Essential Edits
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is editing so expensive?
    • Professional editors are highly skilled and in demand. Editors Canada suggests comparing editors at hourly rate of $60/hour, but Essential Edits rates are generally $10 to $15 below that, depending on the type of work required.

      Essential Edits has also developed a number of approaches to help keep costs down. For example, rather than contract for the entire project, clients often find it helpful to pay for a few chapters at a time, so that they can apply what they learned from that initial edit to the subsequent manuscript themselves, rather than pay for the editor to keep making the same changes or comments over and over.

  • If I invest in editing, you guarantee I'll get published, right?
    • Short answer: No.

      Long answer: Essential Edits can give you an objective appraisal of the commercial potential of your novel or book; in fact, we insist on doing a sample edit before taking your contract. If there is little or no chance of your book earning back your investment in editing, Essential Edits will tell you.

      Some clients choose to go ahead with editing anyway for reasons of self-fulfillment; to produce a book they can be proud of to distribute to family or friends; to write for a niche market they know is not large enough to be commercial, but is nevertheless important; or because they view the editing process as a personalized writing course (in which the instructor uses their own practice novel as the example), in the hopes of honing their writing skills for future projects.

      Essential Edits can make your book better; we cannot make a publisher or consumers buy it.

  • Why am I having so much trouble completing my non-fiction book or thesis/dissertation?
    • Download our free 32-page guide on why undertaking a sustained piece of writing—like a book or a thesis—is harder than anything else one has written so far, and suggestions on the new writing skills required to succeed. (Hint: You have to unlearn the writing strategies that worked for you up to now.)
  • Why is my book/thesis making my life wretched?
      Same free download as above, with strategies for surviving the inevitable angst associated with any sustained writing task.
  • Do I really need editing for my memoir?

      No. Your descendants just want to hear about your life story. The important thing is to get your stories down so that they are not lost. They won't care about a few spelling mistakes. You only need editing if you hope to reach beyond your own family to a larger audience.
  • Would anyone be interested in my life story?

      Yes. Everyone's life story is worth telling. (See the Essential Edits section on memoir for examples.) Your descendants will likely be fascinated because your life story is part of their heritage. Not everyone's memoirs are commercial, however. Essential Edits staff can provide a realistic assessment of your story's commercial potential and whether it is worthwhile investing in professional editing.
  • What is a writing coach, exactly?
    • A writing coach is someone who can help with all stages of the writing process, including addressing issues of how to take and organize notes (filing turns out to be a key skill in writing theses, dissertations, memoir, nonfiction books and even, for many writers, novels.), how to get started (that is, overcoming blank-page syndrome) dealing with writer's block, keeping up motivation (that is, dealing with the inevitable angst that comes with any sustained writing project); and managing relations with one's supervisor/committee/publisher. For example, to successfully take on a sustained writing project such as a thesis, one first has to unlearn the writing strategies that made one a successful undergraduate student. Undergraduates write papers the night before they are due, on instructor-assigned topics they don't care about, and that are short enough to keep in their head at one time. Success as an undergraduate is all about being a good first-draft writer. In contrast, writing a thesis or book must be sustained over months, is much too complex to keep all in one's head, is on a topic one is passionate about (emotional commitment/stakes), is more about revision than drafting, and is for much higher stakes. Retaining motivation, focus, and momentum over the months or even years required to complete the project is difficult, especially since supervisors and peers often fail to acknowledge that writing up one's research is anything but straightforward. A writing coach can provide both moral support and direction (that is, specific instruction in the writing process) to ease the successful completion of the work.

      Download the free Essential Edits guide, Writing Strategies for Theses and Dissertations to understand why writing a thesis or book is so difficult, and suggestions that might help.

  • Am I allowed to have an editor help me with my thesis/dissertation?
    • Editors Canada (has strict ethical guidelines about what the editor can and cannot do for the thesis or dissertation writer. It should be obvious that if one is getting a Masters or Doctorate, it cannot be for work someone else did for them. The institution granting the degree is not only certifying that student is now qualified to undertake and complete research at the Masters or Doctoral level, but that the graduate is also competent in the language of instruction at that level. Essential Edits adheres to Editors Canada ethical guidelines.

      Occasionally, where a supervisor sees a need for improved written expression but is not comfortable with providing that instruction themselves, they may seek the assistance of the Senior Academic Editor at Essential Edits to provide specific tutoring as part of the student's learning process. Such tutoring consists of identifying strengths and weaknesses in the student's writing to help the student develop the meta-skills necessary for rapid improvement. Here the emphasis goes beyond editing the current manuscript to providing coaching for life-long improvement in written communication. Because the Senior Academic editor has over twenty-five years experience as a researcher and thesis supervisor, he is able to provide ethical substantive input concerning written expression as if he were a member of the thesis committee. This can only occur with the knowledge and approval of the thesis supervisor and the thesis committee; that is, the student must sign a contract, and obtain the supervisor's signature on the appropriate forms provided by Essential Edits.

  • I intend to self-publish my novel/non-fiction book. Can you help me publish it?
    • We can help you with the writing process (writing coach), with identifying and helping you address elements such as plot, pacing, characterization (for novels) and organization and structure (for non-fiction), that may not currently be working (structural editing); clarity, consistency, grammar, spelling, and typos (copy editing); and generally get the book to where it is ready for publication. We do not provide publishing services such as cover art, uploading, distribution, online sales, marketing, social media support, etc. Lesley Little can provide some guidance with layout and design if you intend to upload your Word file 'as is' to Kobo or Amazon, and so on. We recommend professional typesetting (i.e., InDesign software), however, and recommend JenEric Designs as a reliable and inexpensive typesetting provider.
  • I'm told I'm an excellent writer. Why would I need to have my book edited?
    • Everyone needs a second pair of eyes to identify passages which may be unclear, imprecise, unnecessarily wordy, or otherwise flawed. Passages that may seem perfectly clear to the author, who knows what the passage was intended to say, may be less clear to the reader. If one is hoping to take one's book or novel to a traditional publisher, Essential Edits can provide something authors cannot do for themselves: see the manuscript through the eyes of an editor. If one intends to self-publish, then one should ensure the manuscript is ready by having it professionally appraised.

      If one is writing a thesis or dissertation, one's supervisor and/or committee provide quality control, but one may still wish to engage an editor to identify those tiny mistakes that are invisible to the author: doubled "the the"s for example, or minor typos, or that one still has the citation for Harold Garfinkle in one's references even though one has cut the paragraph that referred to Harold Garfinkle in the text (and the reference therefore has to go). These sorts of errors are both trivial and inevitable, so although it is important to identify and eliminate these annoying blips, they are not considered significant and can be delegated to a professional proofreader or copy editor. In my own case, for example, after carefully proofreading every line of my Master's thesis to ensure it was perfect, I hired a professional proofreader who found hundreds of additional typos. I was shocked at how many tiny little errors had crept past my meticulous review (and that of my supervisor and committee) but it is almost impossible for authors to catch their own typos or formatting errors.

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  • Last updated May 12, 2017.