Magic Words Editorial Services: Freelance book editor for fantasy, horror, scifi, speculative fiction writers | Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. — Toni Morrison

Magic Words Editorial Services: Freelance book editor for fantasy, horror, scifi, speculative fiction writers | Frequently Asked Questions

THE “WHAT”

What genres do you edit?

All of them! I focus mainly on fantasy, horror, scifi, and speculative fiction and their subgenres, because those are my favorite stories to read, but I love fiction of all kinds. If you have a brainy literary story and think I’m the editor for you, bring it on! If you have a heart-thudding thriller on your hands, I’m your gal. An inspirational memoir? Gimme! I even occasionally take on nonfiction: self-help, spirituality, specific subject matter. I’m a former interior designer and have a soft spot for home décor and lifestyle books. I typically don’t do romance (don’t read it, not into it), but if your book has romantic overtones within another genre, I’m all for it.

Do you do developmental editing?

Yes. No. Sort of? Developmental editing focuses on plot, character development, structure, narrative, and other “big picture” items. Usually, a developmental edit will include in-manuscript markup plus a book map and an editorial letter. I do what I refer to as a “dev edit lite,” which I call a Story Critique. I look at everything included in a developmental edit and provide you with a diagnostic letter of approximately five to seven pages that generally addresses what works, what doesn’t work, thoughts and suggestions, and my opinion of the book’s publish-ability in its current form. A developmental edit is usually only effective on a fully completed manuscript. My Story Critique is perfect for manuscripts in any condition—finished, half finished, unedited, or anything in between.

Will you edit my query/synopsis/blurb/website/social media?

Absolutely! I’ll gladly do a Style Tune Up, Nuts and Bolts, or Polish and Shine editing service on your book-related blurb, query letter, synopsis, or website content for a onetime project fee. For social media or blog posts, I offer a monthly retainer to copy edit your prose before it goes live, with a three-month minimum engagement. Cost depends on the projected number of posts. Send me an email at shawna@magicwordsediting.com for more details.

Can you publish my book?

Alas, I am not a publisher, nor do I offer publishing coaching. However, keep an eye on the Magic Words Journal for the occasional blog post on the subject.

Can you help me find an agent?

I can certainly point you to helpful resources for finding an agent (or publisher), but the legwork to secure that agent will be yours, of course.

Magic Words Editorial Services: Freelance book editor for fantasy, horror, scifi, speculative fiction writers | Editorial Services

THE “HOW”

How do you edit?

I use Microsoft Word. I work directly in a copy of your manuscript and make my edits using Word’s Track Changes feature. Prior to beginning my edit, I’ll do what’s called “silent edits”—fixing double spaces, straight quotes, ellipses, and other formatting issues—which won’t be tracked. As I work, I add items to the style sheet I create for your book (see more about the style sheet below). I’ll also have a fuzzy assistant or two or three sleeping at my feet, chillout tunes in the background for focus, and a cup of coffee or tea to keep me going.

Are you available for questions during editing?

Totally! I don’t do phone calls, but send me an email with your questions and I’ll respond within 24 hours. Also, I may have questions for you as I edit, so keep an eye on your inbox.

What style guide do you use?

For my indie author clients (meaning authors who have not yet secured a publisher or know they will be self-publishing), I use the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. It’s the preferred style of the book publishing industry. When I work directly for publishing houses, I use a combination of CMOS and the house’s style guide. For dictionaries, I use the online version of Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged dictionary.

What's a style sheet? Do you provide a style sheet?

A style sheet is a record of all the decisions you’ve made as an author and all the decisions and changes I’ve made as an editor. Examples: “gray” is spelled with an “a” in American English, “jobsite” is one word, etc.

 

It also tracks characters, settings, or any other book details that should remain consistent throughout the book. Examples: Bill’s eyes are blue, the Galactic Jetstar has 12 decks, etc.

 

I provide a style sheet for every Style Tune Up and Nuts and Bolts project I work on.

Do you do a sample edit?

Yes! I provide a free trial edit for any Style Tune Up or Nuts and Bolts project. Trial edits are not available for any other service offering. You can apply for a trial edit here.

Magic Words Editorial Services: Freelance book editor for fantasy, horror, scifi, speculative fiction writers | Resources

THE “WHEN”

What's your schedule like? When can you fit my project into it?

Due to high demand, I’m usually booked out two or three months ahead. Scheduling your project will depend on my availability, so definitely apply to work with me as soon as possible to get on the calendar! Sometimes another author will reschedule, and I can shuffle projects around. I’ll let you know if that occurs and give you the choice to move into that slot.

What's your turnaround time?

I can typically turn around a project in 2-4 weeks. That timeframe depends on your schedule, the cleanliness of the manuscript, its length and complexity, and any other work or family obligations I have. We’ll discuss a specific timeline for your project during your application.

When do I know my manuscript is ready to be edited?

Your manuscript is ready to be copy edited after it’s a.) finished, b.) been through all rounds of critique and beta reading, and c.) you’ve incorporated all feedback you’re going to accept and have done all the rewrites you’re going to do. I recommend a manuscript go through developmental editing at this point. A professional developmental editor will approach story issues that critique partners and beta readers didn’t catch or mention. (I don’t do developmental editing, but I can recommend several five-star editors.) Once you’ve integrated your developmental edit, then your book can be copyedited. It’s generally best to do the copyedit once you’re absolutely, positively, 100% sure you won’t touch your manuscript again or do any more writing, which might introduce more word baubles or typos.

Magic Words Editorial Services: Freelance book editor for fantasy, horror, scifi, speculative fiction writers | The Editorial Process

THE “WHY”

Why should I hire an editor?

The best answer to this question can be found here: Why Do You Need An Editor? The Brutal Truth

What are your editing qualifications?

Just the facts, ma’am:

 

  • A bachelor’s of science in English literature and language with a minor in education
  • A master’s in communications
  • A certificate in editing from the University of Chicago—the folks who wrote the Chicago Manual of Style, the style guide used by the publishing industry
  • Extensive training in copyediting and proofreading from editing training organizations and membership associations
  • Experience teaching literature, writing, grammar, and spelling to high school students
  • Experience editing in a corporate environment within communications, public relations, and publications departments
  • 40+ years writing short stories, poems, and novels
  • 20+ years as a business owner
  • Skill in and a lifelong love of reading fantasy, horror, scifi, speculative, literary, and many other kinds of fiction

 

You can find out more here.

Why are you the right editor for my book?

The honest answer: I might not be! The right editor is not just the person with the right qualifications, but someone you gel with, who “gets” your book and the way you write. The only way to tell if I’m the right editor is to apply for a free trial edit.  A trial edit will give you a good sense of how I’ll edit your book, how I’ll treat your writer’s voice, and how I’ll go about doing your edit. And to figure out if we “gel” or not? Pay attention to how I communicate in emails and even on this website! Do you like my personality and tone? Do I come across as a person you can respect and get along with? Do you feel validated and seen as a writer? Only you can answer those questions through what you read and how I treat you. I hope my love for you as a human being and for your writing shines through!

Magic Words Editorial Services: Freelance book editor for fantasy, horror, scifi, speculative fiction writers | About Magic Words

THE “HOW MUCH”

What are your prices?

My prices are listed on my Services page. (Note: Those are starting prices; final cost will depend on the cleanliness and complexity of your manuscript.) I charge mostly by the word, but sometimes per project depending on what you bring me.

I have a really short story. Do you have a minimum charge?

I don’t have a minimum charge, as I typically price per word. That said, I generally don’t work with anything shorter than 5,000 words. (But exceptions can always be made for the right story!)

Do you offer payment plans?

Yes, payment plans are available. A 50% deposit is required, and then payment arrangements are custom-designed for your situation (maximum of three payments and/or a three-month duration).