FAQs - Magic Words Editorial Services
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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

THE “WHAT”

What genres do you edit?

All of them! I focus mainly on speculative fiction—fantasy, horror, sci-fi, plus all of 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.

What version of English do you edit?

I am an American speaker of the US-centric dialect of English, and that’s what I was trained on. I’m somewhat familiar with the differences in spellings, construction, mechanics, and well-known idioms in Canadian and British English. If you are Canadian, British, or Australian, or write in another English dialect, and plan to publish your book for the American market and audiences, an American-speaking editor can help apply US-specific conventions. In that case, I’d be right for your project.

If your goal is to release your book to your home-country audience, it’s probably better to find an editor who specializes in your dialect. I’m happy to pass along names of editors who can help.

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 Diagnostic. I offer it as a standalone service or as part of my Full Editing Journey package. I look at everything included in a developmental edit and provide you with a diagnostic letter 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 full developmental edit is usually only effective on a fully completed manuscript. But, my Story Diagnostic 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 have two services that do just that: a Query Cleanup and Marketing Magic. Learn more about both here.

Can you publish my book?

Alas, I am not a publisher nor do I offer publishing coaching (yet). 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.

Do you work on AI-generated books or stories?
    NOPE.

I do not work on manuscripts that include content generated by AI or machine-learning models like ChatGPT, SudoWrite, Novel AI, or others of more than 1 percent of their total words. I also that you agree to disclose that your manuscript contains AI-generated content of any amount if we work together. (AI-assisted brainstorming, outlining, and story development is fine and does not have to be disclosed.)

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.

Do you use AI to edit? Will my work be used to train an AI model?

I do not utilize any online AI-assisted or machine learning model technologies that learn from your text or incorporate your words into its model. My tools consist of PerfectIt’s consistency checker, Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar Editor, and 100% pure, old-fashioned, homegrown human intelligence and training. I take every precaution to keep your work safe from incorporation into machine-learning or generative-AI models.

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.

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?

General timeframes are listed on my services page. 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?

That’s a tricky question with lots of answers. Generally, a book can benefit from a Story Diagnostic (a manuscript assessment) at any point during the writing process (but it’s more helpful if the story is mostly written).

When your manuscript is 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 usually recommend developmental editing at this point. You can either opt for a manuscript critique (my “dev edit lite” service, a Story Diagnostic) or a full developmental edit, especially if you’re still struggling with writing craft issues. Since I don’t offer full developmental editing, I can recommend several five-star editors that do. (I can also help you determine if your story needs a critique or a full dev edit.)

Once you’ve integrated your developmental edits and done any necessary rewriting, then your book can be line or copyedited (my Style Tune-Up or Nuts and Bolts services). It’s generally best to do the line or 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.

Still confused? I’m here to help you figure it out.

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 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, sci-fi, 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!

THE “HOW MUCH”

What are your prices?

I have a project-based pricing model, which means I assess the project as a whole before I assign a cost (which is why it’s important that I see your entire manuscript before the sample edit or before I generate a quote). The rate I charge is customized for your particular project, and it factors in the following: the word count of your story, your desired turnaround time, and the cleanliness and complexity of your manuscript. If, for budgeting reasons, you need a ballpark cost, let me know, and I’ll be happy to provide you with a range that your project might fall into.

Or, check out the Editorial Freelancers Association’s rates page. This page lists the rates that were reported by a survey of editors in 2019 for different categories of editing work. While it’s not particular to your book, and the rates have not been updated for inflation, it should give you an idea of what to expect.

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

I don’t have a minimum charge, as I price per project. That said, I typically 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 deposit is required, and then payment arrangements are custom designed for your situation.