If you contact me about some possible work, what can you expect to happen next? (Please note: this is how I generally work with non-publishing customers. Things are different with publishers, largely because they often have their own procedures and an author is also involved.)
I’ll need you to tell me various things about the material that needs to be edited or proofread, and about your needs: please see here, under the ‘Getting a quote’ heading. If possible, I’d like to see at least a sample of the content, which should be representative of the rest of it.
With the odd exception (we all need a holiday now and then), you can expect a quick initial response, usually within 24 hours during UK business days.
Once I’ve got everything I need from you, I’ll assess it. I’ll consider whether I would be the right person to do the work, estimate how long it would take, and work out whether it could fit into my schedule. If I’m willing and able to do it, I’ll quote a fee (or, if appropriate, propose an hourly rate). I’ll also invite you to check my terms and conditions and data protection policy.
If we agree on the work to be done, the schedule and the pricing, and you’re happy with my terms and conditions, I’ll book the job in my calendar and confirm that I’m planning to do it.
First, I’ll create various documents, typically including a timesheet, checklist and style sheet. The style sheet will be a record of my findings and decisions on various aspects of writing style, such as variable spellings and the use of capitals, hyphens and numbers – all with the aim of making everything consistent and in line with general good practice. This is mainly for my own use, but you might find the final version useful as well.
Next, with the help of specialist software, I’ll do some analysis and general checks, usually making some changes to ensure consistency and coherence. If any general concerns or queries crop up at this stage, I’ll get in touch with you.
Down to business
This is where I start reviewing your material in full, word by word, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph. I’ll be checking the spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Depending on what we’ve agreed, I might also be making wider improvements: rewording awkward phrasing, reducing repetition, cutting out unnecessary words, ensuring compliance with a chosen style, perhaps changing some wording into plain English, and so on. My main aim is to help the reader as much as I can (within our agreed remit), which will help you to get your message across clearly.
At this stage, I’ll mostly leave you in peace to get on with other things. However, I will get in touch if I come across any major problems, or if an issue keeps cropping up and I think an early resolution would help. Depending on the size of the job and how it’s going, I also might give you some updates on progress.
As I go along, I’ll add notes and queries for you in the document. Usually, I’ll leave it to you to follow up on the queries after the handover. Or, if we agree this (usually with additional payment involved), you can give me your answers and I’ll amend the document accordingly.
After finishing the work, I’ll send you the edited or proofread file, and (if relevant) the style sheet and any other useful documents, along with an invoice.
If the work has been done in Word, my edits will usually be highlighted using Track Changes, except for small cosmetic changes, such as eliminating double spaces or changing straight quotes to curly ones. I’ll provide notes and comments about anything I think you should be made aware of. More on this here.
If you’re unsure about any of my changes, comments etc., you can feel free to get in touch, and I’ll happily spend some time clearing things up. Any feedback on my work would be very welcome; and I hope you’ll want to work with me again some day.
Does this help? If you have any thoughts or questions on how we could work together, please get in touch.
Thoughts on Words
An editorial blog. Posts by Graham Hughes.