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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Professional Freelance Copy Editor Denise Barker

SUBMISSIONS REOPENED ON A TRIAL BASIS. Beginning March 15, 2013, I will consider copyediting requests from individual authors. Depending on my availability, I will take as many individual author jobs as my time allows.

SUBMISSIONS CLOSED. Beginning August 11, 2012, I am not able to take on new clients for individual author projects as my freelance work for publishing houses is now taking all my available time. Should my schedule change, I will update this post. 

Thank y'all!

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This is the "long version" as referenced in my NaNoWriMo ad, for those authors seeking a copy edit of their work.  This is not needed when going the traditionally published route as the publishing house hires a copy editor to review the contracted-for novel.  The process involves several rounds with proofreading done, as well.  I don't know all that is entailed, but I do freelance as a copy editor for a well-known NYC publishing house.

Here I am offering my skills and expertise to Indie-publishing authors, based on industry standards within the fiction community of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Web11), and The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (CMS).

I have intimate knowledge of the nine-hundred-page CMS and exacting familiarity with Web11. I implement Microsoft Word's Track Changes features as I edit, showing my suggestions and comments--where I am like the senate edicting laws. The author is then like the president with ultimate veto powers, having the final say; after all, it is his (or her) name on the front of his book. His brand, his ultimate responsibility.

NOTE:  No MS will be accepted for copyediting that has not already been spell-checked and grammar-checked via Microsoft Word and had one proofreading by either the author or beta reader.

Rates:  $25/hour – one read-through only. 

Estimated Rates per Book:  One novel (200-300 pp.) approximately $250 to $500, depending on the cleanness of the writing and the actual length of the document.

Writing Sample:  Give me your blog site or the first five pages of the novel to be copyedited or another story of your creation, so I can predetermine if your copy edit will be easy or hard and can therefore more properly estimate the total fee.

Self-Help:  If you would prefer to do-it-yourself, consider my e-book, A Copyediting Checklist for Novelists, available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.  Links follow.

Also check out previous posts to my blog here where I delve into many matters regarding authors and their creations and copyediting concerns.  While I have Indie-published my own e-works under this DBA, I am not a public publishing company.  I do not wish to be a public publishing company.  I only wish to be an author and a freelance copy editor.

Background:  As of March 2013, almost five years of freelancing for a well-known NYC publishing house, having worked on 154 manuscripts to date, as well as some individual author projects along the way.  Previous career as a legal assistant for trial lawyers for three decades.  My love of reading and writing began early in life.  I currently have eight nonfiction and two nonfiction e-books offered through four online venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Kobo. I have another fifteen works-in-progress. I am a perfectionist and a workaholic who loves her creative career.

Reference Materials:
The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (CMS)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Web11), which trumps Word’s spell-check
UrbanDictionary.com and the like, as needed
Authorized websites confirming technical knowledge terms

My Copyediting Duties Defined:  WORDS.  I’m very sensitive to word choices and connotation versus denotation.  So while I require all my projects to have been previously spell-checked and grammar-checked by Microsoft Word to cover the basics, the human element is still very much needed for the intermediate to the more complex issues.  Web11 has “preferred” spellings that I double-check among other things, like confirming hyphenated usages over compound word construction.  GRAMMAR.  The CMS has 801 pages of English grammar rules and if I don’t already know them, I know where to look them up.  PUNCTUATION.  Proper use of punctuation is a communication skill.  Even with slang or dialects and the like, an apostrophe at the beginning of a word still means a missing letter.  If there is no missing letter, then the apostrophe is grammatically incorrect.  An apostrophe at the end of a word usually means possession and there are rules regarding plural possession and singular possession. These are just two examples when it comes to one punctuation mark--the apostrophe.  EDITOR OVERVIEW.  I have a great memory for details and timelines and geography, so the seasons, the months, the places, all fall together into an orderly puzzle in my brain—or if they do not, a glaring error to be fixed.  CONSISTENCY.  In character names, eye color, capitalization and sites.  If your story starts and ends in Chicago, the strange and unexplained mention of Cincinnati at one point will be addressed by me.

Document Defined:  A Microsoft Word document, double-spaced, preferably using Courier 10 font, properly formatted into Chapters.  English language only.

Payment:  Estimated half of total fees due received by my PayPal account before any work commences.  Balance of actual fees due to be deposited with my PayPal account the same day I return the copyedited MS via email.  That specific financial information to be shared later only with actual authors utilizing my copyediting services.

Online Editing Only (no mailing of paper manuscripts):  Only upon mutual approval and agreement to copy edit your novel, then your Microsoft Word Document would be sent via email to my contact info below.  Upon first PayPal payment (of two), online copyediting commences utilizing Track Changes feature within Word.

Estimated Time to Complete Project:  After mutual acceptance by the author and me of this copyediting project plus receipt of the first of two PayPal payments, project completed usually by two weeks but more often sooner.  The NYC publishing house projects I work on take precedence over any individual author’s project.  That is why I quote two weeks, instead of one.  I’ve never missed a deadline and I prefer to turn in my comprehensive work early. I work at least six days out of every seven and, because my career is so much fun, even on holidays.

What does the author do upon receipt of the copyedited MS?  Familiar with MSWord’s Track Changes?  If not, find articles about how to use it on the internet.  Basically, it concerns choices of Accept or Reject, reading Comment(s) and clicking on Final within the Track Changes toolbar to give you the new improved clean MS version.

Your returned MS will be marked to show deletions or insertions or replacement words for clarity or to correct usage (like misuse of their, there, or they’re, for instance).  For each such deletion, replacement or inserted word, the author either chooses to Accept the change I have suggested or to Reject same—in case I have misunderstood the passage.  However, usually the changes I recommend are because the passage confused me and I have attempted to clarify same.  There are also Comment features within Track Changes that give you further information from me, like why I did it this way here and probably the CMS rule to back me up.

My changes are suggestions based upon reference materials like Web11, CMS16 and authorized internet websites (meaning I will confirm with an authorized Ford website that it produces the Ranger truck).  Any such correction is made to improve communication via the book, to increase the reader’s understanding and to make the author look really good. The author chooses which remain or can stet the original wording by clicking Reject. 

Caveats:  My estimates for any project are not the final fee due.  The final fee due can only be calculated once I have spent the actual hours completing the project. 

I am human and, try as I might, I still make mistakes.  If I did a second read-through (which I no longer have the time to do), I would catch any of my mistakes overlooked during my initial read-through.  Since I am limited to only the one read-through, I would suggest noting any consistent errors marked within your MS so that you can perform your own search using Find/Replace.  Like “Philip” showing up as “Phillip” or too many times “canvas” (noun) showed up when it should have been “canvass” (verb).  As an author, I know my weaknesses and I am sure you know yours, too.  Double-check your weak areas.

I never share your creation with others.  Your work is safeguarded by me.  However, we all know about hackers and with email there is always that possibility.  If I could rid the world of malicious hackers, spammers, spoofers and phishers, I would have done so already.  In the meantime, we do what we can to prevent the possible theft of Intellectual Property.  However, I assume no responsibility should hackers make off with your manuscript.

Personality Differences:  If an untenable working relationship develops between the author and me, for whatever reason, we will agree to disagree and part company.  I will keep fees to cover the hours I have invested to this point of unworkability.  I will refund any overages paid.  I will return the UNFINISHED COPYEDITING JOB AS-IS to the author.  Thankfully, this has only happened once and it showed up pretty much immediately.  I had wasted six hours of my precious time.  I do NOT want a repeat of that.

I love copyediting and require that it remain a fun profession, shared between two serious authors (as I am an author as well as a copy editor) who both want to present a wonderful work of literary art--utilizing grammar rules and generally accepted spelling practices—by which they clearly communicate their story with their educated readers.

What I Will Not Do:

No marketing - No publication - No critiques - No promoting - No formatting - No uploading for e-publication - No cover art - Nothing but copyediting as defined above.

No research except as needed to confirm a technical term or career-specific phrase within the copyediting process.

Again--No MS will be accepted for copyediting that has not already been spell-checked and grammar-checked via Microsoft Word with at least one proofreading by the author or authorized beta-reader.

No telephone number for me will ever be given out.  Please do not ask for one.  It is a distraction from my copyediting work as well as my own writing.

No face-to-face meeting with me will ever be granted.  Please do not ask for one. It is a distraction from my copyediting work as well as my own writing.

No emails bouncing back and forth re the project.  I am as fast as I can be and still maintain the highest degree of accuracy.  Track Changes shows my suggestions and any further information can be found within Comments.

Copyediting is not a debate.  Within Track Changes, I am like the senate with the laws spelled out and the author is like the president with ultimate veto powers.

I have intimate knowledge of the nine hundred pages of the CMS and also with Webster's. I share that expertise regarding those grammar rules and preferred spellings when I copyedit. Each author has the final say; after all, it is his (or her ) name on the front of their book. His brand, his ultimate responsibility.

Referrals:  One of my CPs also has a copyediting service. For additional info, e-mail her at: Editor@CopyeditingSavesLives.com.



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