Editing services


Thesaurus graphicEditing gets a bad rap. Novice writers tend to think of it as a necessary evil best handled quickly and forgotten; a minor chore on par with, say, sticking
a label on a submissions envelope.

Experienced writers, meanwhile, know that the reverse is true. They understand that editing is perhaps the most crucial aspect of any manuscript's preparation. 

Editing means polishing. Editing means cutting—or even hacking—away at the dead words thereby giving the writing a chance to "breathe" and flow.

If writing a book is rough cutting a block of text, then editing is the sculpting of that block.

It's not an exact science. Ten professional editors may approach the same project in ten ways. Or may not approach it at all if they feel it's unsuited to their peculiar talents.

Or interests.
    There is no such thing as a perfectly edited book or document. There are only documents and books that are edited in ways that suits a certain requirement at a certain time.

A well-edited manuscript (within a given set of criteria) might sell. Or might not sell. There are no guarantees in the literary or journalism world, except the guarantee of rejection at one time or another.

All that a well-edited manuscript can offer is a better chance of being taken seriously and being accepted—while a poorly edited manuscript, no matter how good it might be, faces a high probability of instant rejection.


Can I self edit?

Of course. You can and should. In fact, I wouldn't want to look at a document or manuscript that hasn't, to a greater or lesser degree, faced the editing pen.

Or axe.

Where I come in is when a manuscript has faced repeated rejection; or when a writer knows that there's something wrong but can't fix it; or when a manuscript has been accepted subject to editorial revision; or when a writer needs a little fresh impetus.

That happens commonly enough, usually because a writer has been working on a project for so long that he or she has lost focus.

Or feels they have.

With modern word processors, many authors edit line-by-line as they write. But the act of constantly erasing words, or ideas, or characters, or plots, can lead to "blind" spots. Or "dull" spots.

This happens constantly with my own projects. I line-edit as I write, constantly making small alterations—each of which leaves an imprint in my mind. At the end of 100,000 words, I'm carrying more than twice that amount of literary baggage.

The writing no longer feels fresh. I see words, but not the feelings and impressions that lie behind the words.

Usually a break of a few weeks, or months, is sufficient to erase all the imprints. Then I re-edit. If I can't manage it myself, I hand it over to the girlfriend who has a knack of spotting things I missed.
    So to conclude, self-edit as much as possible, and get the hired guns (or girlfriend) in later.


If you edit my manuscript, will you alter my voice?

I sincerely hope so. Most professional editors will tell you otherwise; that they'll preserve your unique style. But that's unrealistic. Everything that's done to your writing will change it, hopefully for the better. But don't count on it. The trick is to take the best aspects of your voice and cut the worst. Just watch for an editor who puts his overly distinct stamp on your work. To preclude this, maintain good communications throughout and explain exactly how you want your project to be handled.

For instance, do you want to sound fast? Hard? Clipped? Smooth? Earthy? Sophisticated?

And don't feel that you have to have one voice and stick to it throughout your writing career. You can change. Grow. Adapt. You can experiment.

And with fiction projects, what about your other voices within the story? You may be fine handling the upper classes of your 1930 crime caper, but how are your gangsters? Your butlers? Your ordinary man in the street?

A good professional editor will help you avoid characters that sound as if they came from the same cardboard character box and will help bring individuality to your players and help make them distinct.

And unique.

Put simply, if you approach an editor for help, you're asking for change. So expect it and make the most of it.

Fortunately, there's cross-pollination at work here too. Each time an editor takes on a new project, he expands his "palette" of voices. That's an editors skill. Or ought to be if he or she is any good.


When you edit my manuscript, can you guarantee my ideas won't be stolen?

No. The fact is, all writers borrow or steal ideas from other writers, and no editor can guarantee anything. That's the hard truth. You're never going to get total protection from a professional editing service—just as an established published writer can never totally protect his or her body of work.

Writers routinely hijack character types. They change names. They change locations. They copy techniques and habits. They borrow nuances. I certainly do.

That's living, breathing writing at work.

And that's why there are thousands of detective duos out there solving any number of complex murder mysteries. There are thousands of spies tackling thousands of villains bent of world domination. There are thousands of FBI agents tackling serial killers. Thousands of soldiers fighting thousands of battles. While a million overheated romances blossom in the pages of a million bodice rippers.

Put simply, the plots have pretty much all been done, one way or another. The twists and turns are generally old hat. The best you can do is put your own stamp on an idea based on your personal (and largely unique) experiences.

What this means is that editors generally don't need to steal your ideas when there are thousands of successful formulas in the bookshops of any High Street.

But yes, it can happen. You could have a professional book editor steal your idea. He could perhaps read your manuscript and pass it onto a friend, just as you could have a solicitor or accountant swindle you.

But these things are rare.


Serial killer tales, FBI novels and Vatican mysteries

For myself, I've yet to see a manuscript that I think is a sure-fire winner. J K Rowling was rejected dozens of times. Dan Brown was rejected. John Grisham was rejected. Joseph Heller was rejected. It simply isn't that obvious what sells and what doesn't. And literary agents with a reputation for “sniffing out a best seller” are often merely selling successfully, and what they sell is commonly a question of personal fancy.

I thought my own novels were pretty good and spent years working on them. But you can't always get the rest of the trade to ride on your peculiar hobby horse.

It’s partly a lottery.

So if you mean will I take your manuscript and stick my name on it and send it out to my favourite agents, then probably not. But you'll have to take that on trust. You'll have to talk to me and sound me out or get together for a face-to-face chat and see if I'm a friend or a fraud.

The truth is that I'm too busy trying to sell my own novels to spend time ripping off other projects. Also, I'm in the habit of writing what I want to write, rather than what the market really wants. That's probably not the fastest way to get that big publishing deal. But does the world really need another FBI serial-killer novel? Or another tale about the mysterious intrigues of the Vatican? Or the CIA?

Well, it might. But it probably won't be me who writes it. I just don't work that way.


Protecting your copyright

If you want to give some protection to your manuscript, there are a variety of things people do to at least preserve the illusion that their work is secure. Such as mailing copies of their book to themselves and not opening the envelope. Or getting affidavits signed. Or drafting elaborate contracts. Or a hundred other naive mechanisms.

But as I said, it all comes down to trust. And if you can't build that trust with your editor, don't do it.

However, if you're really desperate for editing help on your can't-miss best-seller (and are concerned about the security of your project), you might try having your work looked at chapter by chapter. That might lead to a less than perfect finished project. But it might suit.

Or you might have a single chapter edited and use that as a template to self-improve the rest of your manuscript.

That's not ideal either. But it might get you out of a jam.

Or you might offer the editor a small percentage deal so that he or she wins both ways.

And here's a salient thought. What if an editor is already working privately on a storyline that closely resembles your own? Or what if the publishing house you send your book to has a similar project in the pipeline?

It happens.

So, at the very least take a tip and check what your editor is already working on (although he or she will want to preserve client confidentiality and won't be prepared to give too much away). But if it sounds too close to your own project, you may want to look elsewhere.

Good luck.




Mr Edit YouTube videos


Meanwhile, here are some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest to you. Hope you enjoy them.

You Tube video for writers and authors


Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue





You Tube literary agent video help


Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary agent.





You Tube video - how to write fiction


Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.





You Tube video for authors and novelists


Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.




Links for writers


Preditors & Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.



Creative Helps. Helpful resource for the creative community. Articles, links and tips.



Nick Daws' Writing Blog. Lots of useful posts on all aspects of writing, both for print and online, plus a guest post for anyone who wants to make a contribution. Check it out.








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