Editing From A to Z: There’s editing, and Then There’s Editing.
People are frequently confused by the different kinds of editing done by most editors. Following is a brief explanation.
Line Editing: Literally, going through a manuscript line by line and fixing errors in punctuation, grammar, spelling, and syntax.
Revision Editing: Same as line editing, plus: rewriting sentences and paragraphs, rearranging phrases, clauses, paragraphs, and/or sections, and making additions or deletions as editor deems necessary.
Developmental Editing: Taking revision a step further, this is usually done in consultation with the writer. Developmental editing can include adding, deleting or changing a character, plot, or entire sections of the manuscript. It can mean moving chapters around, or making significant alterations to scenes and/or dialog. It can be quite extensive. Sometimes an editor will make suggestions to the writer, who will then make the changes (or not if in disagreement). If both parties agree, the editor usually goes ahead and makes the changes.
There are even more kinds of editors, such as Acquisition Editors in publishing houses, and Desk Editors at large newspapers, but they’re irrelevant to the work I do as a freelancer.
Writing / Ghostwriting
In order for editing to take place, we obviously need an existing manuscript, no matter what shape it’s in. However, there are some people in this world who simply cannot or will not write one single word. That’s where I come in.
I’ve ghost-written full-length books of non-fiction; blog posts; catalog descriptions; academic articles; and business materials such as brochures, press releases, and e-books. Ghostwriters are usually anonymous, but sometimes given credit as co-writer (“as told to” or “with”). When I ghostwrite a book I sign a confidentiality agreement not to reveal the fact.
The Internet has given rise to a surge in entrepreneurship and motivational speaking, which in turn has led to an increased demand for ghostwriters. Entrepreneurs with specialties in high finance, nutrition, fitness, and dog training — to name just a few — are finding they need a book, or even several, to use as promotional tools. Just as I know little about entrepreneurship, these professionals frequently don’t know how to write, so they hire professionals like me to do the job.
I’ve written books on topics such as online niche dating; ethnic-based cooking and dieting; self-promotion; teaching kids about money; meeting millionaires for business or pleasure (with a co-writing credit on that one), and drama as a form of therapy, to name a few. The entrepreneurs for whom I wrote these books were too busy running their businesses to do the writing themselves.
Autobiographies, Family Histories and Memoirs
Everyone has a story to tell. It can be your family history, your own life story, or a portion of your life that’s dramatic or unusual (you climbed Mt. Everest; your premature baby survived against all odds). These books sometimes become best-sellers, even those about sad or difficult experiences—if handled well they can be inspiring, and everyone wants to be inspired.
Because the Internet enables us to do quick and thorough research, it’s sparked an explosion of interest in family roots and genealogy. More people than ever want to learn their family’s stories while the people who remember them are still around, and tell them to others. Sometimes this is for family only; other times for wider circulation. No matter what the purpose, compiling a family history is a complicated project that involves conducting and organizing research; tracking down and identifying old photos; interviewing people; and, of course, writing.
Writing a book requires a set of skills that not everyone has learned or developed. It’s common sense: If you’re a carpenter, you’re a wizard with hammer and nails. If you’re a surgeon, you perform miracles with a scalpel. As a writer, I know how to organize a large amount of material into a coherent, interesting narrative, and in less time than it would take someone who’s doing it for the first time.
Allow me to listen to your story, read your notes, discuss your ideas with you, and then turn it all into the book you’ve been imagining you’ll write someday. Why not make someday now?
A manuscript evaluation is a detailed report of a book’s strengths and weaknesses, with specific recommendations to improve anything that doesn’t seem to be working. This kind of analysis is invaluable; even if a writer is also an experienced editor, an objective eye is essential.
Manuscript evaluation is a tender pursuit. Whereas I’m a hard-core editor when preparing work for publication, when it comes to the process of fiction or creative nonfiction I’m more inclined to be gentle, knowing that harsh, insensitive criticism can damage rather than improve a piece of writing. (See my blog post, Every Writer Deserves an Editor).
Mentorship / Tutoring
While teaching creative writing classes in San Francisco, I developed a system for working with students one-on-one outside the parameters of the classroom. Using email and occasional in-person meetings, I helped those who wanted to write but lacked knowledge of the craft and/or confidence in their abilities. Some students worked on a specific project, such as a novel; others practiced various assigned exercises, using my feedback to hone their skills. Having undergone this same process as a writer, I know how to guide others to overcome the internal barriers that can prevent us from using and developing our creative instincts.
To contact me about any of the above services, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Line Editing $3.00 per page* (300 pages = $ 900)
Revision Editing $4.00 per page (300 pages = $1200)
Developmental Editing: $5.00 per page (300 pages = $1500)
*Standard page: 12-pt. font double-spaced = 250 wds.
The above are estimates only. I ask for and edit the first ten pages gratis before finalizing my fee with a contract.
Note: For going rates on writing and editing fees, see the Editorial Freelancers Association:
Here’s what some of my clients have to say:
Marcy’s careful attention to both details and the broader picture improved my writing tremendously. She gives honest feedback, which is exactly what I wanted and needed. It’s almost scary to think of how much worse my book might be if it weren’t for her insightful feedback. On top of all that, Marcy is a pleasure to work with.—Christina Brown, author, Laika in Lisan
I’ve worked with Marcy many times over the years, and am always impressed by her editing talents. I can honestly recommend her to do an inspiring job on any writing project.–Susie Bright, writer, speaker
I have dealt with many ghostwriters, and no one comes close to Marcy’s skill, creativity and professionalism. Proficient, intelligent, and talented, she gets the job done on time and absolutely impresses my clients. She is my go-to ghostwriter from here on out. I recommend her 100%! –Alicia Dunams, Book Writing, Publishing and Marketing Coach for Business Owners
Marcy Sheiner has a kick-ass wit and cuts right to the heart of whatever she chooses to write about. I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from having her as a collaborator. Her honest feedback has helped me with my own writing. – Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D Author/Sexologist
Marcy is one of the few editors I’ve known who actually listens to writers. She doesn’t insist that her point of view is necessarily best, but engages the writer in conversation about the work. She’s a pleasure to work with, and to learn from.–Susan St. Aubin, writer
Marcy’s incredibly good editorial ear helps flesh out what the writer wanted to say–even when the writer doesn’t quite say it. I’ve worked with her many times, and her editing has made my stories stronger. –Kate Dominic, writer
“Marcy’s a great writer and an interesting, entertaining person to work with. I recommend her without reservation.”—Tommy Tompkins, writer and colleague
Marcy is a fantastic editor and writer! She’s thorough, conscientious, creative, intelligent, and tough in just the right way. She lets you know when something doesn’t communicate, and she’s often able to give a writer inspiring insight about making words work. She knows how to get to the heart of any story, and can take a project from scraps of notes to finished document or book with amazing ease.— Jamison Green, PhD
From Elance Feedback Comments: Professional, talented and an extremely competent writer.—Dean Homicki/Rating: 4.6 out of 5