what isn't there, like a missing "a" or "the"). Which I thought just happened when rereading my own written pages, but this carries over when reading other authors' words too.

(2)  The next thing to watch for are homonyms (think, their, there and they're, and others of that ilk). But with the advent of speech-to-text software (where you dictate to your computer, and it types out your words), I find so many variations on a true homonym (think, honor and on her). Not to mention the fact that I don't always know when an author is using Dragon or other such software programs, so I have no advance warning. Watch out for those words that don't "feel right." That you know are "off," and yet you can't put your finger on the right word. Mark them however you wish and return to them later. You'll figure it out then, I bet.

Next time I'll post about "filler" words and give you a long, long list to watch out for. We all use them. It's just a matter of how much so. And, believe me, cutting these not-needed words from your sentences adds clarity and conciseness. Amazing how trimming your WC can make your book so much easier to follow along without stumbling over a word or a sentence.

And, if you pay by the WC to have your books professionally edited/proofed, you'll be saving money too on third-party fees. You'll also be saving me and other editors a bunch of time as well. For that, I send you my thanks.

Hope y'all have a wonderful Sunday.

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
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