Beyond the Smoke
Diana Flegal

Diana Flegal currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pa where she works as Editorial Assistant to Joyce Hart, owner and founder of Hartline Literary Agency. A Bible College major in Missions and Anthropology, Diana has been a medical missionary to Haiti, a womans speaker and bible study leader, creating her own women's study material. One of her life's highlights has been teaching apologetics to high school students as preparatory for college. Avid reader and gifted editor, Diana's focus is Non Fiction. She has a passion for getting great writers published.

Hartline Literary
Visit our blog From The Heart

Camera Ready Manuscripts

One of the many changes in the publishing industry since the economic downturn has been the need for authors to provide “camera ready” manuscripts. The editorial burden of tightening up a manuscript used to fall on the publishing house. In the past, an editor would have been assigned to the writer, providing personalized service in helping with an author’s rewrite before going to press. With the recent layoffs and downsizing, publishers no longer offer this once routine service. Many authors are now finding the necessity of hiring an editor to help them prepare their manuscripts for submission.

I thought it might be good to elaborate a little on the services available to authors and what costs you might expect to pay for such services. Keep in mind that rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and more. The industry standard for a manuscript page, however, is a firm 250 words.

Terms and definitions:

Freelance Editor: Freelance practice varies greatly. Some require clients to sign written contracts, while others may perform work based on verbal agreements, perhaps enforceable through the very nature of the work. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients. They help getting words and information ready for publication, offering temporary help, occasional assistance, or long-term commitment. A freelance editor can help you with planning, outlining, organizing, enriching, ghostwriting/collaborating.

Copyeditor: the copyeditor improves the formatting, style, structure, and accuracy (but not the development) of a manuscript. This work is done before proofreading.

Proofreader: A proofreader works on either hard copy or electronic copy, and checks for typos and formatting errors. This may be done either against the copyedited document or “blind” (without checking against any other source).

Proofreaders also check for errors (grammar and consistency, for example) the copyeditor may have missed.

Ghostwriter: This is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. Celebrities, executives, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material.

Permissions Editor: When an author submits a manuscript that contains material from outside sources (photographs, text quotes, cartoons, full article reprints, charts, line drawings, graphs, maps, screen shots of Websites or software, and more), the permissions editor (1) evaluates whether permission is required for each of those items; and (2) obtains written permission before each item can be reprinted.

In September 2008, the Editorial Freelancers Association posted these fees on their site as a rough guideline for common editorial rates. (EFA is a national not-for-profit 501(c)6 organization, headquartered in New York City, run almost entirely by volunteers.)

Copyediting, basic 5–10 ms pgs/hr $25–40/hr
Copyediting, heavy 2–5 ms pgs/hr $35–50/hr
Substantive/line editing 1–6 ms pgs/hr $40–65/hr
Developmental editing 1–5 pgs/hr $50–80/hr
Proofreading 5–10 ms pgs/hr $25–35/hr
Researching NA $25-50/hr
Writing 1–3 ms pgs/hr $50–100/hr $1–$2/wd

NOTE: ms=manuscript, prn=printed, pg=page, hr= our, wd=word

Your agent might provide you with a list of editors they respect and believe will offer you quality service. I recommend that you interview each editor, asking what their fees are and what a realistic turnaround time is to complete the project. Be sure to choose an editor based not only on expertise but also on whether you feel you can work well with him or her.