diting is so much more than proofreading; it’s a “tough love” process where author and editor collaborate to turn the mess into a message.

Many authors “flow-write.” They hammer out a few thousand words every day until the end of the story reveals itself. This “active dreaming” state offers great satisfaction and it can reveal magical stories you’ll be astonished to see appear on your screen—as if you channeled them from the mind of God or from mysterious source of wisdom and inspiration.

Unfortunately, God works in mysterious ways. I’ve seen flow manuscripts run to over 250,000 words (about 1500 pages when typeset). Who will dedicate the time to read such a massive tome? And who will pay big money for a multi-volume set from an unknown author? And the editing and production costs?

If you’re still planning to write a book, a good editor will help you outline the narrative—whether it’s a memoir, a novel, or a non-fiction book—so you’ll have a well-defined transformation for your characters and/or your reader. Though an outline may sound constraining (I resisted “structured writing” for years), you’ll be surprised to find that it will not inhibit your “flow” in any way. Knowing what you’re writing about, who you’re writing for, and why your message is valuable will inhibit neither your inspiration nor your ability to tap into that mysterious source of wisdom and inspiration. When each chapter or section has a purpose and the author has a sense of how the narrative advances or retreats on the “game board,” the creative spirit is liberated.

But … if you’re like most people, you’ve already written your manuscript. Now you want to polish it but you don’t want to hand it off to some “professional” to change and modify and “correct.”

Good editing isn’t done that way (though I’ve met many writers who’ve had that unfortunate experience with a so-called “editor”).  It starts with a read-through where we don’t worry so much about grammar and syntax. Instead, we follow the story and pressure test it. Along the way, any suggestions or changes are carefully annotated with Track Changes. You have final say over what gets changed and what gets kept.

  • Is there anything here that doesn’t need to be here?
  • Are you serving your reader or serving your own need to get your story told?
  • Is the manuscript aligned with your publishing objectives?

The resulting detailed report leaves you with a clear roadmap for the rewrite. The draft manuscript becomes a “content well” from which the final book’s material is drawn. And yes, it’s true what they say; “It’s all in the re-write.” Finishing the first draft is an accomplishment but the writer’s journey is a long one. Some writers take weeks to create the next draft and others take years. It depends on you, your available time, and your drive to go back and complete that book you thought you had just finished.

  • Should each chapter include a story to make its point?
  • Is the path from conflict to transformation (and the value of your book to your reader) clear?
  • Are we ready to create that outline we wish we’d built before we started?

Developmental Editing Report Estimator

Once the next draft is written, we’ll check the flow of the narrative and look at language—grammar, syntax, and style. This is where you’ll pick up all the writing tips you were never taught in school, and this, too, runs deeper than proofreading.

  • Are your tenses consistent?
  • Are you using boring verbs like “awesome” and “good?”
  • Did you pick the right verb or just drop in “was,” “were,” “have,” or “am?”

This final process is iterative. We’ll gradually whittle down the comments and suggestions in the manuscript as we pass it back and forth. Each pass gets faster and more focused until—voila—you are ready to publish.

Line Editing Project Estimator