6 Editing Principles That Shape How I Work

 In Editing

Can you imagine sending your manuscript off to an editor only to have them mangle it? I don’t know about you, but I’d be fuming if that ever happened to me.

What is an editor’s job? It’s certainly not to rewrite your manuscript. But how far should suggestion and rewrites go?

That depends a lot on the project itself. If you hire someone for a structural edit, be prepared for large changes. But that doesn’t give your editor the right to ignore your voice and write a new manuscript. Here are six editing principles I follow that help me find a good balance between polishing your writing and maintaining your authentic voice.

  1. This isn’t my manuscript. First and foremost, this is your writing. Depending on the level of editing, I may rewrite sentences or point out wordy passages. But I should never do that at the expense of your work and message.
  2. Readers should never know I’ve been part of a project. Even when I suggest rewrites, they should always be in your voice. In most instances, I use the same words and sentence structure you use. The resulting edits flow seamlessly into your writing.
  3. My ego has no place in your manuscript. I’m always proud of my editing jobs. I love seeing a manuscript evolve into a piece that is ready to publish. But enjoying my work does not mean that my ego has any place in your manuscript.
  4. The core of my job is communication. Unless I communicate regularly with you during a project, we aren’t likely to have a successful collaboration. At the same time, I need to carefully ensure that you communicate effectively with your audience. I always keep the multiple layers of communication in mind when working on manuscripts.
  5. The copyeditor/writer relationship is not adversarial. My job is not to “fix” your manuscript. It’s to help you convey your message as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Hiring a copyeditor does not mean you are a bad writer – it means you care enough about your finished manuscript to have a fresh set of eyes review it.
  6. Confidentiality. Your work and our discussions are between us.

Your Turn

These editing principles help me put my clients first. What qualities do you think are important for a copyeditor? Feel free to add your suggestions to the comments.

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